In my previous blog, I outlined the emergence of a new category of enterprise software: Operational Risk Management (ORM). I shared details for why this new category of software is needed, what it offers hazardous industry operators – in terms of value and potential ROI. But successful implementations are never mere coincidence.

At Petrotechnics, we have spent the last 30 years pioneering this area, and today more than 80,000 people use daily our ORM tools.

Based on experience, there are 5 common pitfalls to avoid when implementing an operational risk management tool:

Pitfall #1:”Let’s use this new tool as a paper-on-glass replacement for our current processes”

Petrotechnics works with clients to model business processes in operational risk management. We often find that what operators try to achieve replicates their manual, paper-based processes in an electronic tool. This is quite a natural tendency. In fact, industry has been working to this end for over 20 years. Success has followed – recognized by industry regulators and operators alike:

the introduction of the first electronic permit to work (ePTW) system, called ISSOW at the time, replaced traditional paper-based systems. This new tool has brought tremendous progress to organisations. But it did not solve structural issues existing in the majority of organisations: work in silos, lack of live data on the ground, absence of“operational” context. Twenty five years later, current technology can help to finally address these challenges: it is now easy and cheap to produce, share, access and store vast amounts of data. This means that on top of enabling the tracking of approval and compliance, Integrated Operations Management w/Smart PTW applications can deliver much more: for example, when connected to deviation management register – traditionally managed by the technical authorities, they provide better context to maintenance teams on the ground. When raising a permit, teams are made aware of the impairments in the work area, and can adjust their risk assessment and planning accordingly: new technology unveals new business processes.

Think beyond paper-on-glass, especially when implementing an operational risk management tool

Pitfall #2: “Let’s implement this new tool. Then, let’s explore the value of integrating it with the rest of our IT-ecosystem”

An operational risk management tool truly delivers its best when connecting with the rest of your eco-system. What is the value of doing some operational planning of a turnaround in an ORM tool, independently from the overall planning of budget and resources in Primavera P6 PPM?

However, too often, an ORM tool is considered as another point solution as opposed to a platform ready to connect with the rest of the tools available in an organisation. In this case, integration is really an after-thought. This mindset can badly impact the success of an ORM platform implementation.

In the diagram below, you will recognize many popular enterprise applications. From an ORM tool perspective, there is value in connecting with all of them.

  • At planning: Complement your MMS systems by getting your ops people to make the plan executable based on the risk level calculated for their asset and the experience they gathered digitally the last time they did the job
  • When risk assessing: Leverage data from your safety cases and get a live view of your operational risk, so that planning and executing work is safer and more efficient
  • When executing and analysing : As work is executed, capture its progress as well as experiential data gathered by your workforce in the field – and use it to analyse work execution and improve efficiency
  • When monitoring equipment:Predictive maintenance solutions predict equipment failure. What about using the same data to help operational teams to determine the cumulative risk of abnormal equipment conditions?
  • Complement your process safety management system by providing the context in which issues happened as well as templates to remedy the situation in a collaborative way – to improve incident management and emergency response

When implementing an ORM tool, think integration – from day #1.

Pitfall #3: “Let’s implement the whole tool in one go so we can quickly maximise our ROI”

When deploying an ORM platform for a greenfield asset, it is fantastic to be able to switch on all the functionalities of the platform and deliver, in one-go, all the benefits of an integrated tool. The return on investment is then maximised and organisations are usually delighted.

But let’s face it, the success of such implementations hide the harsh reality of brownfield assets – which may have been in operation for multiple decades. In these cases, the IT ecosystem is far from simple, with hard-to-replace legacy systems, a fierce resistance to change and a general lack of inter connectivity between systems and processes.

In that case the “bing-bang” approach is recipe for disaster. By understanding the main drivers for a new ORM tool, it is possible to determine which route an organisation should take to adopt a new platform step-by -step.

These are the main paths we have identified:

  • The Activity Management path: this path is usually adopted by organisations looking to replace their legacy permit-to-work system, but with a view to adjust and improve their whole operational planning processes. In this case, such organisations generally start with the following elements from an ORM tool: ePTW solution, integrated planning, SAP PM/Maximo interface and mobile capabilities
  • The Risk Management path: this path is recommended for organisations looking for rapid ROI in the safety area. Organisations typically start with the following elements of an ORM tool: deviations management, process safety barrier management, integration with historian systems and incident management systems

Enterprises tend to switch-on new features of their platform progressively – as the maturity and adoption appetite increases amongst their operational team.

There is not one-size-fits-all path. ORM vendors have well understood it, with solutions which can be fully tailored to meet the current and future maturity of organisations.

Pitfall #4: “Let’s apply the 80/20 rule. Teams will follow if the majority of the tool complies with the operational needs”.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Your operational risk management tool is going to be used daily, probably by hundreds of users. If the tool cannot accommodate the particularities of the processes of your organisation, its adoption is going to be put at risk. Of course, one of the goal of the tool implementation, is to improve the standardization of practices. But the tool should be flexible enough to cover 100% of your needs so that you configure the tool around your processes, as opposed to design your processes around the tool capabilities. You might argue that copy-pasting a standard configuration full of best practices would be a good starting point ( and also more cost-efficient). And it certainly is, if following that first step, you make the effort of going the extra mile, and investing time and money to adjust and arrange the workflows, rules and logic of your tool, so that once they have tested them, your operational teams can fine tune them and make sure it truly reflect YOUR best practices.

With an Operational Risk Management tool, do not cut corners. Make sure you cover every possible scenario.

Pitfall #5: “Let’s adopt the tool, and then let’s think about our digital vision.”

“Today, you have more power in front of view than entire generations that came before you”. This is how Microsoft introduced their AI capabilities a few months ago.

The same applies to Operational Risk Management tools. What is possible today is almost endless.

But in the end, it is only a tool. And it is not about what technology can do, it is about what you can do with it.

As an organisation, you have certainly spotted some processes issues for which an ORM tool could be the solution: is your Isolation Management a bit weak? Do you need to get you Management of Change (MOC) process better connected to your daily operations? Whatever it is you are trying to solve, you need to identify the broader issue you try to tackle: is it an efficiency issue? A learning/experience- sharing issue? A safety issue?

If you do not take a step back before kicking off a tender process, you are at risk of creating a patchwork of un-connected solutions which will prove counter-productive in the long-run. Starting small is probably a wise approach, but be clear about your broader vision as soon as you start.

A vision and digital strategy enables an ORM tool to not only deliver upon its promises, but to expose and fill the process gaps – driving even greater value. BASF has its BASF 4.0 Smart manufacturing program. Saudi Aramco has his Vision 2030 program. Leading organisations are defining a clear strategy to roll out their digital vision, as we outlined in our last webcast for Oil and Gas IQ.

But what is the digital strategy of YOUR organisation? And how does it fit with the implementation of an ORM tool?

SOPHIE MENARD is Petrotechnics’ Partner Solution Manager. She is in charge of identifying synergies with technology partners and system integrators to deliver high-value solutions for Petrotechnics’ Proscient customers. Sophie is deeply involved in transforming the Proscient platform to address the current and future needs of the hazardous industries.

Sophie joined Petrotechnics in 2013, and has spent the last 12 years in the software industry, implementing and designing solutions in various verticals, including oil and gas, automotive and retail. Sophie’s earlier experience included being SAP consultant at Accenture and as a project manager, deploying Oracle retail solution.

Sophie is a graduate of ESCP Europe.

Read more Reality of Risk insights.

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