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How to Increase Capital Project Portfolio Management Efficiency in the Energy Sector

We’ve all heard how digital transformation can help organizations significantly streamline and automate processes.

The energy sector can save as much as 16% from their budget* by embracing digital transformation and adopting industry best practices to deliver a portfolio of capital projects. Imagine how that savings could impact capital and overall efficiencies within your organization!

Changing how capital project portfolios are managed

I recently attended Utility Week Congress 2018, an energy conference for water, gas, and electricity leaders. While there, I spoke about how new technologies will positively impact organizations focused on delivering capital project portfolios.

There is clear interest in improving – certainly on the part of many in attendance – but there is also a great deal of history to overcome.

The unfortunate reality is, the energy industry has lagged at increasing the productivity and efficiency of their capital project portfolio delivery compared to other sectors. In addition, energy organizations struggle to manage a daunting number of programs for new portfolios.

Utilities must shift how they manage their capital project portfolios—including changing archaic business models—if they want to achieve the significant productivity improvements digital technology affords.

Resistance to change

Resistance to change takes many forms. Industry laggards may rear their heads to digital progress. Some managers may feel leery of just how secure “cloud security” really is - or how new technology may threaten their jobs. IT will want to remove any potential risks inherent in a complex integration solution.

Additional obstacles hindering more streamlined capital project portfolio management include:

  • End-of-life solutions
  • Inefficient systems
  • Audit issues
  • Upcoming major upgrades
  • Integration woes
  • Legacy tools

Fortunately, most organizations have a common goal of increasing efficiency. Companies attend conferences such as Utility Week Congress to exchange ideas—and hopefully make decisions—about how digital transformation can help streamline efficiencies even further.

Executives and other decision makers who attended Utility Week Congress say they want easy access and visibility across the project/program lifecycle. To that end, many of these industry leaders are ready to embrace digitalisation.

The power of digital roadmaps

Despite these headwinds, truly innovative companies are saying goodbye to their old ways and embracing digital transformation by developing digital roadmaps – looking two or three years forward - to drive their strategy.

Key to such efforts are technologies that help companies establish solid ROI by increasing their productivity. For utilities and other companies managing large and complex portfolios, a cornerstone of true digital transformation is an integrated capital projects portfolio management system.

An integrated portfolio management system can include many cutting-edge technologies:

  • Smart devices offer a jackpot of data-rich business apps.
  • The cloud supports decentralised supply chains while improving home office security.
  • Location-based services (GPS, RFID, sensors) help track people, equipment, and materials.
  • BIM ensures rich data models are utilised throughout an asset’s life.
  • 4D/5D BIM links schedules to the model for constructability and cost profiling.
  • IoT captures all sensor activity from people, equipment, and materials while providing detailed productivity analytics.
  • AI/machine learning uses data to drive decision making.
  • Video analytics provides progress via drones, etc.

Collaboration is the key

A collaborative platform reflects the spirit of digital transformation, further prompting the adoption of innovative technologies. A common data environment (CDE) helps internal and external stakeholders—as well as the supply chain—capture a true picture of their portfolio or program of capital projects.

A central platform collects, manages, and accesses data in a straightforward publish/subscription model. If a user requires data from a centralised source, they can subscribe to that data (like subscribing to receive notifications on your smart phone).

Energy professionals who own their own data can publish, update, edit, and subscribe to whichever stream of information they choose. This simple, elegant model will reduce the common manual process of managing data.

All data seamlessly flows from a centralised common environment. This data can be used not only with existing data technology, but also as a foundation for innovation in the future.

Global analysts at McKinsey** state that the sooner you embark on your digital journey, the sooner you can gain efficiencies.

In a recent webcast, Kevin Prouty of IDC and I explore where the energy industry is at today and what organisations need to account for to ensure you're competitive in the market. Watch here.

Click here for more information on how we’re helping organisations transform large-scale capital programs management.

*McKinsey Global Institute, “Reinventing Construction: A Route to Higher Productivity”, Feb. 2017.

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