How to Align Technology with Process and People in Asset Intensive Industries.

The Hard Problem of Aligning the Value Chain.

One of the core operational challenges enterprise leaders face in Asset Intensive Industry is the alignment of process, people and technology. Misalignment of the value chain causes service disruptions, delivery delays, asset breakdown and ultimately, failure of the business's goals.

"The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” - Bill Gates

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The Executive Problem.

Most executives today understand that business alignment is imperative to success. Executives comprehend that Strategy, Management Systems, Resources and Organisational Capabilities must align to deliver on the aims of the business. Yet too often executives will focus on one aspect of the enterprise without considering the overarching alignment of all the moving parts.

The enterprise structure in totality is often rendered into an Org chart, where the main operational units articulated therein form the essential components of value. If we are to bring an alignment view to the enterprise, in entirety the operations must be seen as more than a set of greater or lesser value boxes and wires on an ever changing and easy to forget chart. If the enterprise is not seen as a set of coherent and connected value chains then alignment of the end-to-end operations is nigh impossible.

The Responsibility Problem.

Who is responsible for bringing alignment across people, process and technology? The two most common answers are either A) I don't know or B) The CEO.

The issue with the first answer is self evident, if no one is sure who is responsible for alignment across the business structure then it is virtually guaranteed that alignment will not occur of its own accord. However that answer is all too common, as generally no one is functionally responsible for the overall alignment of the enterprise. Often business leaders seek to optimise and protect their own domains rather than collaborate and align across the entire enterprise.

The second answer is also flawed. Due to the vast and complex nature of Asset Intensive Operations, relying on the wisdom of one single individual to ensure end-to-end alignment is a risky proposition.

The Complexity Problem.

Asset intensive operations are often vast enterprises that are complex in a variety of ways. Disparate locations within the operations, a manifold employee base, diverse customer groups with a variety of needs and expectations together with varying business lines all contribute to the complexity of the operation. These large, complex and multifaceted operations require a greater level of focus and a high level of strategic perspective from the leadership group to ensure smooth end-to-end operations across the entire enterprise.

The Day to Day Operational Problem.

Real time business activity and the day to day functions of the operations can erode time available for the hard discussions that must take place for overall operational alignment to occur. Courage, perspicacity and consistent effort is required to implement and maintain end-to-end alignment across all business units. Being able to step back and take a high level perspective of the entire operation should be a priority for the leadership group. Too often the daily demands of the enterprise will supersede the high level analysis that is required to implement changes that bring about business alignment.

Solving the Hard Problem of Operational Alignment.

There is no cookie cutter fix to the hard problem of aligning operational processes, people and technology in heavy asset industry. The complex nature of asset intensive operations defy easy solutions. Often executives are too close to the problems and cannot extricate themselves from day to day operational mode to engage with the high level strategic evaluation necessary to identify operational blackspots and inefficiencies in the overall operations of an asset intensive enterprise.

Synergistics Australia have engaged with many clients in the Heavy Asset Industry to provide this high level analysis. From Oil and Gas operations, to Bauxite mining and Aluminium smelting, to name but a few, Synergistics Australia has delivered high level analysis of the entire operational scope of an enterprise, generated a targeted change management plan that focuses on aligning people, processes and technology in order to deliver the most value. We quantify the magnitude of change across people, processes and technology, then focus change management in areas that will generate the greatest return on investment.


Synergistics Australia

If some of the questions that have been raised in this article resonate with problems that face your enterprise we would be happy to discuss how Synergistics Australia can bring our best of class personnel, depth of operational understanding and broad comprehension of emergent technologies to bear on the hard problem of aligning people, process and technology within your operation. For more information please click here to initiate discussions.