Digital transformation is shifting the structure of work in nearly every industry and fundamentally changing the value proposition for customers. As part of PETRONAS’ overall digital transformation, Front End Engineering (FEE) has embarked on an ambitious program to digitalize and integrate the company's Front End project realization processes and applications into a single digital tool, referred to as Concept Factory. This paper reviews the journey to initiate, frame and deliver the Front End work process digitalization.
The Concept Factory digital transformation program first focused on a strategy to identify the pain points within the traditional project realization work process and how this is impacting both quality and speed of delivery. Once the pain points were identified, assessment of how digitalization may eliminate the pain points and enhance the project realization process value was completed. This assessment also included an end-to-end review of where the current Front End work processes to identify barriers that challenged the ease of digitalization; these included highly manual and siloed work processes, data management and tools; insufficient leveraging off the extensive Company knowledge databases and analogue projects; and inefficient technical and cost benchmarking to assure robustness of Front End work. This resulted in a more significant Front End process transformation being needed to increase the potential value creation through the digital transformation.
A stepwise, iterative approach using Agile project management techniques has been used to harness the full capabilities of digital integration and analytics to FEL-2 rather than merely digitalizing the existing manual workflow. This will be done by first automating and upgrading databases and discrete data hand-offs to be "digital ready", independently developing and digitalizing the full suite of Front End technical and cost analysis tools, then integrating these tools within a common Concept Factory analytics platform for both stand-alone Front End analysis and as a domain tool within the broader Field Development Planning digital framework.
Several technical and organizational challenges were identified that need to be overcome from business case syndication to adoption. As the daily work routines of employees are being radically changed to adapt to the rapid change of digital technology, ongoing alignment was done to engage the Front End team and broader stakeholder groups in the process through demonstrations and feedback sessions. In addition, cascading technical needs through the digital team execution required ongoing alignment through daily Scrums, Sprint Planning and demonstration sessions.
Fully integrated Front End process digitalization has rarely been attempted within E&P companies. However, this has the potential to disrupt the Front End work process from a manual, siloed generation of deliverables to an automated and integrated techno-commercial process focused on replication, speed and accuracy, a re-focus the Front End team on Value Creation, Assurance and Risk Management initiatives.