How to build a Technology Plan? A practical guide for leaders and practitioners.

How to build a Technology Plan?

Today’s challenges as a result of COVID-19 and the low oil price are a wake-up call to the Energy industry. The current  business climate poses many threats, but also offer opportunities to do things differently, e.g. by more aggressively applying technology to improve business performance and to stay competitive.

As a result, many people have been tasked with building a Technology Plan for their organisation; we notice that from the requests we have received, particularly in the past months.

For those that have never built such a plan, it can be difficult to determine where to start. 

In this blog we give you some practical guidance.

Understanding the business needs

As a starting point, it is a good practice to collect the business needs. This can be done in different ways, e.g. by interviewing people across the organisation, or e.g. by simply asking people to respond to an e-mail with the question what the 3-5 main challenges are that the person faces in his or her job. 

The starting point can also be existing information, such as a risk register, the scope & schedule for an upcoming turnaround, or e.g. a list of closed-in wells, and the reasons for being closed in.

 

Replicating what has worked for others

Another starting point for building a Technology Plan can be to create an overview of what has worked for others; particularly technologies that worked for companies that operate in the same geographical area and/or have similar type of assets and projects. If something has made money for other companies, it can also be a quick win for your company! 

When it comes to selecting technologies that can be relevant to your business, it’s good to keep in mind that very few assets and projects are truly unique. The typical challenges that e.g. one UK Operator faces are typically not that different from what other Operators in the UK face; and also not that different from what Operators in the Norwegian or Dutch part of the North Sea face. 

TechnologyCatalogue.com can support you with finding solutions that have worked for others. The platform was developed based on first-hand experience that it is often difficult for decision makers to stay up to date on available technology-driven improvement opportunities for their business. TechnologyCatalogue.com helps users to see the wood for the trees when it comes to available technologies. Since the launch, >30,000 unique users have accessed the platform. The platform helps suppliers to create more visibility for their technologies, this way increasing the chances that the technologies get used. It offers additional channels to reach end-users. 

Suppliers can promote their technologies on TechnologyCatalogue.com for free, and individual users can access the content for free. In addition, they can commission relevant services to support the uptake of technology.

 

Creating a list of technologies

It is a good practice to give assets and projects something to choose from.

Whenever we support a company with building a Technology Plan, we typically start with a list of ~30-50 technologies per asset or project. This includes digital as well as non-digital technologies. The technologies are selected taking into account the business need, and also taking into account what has worked for others, in line with the paragraphs above.

To aid the selection process, we then provide the following information for each technology, to the extent that the information is available.

  • Names of the supplier(s) that can deliver the technology, either directly or through another party

  • Brief description of the technology

  • Business impact indication

  • Summary of technical specifications

  • Pros/cons

  • Technology Readiness Level

  • Deployment references - overview of companies that have used the technology, including companies in the same geographical area; or companies with assets or projects similar to assets and projects of your company.  

  • Reviews from independent experts

With the information available conscious decision can be taken.

 

Technology Workshop

The list of technologies forms the input for a workshop. We recommend to reserve 4-8 hours for such workshop, dependent on the breadth of the challenges that need to be discussed. 

Dependent on the size of your company, it can be one single workshop in which a technology screening is done for the entire company. It can also be done through a series of workshops.

The workshop can be held face-to-face, but it’s also perfectly fine to do through a series of video-calls.

The people to be invited for the workshop need to be directly involved with the challenges, and be in a role that they can take the follow-up action leading to getting the technology used. 

The following can serve as agenda for such workshop:

  • Safety & Introductions. 

  • Assessing the Impact versus Do-Ability of technology

  • Go through the list of identified opportunities. Rank the technologies based on impact and do-ability. 

  • Select 3- 10 key opportunities, and estimate the business impact 

  • Identify a Technology Deployment Lead and Decision Maker for each technology

  • Next steps & closure 

Let’s go through the agenda items in a bit more detail.

 

Safety & Introductions

It is recommended that each workshop is kicked-off by a senior leader in the Operator organisation, to clearly give the message that it is an activity that senior management considers important.

 

Assessing the Impact versus Do-Ability of technology

A key element of the workshop is to rank the identified technologies in terms of Impact versus Do-Ability. 

When we support Operators with assessing the Impact versus Do-Ability, we make use of our Tech Positioning Programme. Details about this Tech Positioning Programme can be found in one of our recent blogs.

With the Tech Positioning Programme, a technology is assessed against criteria grouped under 7 themes, through a structured dialogue with key stakeholders. TheTech Positioning Programme provides key insights into the reasons why a technology is difficult or relatively easy to deploy. Also, based on the outcome of the Tech Positioning Programme, specific actions can be defined to increase the chances of success. Our experience is that most challenges for getting technology deployed are non-technical, and the Tech Positioning Programme reflects that.

The outcome of the Tech Positioning Programme is visualised with a spider diagram and an Impact versus Do-ability matrix. The matrix is particularly useful when showing the position of multiple technologies in one graph.

Outcome of the Tech Positioning Programme using an Impact versus Do-ability Matrix

 

 

 

Outcome of the Tech Positioning Programme using an Impact versus Do-ability Matrix

 

It is important that all workshop attendees reflect beforehand what the key aspects are that determine the Impact and Do-ability of a technology, and to have an open dialogue during the workshop. 

Go through the list of identified opportunities

The next agenda item of the workshop is to go through the list of technologies, and assess the position on the Impact versus Do-ability matrix for each technology. The outcome can be summarised using the Impact versus Do-Ability Matrix.

It is key that the workshop facilitator gently challenges the workshop participants where needed, and also holds up the mirror! It is not uncommon that comments such as “this won’t work for us” come up, and these need to be addressed, e.g. by pointing out facts that a technology has already been used X times by companies operating under similar conditions.

Using the Impact versus Do-Ability matrix to show the position of multiple technologies

 

 

 

Using the Impact versus Do-Ability matrix to show the position of multiple technologies

Select 3- 10 key opportunities

Based on the analysis done, a selection can be made of the top opportunities to pursue.

It is important though that your portfolio contains the right type of technologies; not only technologies that can make an impact in the medium- to longer-term, but also technologies that can make an impact right away. This is particularly important in today’s business environment, in which there is limited appetite to go after technologies that have a long payback time.

Selecting key opportunities

 

 

 

Selecting key opportunities

The quick wins not only deliver short-term impact; they can also help to pave the path for the next wave of high impact technologies. After all, an Asset Manager is more willing to try something new if this is part of a portfolio of solutions that also contain items that have a very high chance on a significant return on investment.

As part of the workshop, it is important to make a rough business impact estimate for the selected technologies, in terms of OPEX, CAPEX, Production, CO2 emission reduction, safety improvement, and potentially other measures.

 

Identify a Technology Deployment Lead and Decision Maker for each technology

It is important that a Lead is identified for every technology that has been selected. This person is responsible for working out a detailed plan, and for getting the technology deployed. For each technology, it also needs to be defined who the decision maker is. 

 

Next steps & closure 

The outcome of the workshop should be presented to the same senior leader that kicked-off the workshop. This way immediately highlighting the potential size of the prize to the company! The support from the senior leader will help to build momentum.

 

Follow-up working sessions & dialogues

Following the workshop, it is important to further determine the specific business impact of the technology. 

Also, a detailed action plan needs to be created for each technology. The insights of the Tech Positioning Programme can help. This programme is based on >600 deployments that we have been involved in over the years, and can help to define specific technical and non-technical actions to be taken to position the technology for success.
 

Compiling the Technology Plan

Working the steps as described in this blog forms the basis for a Technology Plan for an asset, project, or the entire company.

It requires significant effort to compile such a plan when you do it for the first time. Once it is in place, there are many opportunities to streamline the process.

For example, the moment you keep an evergreen overview of business challenges, and an evergreen overview of technologies that can be relevant to your business, the selection of technologies goes quickly.

Just having a Technology Plan is not sufficient though. It is important to keep in mind all critical success factors for technology deployment, such that you generate most value for your business through technology deployment! Please see our recent blog, How effective is your company in getting technology deployed?.

 

Conclusion

Although today’s business environment is clearly very challenging, there are many opportunities to make a difference with technology. A fit-for-purpose Technology Plan is thereby key. Through this blog, we hope you gained some insights on which steps to take!

We can support you with building a Technology Plan, and also support you with setting yourself up for success such that you can do it yourself in the future with a minimum of external support.

Curious how we can help you? Please contact us at info@technologycatalogue.com!

About us

The founders of TechnologyCatalogue.com led technology deployment activities in support of assets and projects across Shell. Over 600 deployments were successfully delivered, resulting in a very significant impact on safety, production and cost. We understand what it takes to get technology deployed, including all change management aspects related to it. Since starting TechnologyCatalogue.com in March 2018, we have supported multiple operators in Upstream and Downstream with technology deployment. 

Our platform TechnologyCatalogue.com was developed based on the first-hand experience that it is often difficult for decision-makers to stay up to date on available technology-driven improvement opportunities for their business. It was launched in Q3 2018 and is steadily growing in terms of content & functionality. Since the launch, >30,000 unique users have accessed the platform. We’re also developing customised versions of the platform. For example, jointly with National Energy Resources Australia, we have delivered a customised version of the portal for Australia (Nera.TechnologyCatalogue.com)

In addition to TechnologyCatalogue.com,  we also support suppliers and end-users with getting technology deployment done, through consultancy & workshops.