Enbridge’s continuous improvement and digital transformation journey
Biju Misra, Director of Operations for Enterprise Services at Enbridge, speaks to Oil & Gas IQ about digital transformation and process automation in oil and gas, as well as the company’s Automation Center of Excellence
Biju Misra, Director of Operations for Enterprise Services at Canadian multinational energy transportation company Enbridge, will be among the speakers at the upcoming OPEX in Oil & Gas Online 2020.
Ahead of the free-to-attend digital event, Misra spoke with Oil & Gas IQ to discuss a range of process excellence and operational issues in the oil and gas industry, including Enbridge’s Automation Center of Excellence (CoE), digital transformation, using technology to drive business performance and breaking down silos.
OGIQ: What can you tell us about Enbridge’s digital transformation journey?
Misra: I don’t think we’re any different than any other company who is going through this. We recognize that technology has an important place in driving business performance.
There are a number of initiatives, such as process automation, but there is also the innovation part of what we do – trying to understand ‘is there a different and better way of doing things with technology?’ In general, digital transformation is like that.
There are a number of things out there in the market today, from a technology perspective, and the question is how do you put them together to drive business performance?
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OGIQ: How have you realigned strategy and operations to make this transformation possible?
Misra: It is important to look at business and technology road mapping. It means looking at a three-year horizon and plotting out what it is that we want to be able to achieve. The road map then outlines what needs to be done to achieve these goals.
Then you’ve got to execute on those things year by year. Once a year passes, add another year onto your road map so it remains a rolling three-year vision. That offers a clear picture of what you are trying to achieve and it gives a sense of strategy to all of the teams involved.
‘How will what we are doing now support our goals?’ Because once a new technology system is decided on, you still have to implement it and get it up and running. You have to make the most of what you build. It’s not just about maintaining, it’s about realizing the maximum benefit in what you’ve created.
OGIQ: What are some of the challenges that you have faced along the way?
Misra: In general, when it comes to large transformations, the challenge is always that organizations get fatigued. There are many different forces at play and a lot of new initiatives getting started. It is a lot of stuff in addition to your day to day and it can be difficult for people. I have seen this happen over and over again through my career.
Overcoming this is a matter of prioritization. It goes back to the vision and the strategy to decide what is important. What is important to me and my team might not be as important to the company as a whole. You have to analyze quickly and be specific in what you are trying to achieve.
Second to this is the execution aspect, and that is paramount. Moving beyond planning requires a level of discipline and focus, and that comes down to teams and their behavior.
Teams always need to be reminded of what it is they are doing and why they are doing it.
They need to be measured on their ability to execute and they have to have a say in how that is done. In a big company, finding the right people for the right teams can be difficult, but it is an important step in successful execution.
Thirdly are the company silos. Every company has them, in which each area of the business operates in their own world, disconnected from the other business functions. Breaking down the silos starts at the top with setting priorities and properly communicating why they are important. You’ve got to link personal objectives with the overall strategy.
Lastly, it takes time. It can be difficult for leaders because there are a lot of things that go into running the company, growing the company, and driving transformation. Depending on what level, it’s very easy to pass judgment on. Transformation is alive, and it takes time and energy to get done.
OGIQ: You were also involved in setting up the Automation Centre of Excellence at Enbridge. Can you tell us more about that?
Misra: Like many organizations, we also see the value in process automation and created a Center of Excellence. The technology platforms out in the market today are stable and can automate repeatable and consistent processes really well.
What we have seen is that process automation can be applied to all parts of an organization with measurable benefits. Where many organizations struggle is in setting up a CoE and executing.
We figured out how to do this quickly with the help of our partners and have been implementing “bots” to automate processes. I will be speaking to this experience at the event.
OGIQ: How are you creating a culture that fosters technology adoption and continuous improvement and innovation?
Misra: I think there is a lot of work being done in terms of innovation by creating spaces where people can creatively think, and use design thinking to solve big problems. But you also need that continuous improvement mindset.
If individuals aren’t continuously improving, then neither are the teams. Innovation doesn’t happen without a learning culture. Continuous improvement is always challenging the status quo and I have seen this work in many organizations I have worked in.
When it comes to technology adoption, we have to look at the employee (user) experience, and we have to show that work is actually easy. The technologies we give our employees have to be ready to be used on the job to make their jobs easier – it is not their job to figure out how to use them.
OGIQ: What’s next for Enbridge on the technology front?
Misra: The move to cloud-computing-software-as-a-service, innovation, process automation and process mining are all big things for us right now.
As the company grows and gets bigger in size we’ve got to look at common systems, getting to process efficiencies and everything that goes with it.
Over time there are some basic things that could be made easier. If you look at some general stories around digital transformation, there are two things that actually stick out the most when people are asked. One is that people want software solutions that makes their job easier and the other is people want to have access to what they want, when they want it, as quickly as they want it. In your day-to-day job that’s exactly what you want. So, we are focusing on how to give people access to the information they want as quickly as possible. This is true for every company today.
Biju Misra is an engineer by education and has been in the transformation technology disruption space for 20 years. He has worked in organizations of all sizes in both the private and public sectors in India, Japan, the US and Canada.
As Director of Operations for Enterprise Services at Enbridge, Misra is actively involved in transformation programs and it is his responsibility to drive operational excellence across the company’s North American team.
His role involves process re-engineering and looking at how to do things faster, better and cheaper. To do that, Enbridge are leveraging process automation and process mining technologies to increase quality, accuracy and speed, in order to enhance user experience.