Tuesday, June 20, 2017

TWIST as a Service for your next Turnaround, Shutdown or Outage

The easy button for a complex event

The Problem

Your plant, or a part of it, is to be 'turned around' in 12 months or more. You want to ensure that all members of your company teams, and the contractors that will help you, are always on the same page, along with the Safety, Inspection and Operations teams. This is a big project that involves costs of $1,000,000 or more a day - not including lost revenue due to no production during the turnaround. Integration, Collaboration and Communication will help ensure that things go well, ie.: no one gets hurt; the plant starts up on time; costs are controlled; no environmental issues affect your neighbors; and you have no problems starting up the plant.
You have done many of these turnarounds before, yet you know that you keep re-inventing the process, mostly due to newer team members not having learned from the lessons that were learned by their predecessors.
Spreadsheets are massaged; meetings are large and not very productive; timely permits are consistently a bottleneck; time entry is cumbersome and expensive and not accurate; The list goes on - you can add to it based on your experiences.
Today, you manage your turnaround with a number of tools and people - for readiness, scope development and optimization, procurement, timekeeping, cost control, scheduling. It takes a many people, each working in his/her/their silo and trailer, who then share their reports via emails and in meetings. This is the way it's always been. All that's changed is that more people now work in more spreadsheets and systems and this means data is more fragmented (i.e. not integrated) than it ever was.
It's time for a change to a better, less costly, more sustainable, more predictable, less complex to learn and use approach, that that uses tools available today. Everyone in your workforce is already familiar with using apps on their smartphone. You need a system that works like apps do - easy, no learning and with great results.

The Solution

You need a single system, with all of your stakeholders, planning and execution teams working off the same data. This includes scope development, estimating, budget development, procurement of long-lead and off-the-shelf items, delivery tracking, tool shop management and also management of the time spent (incurred) by each contractor and company team member. There should be no place to hide your data. Hours worked must contribute to incurred cost immediately. Materials procured immediately affects cost and schedules immediately show the delaying effects of based on commitment and committed date. There is no need to re-enter the data - they are re-used as needed by the reports and dashboards to always present a current picture of the turnaround / shutdown / outage / project health in your 5 major aspects: Safety, Environment, Cost, Schedule and Quality.
Some of you have also worked hard to build your own system. We understand your pain - we've experienced it as well. Luckily, our hard-won experience and laser focus on improving the game for all turnaround management teams is what makes our results more sustainable and all-encompassing.

The Service

TeamWork Group is happy to present a service that we have developed over 30 plus years that includes all of the lessons learned in real turnarounds / shutdowns / outages / projects in plants and refineries: TeamWork Integrated Solutions Technology (TWIST). TWIST is your answer to the nagging issues of poor and inefficient communications in meetings; non-collaborative use of budget, commitments, incurred, expended, workforce and other data; and the lack of integration between systems and teams.
TeamWork Group offers this service on line - the only software tool each user needs is a system or device that has a Microsoft Internet Explorer or Google Chrome or Apple Safari browser. 
TWIST service is quoted and billed on a per turnaround / shutdown / outage / project basis, with discounts for multiple events or multi-year contracts. Support for a turnaround /shutdown / outage / project starts approximately 1 year prior to the execution phase and continues for approximately 1 year after startup or commissioning.
The cost for the service is a fraction of the costs that you now incur due to multiple handling of the same data by many people in a silo-ized environment.
What can you expect to be included in this service?
  • 24x7 access for each member (no user count) of each of your teams - including company and contractor users;
  • Standard Management reports and dashboards for Safety, Quality, Environmental, Cost and Schedule;
  • Initial Data Imports from ERP, data or spreadsheet-based systems;
  • Pre-Turnaround / Pre-Shutdown Readiness tracking;
  • Scope development, including collaboration tools for discussions with Operations, Inspection, etc.;
  • Estimating - of labor, equipment, materials, consumables, services and subcontractor costs;
  • Budgeting of costs as a baseline for tracking costs;
  • Planning of sequential, resource-loaded equipment and system-based work;
  • Scheduling of work based on available resources from company and contractor pools, and based on the turnaround / shutdown / outage milestones;
  • Change management to track changes to the Budget and Schedule based changes in scope or trends due to extenuating circumstances such as weather and unexpected events;
  • Procurement management, from material take-off, to estimate, to requisition to request for quotes (RFQ); to purchase order (PO), to receiving (MRR) or materials, consumables, equipment rentals and services;
  • Quality management of received materials;
  • Tracking of Risks and Hazards and Safety incidents and mitigation measures;
  • Time management of all crafts based on timesheet entry against planned work items;
  • End to End Earned value management-based (EVM) Cost management and reports - a result of the rest of the data already being in the system - with no need for any additional entry or management;
  • Company and Contractor rate management ensures that accurate rates are used in determination of labor, equipment, materials and services costs - this data is protected for each contractor and company;
  • HR-related data for company and contractor people - including attendance and leave management;
  • Invoice accrual and validation against issued POs;
  • Gate entry/exit log used to validate time reported;
You get the picture - we really do mean one system to manage your turnaround. Ready to get started? We are. Contact us at www.teamworkgroup.com

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Why TeamWork Integrated Solutions Technology? An Answer to a New Developer or Analyst

TeamWork Integrated Solutions Technology - that's a mouthful.  It does, however, provide a solid start to understanding what TeamWork Group does, why it does it and how this helps our clients.  This article reviews the broad reasons that our solution is needed in the marketplace, and the means that we have adopted to provide the solution.  Finally it also discusses why our approach is compelling, while differing from much of what is available in the market in 2017.  In the incessant noise of the technology job world, we think that an explanation such as this is useful for people looking for both a career as well as a mission that is sustainable.

The Market for Technology Solutions

Virtually any business today, regardless of size, relies heavily on the use of spreadsheets to manage critical data.  Companies (including agencies and institutions) with deep pockets for a deep bench of IT people may also have a strategic data solution - such as an enterprise resource planning system (ERP).  Much money has been spent on deploying expensive ERPs and for consulting services following the deployment of such systems. Rather than reducing spreadsheet usage, however, ERP limitations cause users to export even more data to spreadsheets in order to accomplish basic tasks.  An ERP is a behemoth of a database that requires expensive consulting resources to navigate the terrain.
TeamWork Solutions stands in contrast to such systems, by being much less expensive and intuitive and easy to configure to meet virtually any data management need.
Because of the 'unwieldiness' of enterprise systems, people use spreadsheets to expedite their work. A TeamWork System Analyst can quickly adapt these spreadsheet needs into sustainable processes, thus enabling our clients to focus on their core business mission, rather than engaging in complex wrangling of spreadsheet-based models of their data.
Mobile and social media apps have shown the importance and the pervasiveness of collaboration and integration.  These abilities are integral to cloud-based apps - with data delivered to users on platforms and devices of their choice.  TeamWork Solutions has tightly linked collaboration opportunities to each data line in each app.  This means team members can discuss a data item specifically - rather than generally in an email, as is now done.
With over 20 years of integration with ERPs, we can also co-exist and leverage ERP data, so that customers who have already invested in these technologies can increase their return on those investments by using the data warehouse concepts built into TeamWork Solutions.

TeamWork Group's Technology

What makes us different? Simply put, we have, over 20 years, developed a metadata method that enables quick, error-free configuration of solutions which we call 'apps'.  We configure each app to support the daily tasks that a person's role requires him/her/they to perform.  This focus on Role, and our acceptance that a user, department or company can have different requirements today than they did yesterday, is what makes us different.  Our experience makes us comfortable that we can easily deliver the solutions expected with less effort than is needed with ERPs.
Our databases are hosted in the cloud and are backed up to alternate locations in the cloud - thus ensuring redundancy in the case of disaster recovery procedures.
Our proprietary, next generation, data communication manager (which we call NextGen or NG) is at the core of our solution.  It acts as the traffic cop that gets requests from the client, directs the request to the database, then gets the result from the database and sends the requested information, properly packaged, back to the client.
The client is a standard browser that does additional processing to format the results for the client user to view.
TeamWork developers are engaged in each level of this stack of software - which gives us control over the end user experience.

TeamWork Group Team

We recruit TeamWork System Analysts local to the area that our clients operate.  The internet has enabled us to work with you as long as you have an internet connection. Training, for the technically adept,  is quick (4 weeks) and results are seen by the client in days or weeks instead of months and years.
As our potential clients include 1000s of contractors in the US and Canada, 1000s of City, County and Local Government entities, TeamWork Group's potential need for System Analysts is huge.  We have also worked with owner companies to help manage their assets in maintenance environments.
We are doing due diligence in preparing repeatable processes and documenting techniques that will enable quick knowledge transfer to TeamWork System Analysts as they come on board.

Want to Join Us?

As stated previously, we are always looking to meet and connect with technically adept people that could fill the role of system analysts.  As our client base increases, we'll be able to engage in an employer to employee, business to contractor, or business to business relationship - depending on what makes sense for you.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Managing Maintenance in Programs and Projects, Including Turnarounds


Maintenance work is what we do on equipment that is operational and that helps keep that equipment running in peak condition.  Sometimes the equipment has to be shut down (i.e. made non-operational) and, while it's down, it represents lost revenue due to lost productivity. So, we need to, effectively, efficiently and safely, do the work needed to get it back online. If the equipment is part of a larger process, the process may need to also be shut down, meaning that an opportunity to maintain other equipment and facilities may be presented.  If a number of processes are shut down at the same, or in overlapping, time-frames, this may be considered a 'turnaround' or an 'outage' of the process unit being shut down for maintenance.
This overview is the first step in a series of steps that together will help your maintenance and turnaround scope development, planning and execution effort benefit from the integrated approach to work management, that is enabled by today's cloud technology.
TeamWork Group's people and partners are experienced in managing maintenance and turnarounds and this expertise is built into the cloud-accessible solution, TeamWork Integrated Solution Technology, for companies, agencies, institutions and departments of all sizes.  You are invited to proceed, with the processes outlined here, in a website, with your data, now!  No need for complex, time-consuming, expensive system analysis.  The data you manage here is yours always and can be easily migrated to another system, should you choose to do so. Go to www.teamworkgroup.com to get started with TeamWork Integrated Solutions Technology. Tell us what you want to see and do and be pleased with the quick response that you receive that amazing efficiency that you generate over current approaches that are tied-down with ERPs or out of control with spreadsheets, or both!

Steps in Managing Turnaround and Routine Work

  1. Build and Maintain the Site/Area/Unit/Equipment foundation
Your plant site consists of  a number of Operating or Business Areas, each of which encompasses one or more Operating Units, each of which, in turn has a number of Equipment Assets.  Each of these Equipment Assets and its components is the primary entity being maintained and is created as a package of work steps that is included in scope of the turnaround project or the routine maintenance program.
This Site/Area/Unit/Equipment foundation brings consistency to your processes. Once you commit to maintaining this consistent foundation, you are on the way to saving your information for future analysis, you can see work what was done previously and compare scope and cost and lessons learned more easily. This also saves your team a huge amount of effort and money.

Want to get started at no cost to you?  Send us your email address and we'll contact you.  You can also send us your Area, Unit and Equipment lists to be uploaded - or enter them yourself directly in your dedicated, secure area of the cloud.
We'll discuss each of the remaining steps in blog posts, and to provide you with a view of the remaining discussion points, we provide and outline below.  Each step is echoed in the TeamWork Integrated Solution Technology work site.  Contact us to have this system made available for your team in support of your upcoming turnaround or other maintenance program.
These steps and topics may change based on your input and questions.
  • Build an Operations Plan for upcoming programs and turnaround projects, and build shutdown and startup plans for each operating unit.
  • Use the Asset list as a source for Building the Scope of the maintenance needed for your program or turnaround.
  • Build, share and Review and Approve the Scope for maintenance and capital work in each operating unit.
  • Use the scope to build a detailed Cost Estimate and Plan for the project or program based on approved scope.
  • Procure Long Lead Items to ensure timely availability within your planned schedule.
  • Use the scope, estimate and plan to prepare detail bid packages for contracts for construction work packages (CWP) in the RFQ Packages (request for quote) process.
  • Complete the Bid Analysis, and Award Contracts to the winning bidders.
  • Confirm Project and Program Procedures for Collaboration, Communication and Escalation during execution phase.
  • Establish a Detailed Integrated Schedule for the work, including delivery of critical equipment, materials and personnel.
  • Procurement of Consumable Material Items, Tools and Rental Equipment.
  • Use Contractor Execution Daily Work Lists to deploy crews and to collect progress data each day.
  • Collect Incurred Time and Materials Hours and Costs against each activity of the Daily Work List.
  • Collect Progress against each item on the Daily Work List
  • Receive and Ship Materials, Tools and Equipment that were purchased or rented.
  • Review Critical Work Report to mitigate potential Safety, Quality, Environmental, Cost and Schedule issues.
  • At completion of the project or program, Review Lessons Learned and Modify Processes as needed for the next project or program.
Up next: Build an Operations Plan for upcoming programs and turnaround projects and build shutdown and startup plans for each operating unit.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Are we overselling the value of Integrated systems?

Many of us have two separate aspects to our lives: Our Work World  and Our Non-Work World.
In our non-work world, we use smartphones constantly. Each phone has dozens of, apps that each do one thing extremely well:  
  • A weather app helps keep you dry and bundled up wherever you are;
  • A social media app has replaced the need for newspapers;
  • A media app lets you bypass the social media filter;
  • A cab-hailing app gets you from A to B, pronto;
  • A music app helps you spin session go smoothly;
  • Your airline app lets you check in for your flights easily;
  • The list goes on - and is different for each person.  
These apps do not talk to each other, yet they are incredibly helpful as they focus solely on your preferences and needs.
They are certainly not integrated!

In our work world, we are likewise heavily dependent on technology.  Here, however, the technology is NOT focused on you.  Your company (or agency, or institution, or department, etc.) has spent a significant amount of money to provide a suite of secure, protected, intrusion-proof systems to enable the business to proceed easily and within the standards of the business.  This appears to be a solved problem.  Logic implies that a business's systems are integrated - that would be a key to its success!
When reviewing your business's practices, the evidence shows that you are succeeding despite a lack of integration.
  • Emails in Outlook or GMail are not integrated;
  • Excel spreadsheets are not integrated and provide a means for data to land in insecure areas;
  • Storing files in a common location is a start to integration, that needs to link to the data that relates to the file.  For example a photo or video of an associate should be visible when that associate's data is being viewed;
  • Repetitive assembling monthly reports from disparate, disconnected systems is an indicator of lack of integration.

So, what are examples of real integration?
  • You initiate an email from within your data - and have the email link to that data for others to see;
  • You build and use data tables to manage your data - and have auditability for each change of significant data;
  • You attach your files to a data item - so that these files are available to team members when they look at that data;
  • You create a process to consistently assemble your monthly report data in order to be consistent and predictable;
It's not hard to see that Integration increases opportunities for improving all aspects of a business's performance.  So, why is integration not the norm?
That is a subject for another blog.

Let's get integrated!

Note: Trade names mentioned in this post are the property of their respective owners.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Missing Bridge to your Successful Strategy? Logistics!

Company websites and literature loudly toot their Corporate Objectives, their Mission Statements, and offer nice 'sound bite' forward-looking comments.
What's not so clear is the means that they employ to get to the ends that they seek, or that they will employ to meet the customer's needs.

Each company or agency or institution has strategic objectives.  These objectives drive the organization towards a commonly accepted set of outcomes - i.e. over a long period of time.

They also inform the actions that team members take to help move to the goal.  These actions are tactical, usually short term actions, that, taken in aggregate help to deliver on the strategic objectives.

Organizations have turned to 'strategic solutions' (like ERPs) as a vehicle to manage strategic data. These systems promise to help assimilate all of your corporate data into a centrally-accessible database, that is usable by team members.
After 25 - some years of ERPs in the market, we have a good idea of their successes and failures. Qualified successes center around back-office tasks like Accounting and Payroll and possibly Procurement and Supply Chain. These process are now organized more cleanly than in the pre-ERP era.

ERP failures are related to tactical day-to-day tasks in Project Management, Cost Control, Maintenance Management, etc.  

What are the determinants of a Fail?

  • Actions being taken outside of the ERP - which leads to the inability to know when mission-critical decisions are taken, by whom, and the reasons for these changes in direction;
  • Exporting of data from ERP to tactical tools for manual processing and decision-making - again, outside the ERP;
  • Lack of Audit trail for decision making;
  • Lack of a consistent, business process-based flow, including sign-off on significant data and costs.
  • Lack of a feed-back loop for improvement of functional processes

What's the solution - what can overcome these fails?

A Logistics-sensitive system.  It is cost-prohibitive to involve ERP vendor or Consulting resources to help you manage constantly changing and evolving business processes. This leads to what we now see is the continuing failure of ERPs to deliver on their promise.

How would a logistics-sensitive system be different?

  • Build your Business Stages and Deliverables or Procedures required for each Stage in the system as an integral definition of the Strategy;
  • Build the Process steps and sign-offs required for each Deliverable or Procedure - i.e. Tactical steps;
  • Create timely, notifications to each team player and track sign-offs and data management actions silently and efficiently as part of the Logistical support for the organization.

Spreadsheets do not have Logistics - you do not know who made a data change.
ERPs have little control on Logistics - as much work is done externally to the ERP.
An integrated, logistics-enabled system, like TeamWork Integrated Solutions Technology (TWIST), empowers teams to,seamlessly, follow defined tactical steps - in the knowledge that each step leads to the strategic objective and contributes to an improvement in business processes when gaps or bottlenecks are discovered.

Not a bad result for an economic alternative to expensive, traditional ERP-type solutions!
Let's help you get started. We'll even integrate with your expensive ERP!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Data Governance - why your spreadsheet is problematic

I remember my first spreadsheet.  In fact, I remember hearing about electronic spreadsheets while I was working on a real live paper spreadsheet.  Estimating for structural steel in the pre-PC days meant using a spreadsheet and tallying columns of numbers on my HP calculator (an HP-35, in case you are interested).

So, I was thrilled with the prospect of an electronic spreadsheet.  The first thing I stopped doing when I started spreadsheeting - was coding in BASIC.  I started using macros instead.
This romance with spreadsheets last about 5 years, by which time I was tied up in knots with all of the flexibility that I now had.  I could do anything, when I wanted to.  I could come in the next day and undo anything and re-do it differently the next day again.  I noted that I started saving versions of the spreadsheet I was working with, in order to go back, if I needed to.  The hard disk started getting a lot of versions of a lot of spreadsheets.  But this is all old news.
We are currently enabling a history tracking tool in our web-based solution and this reminded me yet again, of the fact that corporations, agencies and institutions that continue to use spreadsheets for mission critical data suffer from a huge loss in productivity, especially of their key personnel.

A well-designed data management system ensures that any mission critical data has an associated audit trail - so one can easily track: Who made what changes? And when?  Who approved the changes?  When were the changes approved?  When were the changes ready to be approved or signed off?

Your business processes must ensure that business-critical data is managed via timely approvals and sign-offs.  This needs to be implemented easily so that it is not a brake on the business flow.
The 'well-designed data management system' does this tracking and helps make your company, agency or institution hum with efficiency.  You cannot afford to do this any other way.  It's also the only sustainable approach.
Sayonara spreadsheets!  I'll continue to use them for analysis and computation and prototyping concept for data management.  But not for mission-critical data entry, reporting or management.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Into the Woods (of Corporate IT Governance)

In 30 plus years of delivering solutions to clients of various sizes, one dichotomy continues to perplex - 'conventional IT governance' versus 'cloud-enabled updates'.
A simplified view of conventional IT governance procedure for desired changes to a system is:
  1. A User identifies a system need and logs it for the System User Group (SUG) to review;
  2. SUG community builds a list and prioritizes system needs for submitting to IT;
  3. Requirements are presented to the System Steering Team (IT SST) - that is comprised of IT or consultants as IT Surrogates;
  4. Vendor Requirements are developed by the IT SST;
  5. Vendor completes design, development, testing and deployment tasks in collaboration with the IT SST.
  6. SUG Team performs user acceptance testing
  7. Users get to use the system.
This sounds simple and intuitive enough and it passes the logic test of being, and sounding, commonsense.
Much of corporate, agency and institutional IT process embrace this procedure.
So, what's the downside?  Well, there are a few.  Each of the items in the quality triangle: Time, Cost, Quality (Fast, Cheap, Good) are adversely impacted in this arrangement.
A short discussion of these impacts and a proposed alternate approach follows.

Time, Cost and Quality Impacts of the Conventional Governance Approach

Consider the user experience.  Users discover a systemic issue.  They are told to place it on a list and prioritize it.  The System User Group (SUG) will review and decide whether it's worth escalating over other, already identified issues.  Escalated items are passed along to the IT SST, who then spend a few weeks creating appropriate requirements documents.  These are reviewed with the SUG to ensure accuracy and completeness.  More weeks pass. The Vendor has its list of items and goes to work based on the service level agreement (SLA).  In a best-case scenario, the design, development, testing takes a few more weeks. Before the changes are available to the users.  A few months have elapsed.  Users have developed and operated with Plan B, while the improvements we being created.  Time is not on their side.  The improvements may now fall short of the results that they are now obtaining with Plan B.  The requirements have changed, due to improved and increased awareness of the users. This request to completion process is too long and cumbersome to keep up with the user's real-world needs and so a spreadsheet solution is employed for Plan B.  This further erodes the system's value.  Quality is diminished.  IT SST is now presiding over a degraded system, while their costs remain elevated to maintain the procedure for other requirements.  Costs are excessive.
All three sides of the quality triangle come up short - this is not good!

Cloud-enabled Service Delivery

TeamWork Group is evolving an alternate, user-driven approach.  Our TeamWork Integrated Solutions Technology (TWIST) service is available on line.  
Users record their requests on line.  The vendor, TeamWork Group, is immediately aware of a potential shortcoming or feature request, etc. and with our central role in the TWIST cloud, can determine whether that issue is resolvable and can be a part of a solution pack that is already underway.  Time is less. The economies that this approach affords are huge! Cost is lower.  As the  - as the system is available online and in the cloud, the deployment to a test environment can be done in hours or days and the production environment can get updated in less than a week.  The chances that the user has moved-on to other approaches is lower.  Quality for the user is high.  This approach is currently employed by all app builders as well as by Microsoft when deploying new versions of the Windows OS, so it is not really unique to TeamWork Group.

What are you waiting for?  Time to head out of the woods!  We'll make it easy for you.