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An agile transformation - Stena Drilling

An agile transformation - Stena Drilling


‘People & Process’ Eat Technology for Breakfast

Digital business transformation is a diverse and widely documented topic. Thousands of books and technical papers have been written in recent years, covering both successful and failed transformations. With an abundance of literature available, many companies still struggle with the million-dollar question, ‘where to start’.

Contrary to common understanding, Digital Business Transformation is not only about technology, it is also about organisational agility. Modern businesses not only exist in a state of constant technological change but with the right organisational structure and culture are able to thrive in it. The Stena Drilling Group has always been at the forefront of cutting-edge technology. This has been reflected in the quality of the Stena Drilling’ assets, the ability to adapt to change and most importantly, Stena Drilling’s people.

Always keen to maintain a market leading position and understanding the need to embrace new and innovative ways of working, Stena Drilling decided to consolidate its digitalisation efforts. This was done to provide a clear road map and align existing digitalisation initiatives. In turn, this would allow a framework to be established from which Stena Drilling Group could further develop its digital ecosystem. The starting point for this forward-thinking approach was to recruit skills which did not already exist in the business and allow formal adoption of agile working practices.

“We adopted an Agile transformation focus in 2019. This allows the business to rapidly engage teams to meet business goals as they emerge. Recent fleet upgrades have enabled us to leverage the power of data, which in turn is swiftly transforming how we work.” - Colin Dawson - Digitalisation & Business Transformation Manager.

Many companies view Digital Business Transformation as a venture into ‘next-gen’ technology rather than an evolution of how the business interfaces with technology. Fundamentally, technology empowers humans with increased performance. This understanding is where the journey began for Stena Drilling.

In Q1 2019, following several challenging years, the digital landscape within Stena Drilling was showing signs of ageing. Whilst the company continued to perform at an operational level, it was evident that inflexible legacy systems distributed across the ecosystem would eventually start to compromise Stena Drilling’s ability to implement effective change in the required timescales. Following an internal audit and restructure, a new functional arm of the company was established called ‘Digital Business Transformation’. Digitalisation efforts were consolidated and teams eager for change were empowered with new skills to enable swift and effective change. Projects were aligned with clear business goals and connected to the wider business strategy.

“The most business value emerges when projects are aligned with clear business goals, deliver frequently & involve the collaboration of motivated and empowered people.” – Agile DSDM

By adopting the Agile DSDM philosophy, this enabled all digitalisation initiatives to be assessed independently based on their value to the strategy. This helped to filter out noisy projects or projects with limited impact. This also created the opportunity to re-evaluate the digital project management mantra and drive continuous value through Agile delivery.

There is no defined set of steps a company can take to optimise their business with technology. Each transformation is unique and should be treated as such. That said, these eight guiding principles spearheaded the success at Stena Drilling:

  • Be customer-centric, always ensure end users are on the journey with you.
  • Focus on the business need.
  • Invest in people. Up-skill & cross-train motivated individuals & teams.
  • Maximise the value of data. Data is often an under-valued asset. Look after it!
  • Do not fear failure.
  • Never compromise quality.
  • Communicate the vision clearly & regularly.
  • Demonstrate control.

The Stena Drilling Agile manifesto (similar to the music streaming company Spotify) is focused on continuous learning, simplicity, trust, servant leadership and iterative development. This is manifested inside the Stena Drilling ‘Evolve’ transformation programme.

‘Evolve - Change is good…Transformation is better’ is a transformation programme, focused on iterative value delivery. Deliveries are segmented into 6-month chunks (known as a “Supersprint”) of focused implementation. In Agile, time is fixed, cost is fixed, but what can be delivered within these two parameters is variable.

Stena Drilling has recently concluded Supersprint-2 (SS-2) which ran from March-August 2020. This was a challenging phase of activity for the organisation. Despite these challenges, significant progress was made towards the Digital Transformation strategy with 84% of objectives delivered successfully.

Supersprint-2 consisted of 33 improvement initiatives, of which 28 were successfully implemented with five projects awaiting release inside Q4 2020.

To ensure projects were aligned with business goals, projects were paired with Stena Drillings core values of Care, Innovation & Performance. This ensured project-level KPIs were aligned with business strategy.

One example of a project in the Care Tribe is an improvement initiative (A3) aimed at digitising how loose lifting equipment is tracked and managed. Starting with the business problem and working outwards, TechX graduate Intebloc were approached who had been working on their ‘Rig-Ware’ solution that could help solve the problem at hand. It is refreshing to see a technology company completely focused on listening to the customer and iteratively developing solutions to solve business problems. The project aligns with the “Safety First” business value driver, in addition to; Increase Automation & Future Enablement.

Another example, of a project came from the Performance Tribe. Data across the operations ecosystem was distributed within legacy silos. An A3 was submitted to consolidate the data into a single data platform and increase the value that can be generated from data within the ecosystem. Independent Data Services (IDS) were selected to deliver operational performance metrics to the Stena Drilling Azure data platform. This allows on and offshore teams to collaborate on a single source of truth. Further projects have now been approved to extend the scope for delivery inside Supersprint-3.

“Our Agile Transformation strategy is focused on the client first. We look to deliver value to clients through establishing trust and working collaboratively to deliver an innovative, high quality drilling service that aligns with our core values of Care, Innovation & Performance.” Eirik Reinertsen – Chief Commercial Officer Supersprint-3 (SS-3) is now underway. One project to be implemented during Supersprint- 3, is the deployment of the Eserv AS-TEG™ solution to support the Engineering team in managing laser scan data. Other SS-3 projects include, real-time BOP monitoring, energy utilisation efficiency monitoring, software upgrades to improve energy utilisation on key equipment, an improved safety observation system and many more. The customer value generated through both SS-2 & SS-3 is significant.

Fundamentally, the success of Digital Business Transformation within Stena Drilling is not only through new/innovative Digital Technologies. The key is the alignment of projects with clear business goals, empowering people, carefully selecting collaborative partners, and having the resilience to continue delivering value, even when times are tough.

Stena Drilling is one of the world's foremost independent drilling contractors, consisting of 4 ultra-deepwater drillships and 2 semi-submersible rigs. Find out more at:  www.stena-drilling.com

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Published: 09-11-2020

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