Executive Summary / Abstract
During 1999, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) Submarine Support Integrated Project Team (SubIPT) was faced with the issue of the cost of submarine ownership and in partnership with Babcock (then DML) set out to realize significant programme savings during HMS Vanguard’s 1st Long Overhaul Period Refuel (LOP(R)). One of several steps in achieving this objective was to establish a joint initiative between Babcock, SubIPT (MoD) and its chosen technology partner, LSC Group, to transform the business using workflow technology. To support this approach a Collaborative Working Environment (CWE) was developed by LSC Group to improve collaboration and communication between all stakeholders involved in the submarine refit across the UK. To transform the business the latest workflow technology was adopted to replace paper-based business processes and to enable much greater process integration with existing MoD and industry systems, thereby enabling efficiency and cost reduction.
Driven by a suite of bespoke and commercial off the shelf (COTS) applications, including a custom-built business process automation (workflow) solution from TIBCO, the CWE has delivered a trusted secure web-based workspace, enabling members from disparate organizations to work together and share information within a single secure environment. Its prime users consist of all submarine MoD departments and the major Tier 1 industry partners in Naval Defence, including Babcock, Rolls Royce and BAE Systems. TIBCO’s workflow component allows automation of business processes, integration with existing applications across MoD and industry boundaries, to replace inefficient and sometimes out of date paper-based processes. The newly automated business processes have resulted in time and cost savings, which have directly contributed to the MoD and Babcock achieving its goal to reduce the cost of submarine ownership, de-risk the LOP(R) programme and to achieve positive share line contract performance.
Initiated in 1999, the purpose of the CWE has been to improve collaboration and communication between all stakeholders – both MoD and industry – in the submarine refit programme in order to de-risk the LOP(R) programme, and to ensure the submarines availability whilst driving down refit costs. The workflow solution component of the CWE has fully automated business processes that were previously done manually whilst integrating with existing MoD and industry systems to drive out non value added tasks improving efficiency, quality and safety.
Benefits of the workflow solution include:
- The ability to capture and automate business processes and much greater flexibility and lower costs to enable continuous improvement
- Significant reduction of non value added tasks, administrative effort and reduction of posts
- Greater governance over the business process and improved quality and safety.
- Closer MoD and industry relationships as a result of the transformation project and the stakeholder workshop sessions held throughout the project so far
- The ability to expand incrementally the workflow technology to transform twelve business process applications. (SCIs, surveys, concessions, DRS, IPCs, change requests, A&As, engineering helpdesk, VOs, minor trials, worked out concessions, DA review concessions)
- Greater visibility of the end-to-end process with step-by-step measurement, enabling identification and resolution of bottlenecks.
- Removal of rework costs of re-raising lost items (CWE automated processes replaced original paper based processes)
- Creation of a Submarine Enterprise Information and Knowledge repository
- Removal of paper processes and storage facilities that need to be maintained
The CWE and workflow solution also have great potential to be scaled to include other areas of the business. The initial deployment was 80 CWE seats and is now approaching 3500 users as other Maritime and Equipment programmes are added.
The main challenges relating to the workflow element of the CWE were around analysis and governance.
The initial project definition study identified enterprise business process constraints and proposed improvements that would return quick wins in reducing cost, improving quality and giving greater efficiency. Issues to overcome included stakeholders with their own processes, systems and applications, which needed to be integrated at different stages of the business process lifecycle. Cultural differences and resistance to change had to be delicately addressed and facilitated to develop coherent processes and more efficient and effective communication.
In order to ensure compliance with the nuclear safety case and the business process rules, the workflow technology had to provide a full audit trail that could prove which Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel (SQEP) resources had undertaken the decisions throughout the business process and had a historical log of the details. Introduction of a governance structure to enable endorsement and prioritisation of resources was fundamental in our ability to rapidly transform the business and realise business benefits.
During 1999 both MoD and industry relied heavily on conventional paper-based systems at a time when team sizes could not be maintained and where the volume of paper for HMS Vanguard’s LOP(R) could not be contained within the programme. These issues were a strong motivation to change and due to the additional demands of driving down the cost of submarine ownership, this provided an ideal climate for change.
The driving motivation of the CWE was its people and their ability to harness the power of workflow technology to enable inefficiencies and risk to be reduced and managed and to facilitate a reduction in costs. Workflow technology provided a new innovative tool to address some of the following long standing issues:
- How to manage an increasing workload with decreasing resources
- How to improve the decision making turnaround timescales without the loss of quality whilst de-risking the LOP(R) programme
- Failure to ensure adherence to the business process
- The inefficiencies of managing paper and the long term storage costs
- How to improve quality and safety
The Key Innovations
There are many different stakeholders involved in a submarine refit, from large engineering companies through to smaller more specialist partners. As a result of the ongoing transformation we have established much closer enterprise working relationships and a greater spirit of openness and sharing.
The processes involved in the submarine refit programme are now automated and fully integrated with MoD and industry systems. This has removed significant non value added time and has embedded knowledge into the workflow systems so that key stakeholders can focus their attention on decision making. Stakeholders are now simply required to complete their task when it arrives in their actions list and the system will decide what happens next i.e. who/which process is next in line.
The CWE means all stakeholders have access to exactly the same information and has enabled a culture of collaboration and sharing to be realized. Introduction of workflow and electronic approvals was a first for the submarine enterprise and has ensured a much greater level of control and safety.
SubIPT, Babcock and LSC Group have worked in partnership to continuously improve the CWE to meet evolving user requirements, using our innovative technical and domain experts. Workflow has enabled the submarine enterprise to manage a much higher level of volume with much smaller teams which would not have been achievable under the paper-based processes.
Turnaround timescales were important to the submarine enterprise and workflow has delivered between 70 and 80 percent improvement in turnaround timescales. This has significantly de-risked the LOP(R) programme.
Processes for incorporation into the CWE are identified by the user community on a priority basis. As has been described elsewhere, the process begins with a series of workshops to identify the optimum process flow to be developed, and the identification of existing applications which need to form part of the process as either a feeder or receiver (or both) of data.
Click for Larger Image
Developed processes can vary considerably in their complexity and volume. Key steps within the processes vary from 2 to 24 with many of these steps being important, often safety-critical, approval steps.
The schematic provides a simplified view of one of the 21 processes now in use within the CWE. It reflects the action of carrying out a ‘Survey’ of a submarine which is an activity used to assess the state of the vessel before deciding on what work needs carrying out. As can be seen, the survey process is instigated by data feeds from four other applications used by various stakeholders in the overall management and maintenance of the submarine, follows a process of data capture, assessment and various approvals, and finishes by updating appropriate source applications with the results and approvals.
While a specific refit or maintenance period on a submarine is usually the catalyst for the development of a process, over time this process is then often adapted for use on other types of submarine, or for different types of maintenance. While similar in activity, many factors mean that these process instances are different, and one of the benefits of having developed the process within the iProcess Suite is that new variances of the process can be delivered with minimal effort while maximizing reuse of the work already carried out.
The move from a paper-based system to automated workflow has had a positive impact on both MoD and industry staff. They are no longer burdened with inefficient paper processes, as workflow has enabled them to manage more with less resources, whilst providing improved quality and safety.
The lessons learned and knowledge and experience gained in the CWE have enabled the wider deployment of variants of the CWE across the defence sector, resulting in a greater return on investment.
The CWE is now widely used by a growing number of UK Defence Sector communities (currently approaching 3,500 users among the maritime user-base including MoD project teams, naval bases, platforms and industrial contractors) and more recently abroad by the Babcock led Canadian Submarine Management Group (CSMG). Driven by business needs, the CWE is continually improving its functionality and capability, and is now being applied to new design and build programmes, such as the Successor Trident replacement programme.
Issues to overcome included stakeholders with their own processes, systems and applications, which needed to be integrated at different stages of the business process lifecycle. Cultural differences and resistance to change had to be delicately addressed and facilitated to develop coherent processes and more efficient and effective communication.
Introduction of a governance structure to enable endorsement and prioritisation of resources was fundamental in our ability to rapidly transform the business and realise business benefits.
We were very keen that the new workflow processes be seen as business driven and not as an IT project. This enabled a much greater level of buy in from the stakeholders as they took ownership and pride in what was produced.
Stakeholder analysis was key in order to identify key individuals who may either be blockers or supporters of business change. By targeting these individuals we were able to achieve much greater ‘buy in’ of the final solution and embed change management thinking as part of normal business.
Education was an important factor in the acceptance of the automated workflow solution by staff, especially those at a lower level. A major flaw of the previous paper-based system allowed users to ignore parts of a particular process that may not have suited them but had an important purpose i.e. safety or financial implication. The workflow solution applies governance and rules that prevent this from happening. Education was also key to helping users understand the importance of these processes and why they are in place, rather than just training in the software application.
The Collaborative Working Environment (CWE) has been operating across the Submarine Support Environment (SSE) for over 10 years. A study of the impact of the CWE on the timeliness and quality of the submarine refits over a five-year period identified a range of benefits that can be directly attributed to the deployment of the CWE. Where a realistic and relevant baseline of current activity costs was available, it was possible to quantify the associated benefit after CWE implementation; however, where such baselines could not be established, the acknowledged but unquantifiable benefits were not claimed. Whilst the CWE benefits, both quantitative and qualitative, were specifically identified across a five-year period, it is widely recognised that they are enduring and have been increasingly adopted by other maritime engineering programmes, contributing towards an ongoing cheaper and more efficient maritime refit programme.
Based on the findings of Babcock’s Marine Division the SSE identified quantitative benefits amounting to £7.8M over a 5 year period, accruing from two main areas:
- Cash savings of approximately £5M resulting from:
- An up-front reduction in contract costs to the MoD for two refits based on the confidence that the refits would be delivered in a more efficient and effective manner. This totalled £2.1M.
- A reduction in administrative and no-longer relevant process activities resulting from the introduction of automated business processes. These savings amounted to £2.4M.
- Efficiency savings associated with the improved method of delivery of one specific business process – reporting and approval of engineering concessions. This realised over £400K of direct savings to the customer over the five-year period.
- Opportunity cost savings of £2.8M achieved through the diversion of staff from non-value adding activities incorporated into automated business processes. (This included the time and material costs associated with the mundane task of photocopying and handling of thousands of hard copy documents).
- Another class of submarine, namely the Astute, avoided the cost of developing its own through life support solution by adopting the submarine enterprise approach, saving many millions on a new IT solution.
- The CWE and workflow continues to provide a 2:1 return on investment.
Overall process times have been significantly reduced with an 80 percent improvement in turnaround timescales (See graph below – the graph shows the gradual improvement in turnaround times for a key process automated as part of the Vanguard Submarine refit).
- Workflow has allowed twelve key business processes to be quickly re-engineered across the MoD/industry boundary without the need to customise expensive IT systems
- The CWE has allowed quick identification of process bottlenecks that would impact platform delivery.
- Reduction of overall submarine refit time
The major qualitative benefit to emerge is the forging of a true enterprise culture across the major stakeholders engaged in the refit of submarines. The adoption of business process automation to capture end-to-end processes that span the traditional customer/supplier contractual boundaries helped to establish enterprise-wide working relationships. Working as key players in a single process brought the stakeholders together to discuss problems and to work together to reach mutually acceptable solutions that addressed each other’s needs. Other qualitative benefits that emerged as a result of this collaborative culture were:
Adoption of an optimised and standardised approach to engineering processes across Devonport Dockyard, with the intention of rollin these out to Faslane Dockyard.
- The capture, automation and mandating of agreed processes that incorporate local business rules, authorisations and delegated powers.
- Faster process turnaround timescales with fully metricated and auditable process performance, enabling the identification and correction of process bottlenecks.
- Provided access to new sources of information and exploitation of legacy databases and information sources
- Reduced information search costs
- Improved information and knowledge management
Two processes in the refit programme that significantly improved were the ‘specification change enquiry’ (SCI) and ‘concessions approval’. For SCI, the cycle time was reduced from 125 days to 28 days, process steps and cost were reduced, with improved reporting and safety. The cycle time for concessions approval was reduced from 186 days to 21 on average. Process steps and cost were reduced and decision making and material state management improved.
Best Practices, Learning Points and Pitfalls
Best Practices and Learning Points
- IT training was not enough. LSC Group used Babcock and MoD business experts to win ‘hearts & minds’ by providing process training and on the ground support
- Acknowledging the real-life process helped users to understand the importance of the businesses processes and why they are in place
- Lots of minor tweaks to the CWE provided real benefit and increased buy in/credibility. For this, a fund for continuous improvement is required as well as a business-led board to initiate and support change
- A 90 day programme for incremental changes allowed the business culture to improve and become more proactive
- Taking each improvement opportunity to progressively build an integrated solution has led to a stronger CWE
Our approach to continuous involvement in the CWE in order to continually improve, change and enhance the solution is a major USP and a part of its immediate and long-term strategy to sustain competitive advantage. The CWE’s focus on the workflow component and its ability to bring disparate stakeholders together are other key competitive advantages. It also has the ability to reengineer processes, meaning that once stakeholders have decided on what is the correct process, it can be reengineered or ‘leaned’ to improve it further and bring further business benefits i.e. further cost and time savings. Hosting of the CWE within the MoD environment at restricted and secret level means that both MoD and Industry can share the tool. Similar competitive solutions to the CWE haven’t addressed the workflow/business process management element. The CWE addresses complex engineering processes, which is a distinct USP in the selling environment.
TIBCO’s iProcess™ Suite is a comprehensive customised business process management suite that enables enterprises to automate, manage and improve their business processes to maximize operational efficiency and effectiveness.
iProcess Suite provides a complete end-to-end process management solution for all parts of the business process lifecycle – from process modelling, automation of people and system activities, visibility into running process, and optimization. It is simple enough that companies can start with a single departmental process and powerful enough to scale to hundreds of processes across an enterprise.
Its benefits include:
- Improved operational management and decision making by providing business managers with insight into process performance and the ability to compare current results to historical data and required levels of performance.
- Improved business agility by enabling the rapid adaptation of processes in response to changing conditions.
- Reduced operating costs by automating time-consuming and error-prone manual tasks.
- Improved productivity by giving business users the information and direction they need to do their jobs most effectively.
- Enables continuous process improvement based on actual process behaviour to maximize operational effectiveness and efficiency.
- Fosters business and IT collaboration. Business experts model the process and IT staff then implement the process leveraging the enterprise’s IT infrastructure.
LSC Group considers the TIBCO workflow the heartbeat of the CWE solution. The workflow element gives them competitive advantage and a key reason that TIBCO was chosen over other BPM technology providers is because of its scalability and ability to roll out to other areas of the business, beyond submarines.
The Technology and Service Providers
MOD is both a policy-making Department of State - like any other central government department - as well as being the highest level military headquarters in the UK, providing political control of all military operations. It controls resources for the Armed Forces of some £30 billion per year. Within and across the MOD, military and civilian personnel work closely together to deliver Britain's defence. Its headquarters are in Whitehall, London.
LSC Group is a solutions, services and management consulting company, dedicated to the delivery of efficient and effective services to meet the business transformation challenges of today and tomorrow. LSC Group is a subsidiary of Babcock International.
Babcock is an engineering support services organisation, operating in the defence, energy, telecommunications, transport and education sectors. Babcock International is the parent company of LSC Group.
TIBCO's infrastructure software gives customers the ability to constantly innovate by connecting applications and data in a service-oriented architecture, streamlining activities through business process management, and giving people the information and intelligence tools they need to make faster and smarter decisions.
In addition to TIBCO’s bespoke business process automation (workflow) solution, the CWE comprises the following COTS solutions from third-party vendors:
- A portal, including collaboration tools
- A database
- A project vault (document management)
- Business intelligence (business tools and applications)
© Copyright: This case study was originally published in the Excellence in Practice series in the book entitled “Delivering BPM Excellence”
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