Statoil’s ‘Book,’ ARIS and BPM

Statoil’s ‘capital value process’ selects the best projects. The Statoil ‘Book,’ plus Software AG’s Aris Express methodology, used to map and execute corporate work programs.

Speaking at the IRM-UK conference on enterprise architecture and business process management (EA/BPM) last month, Statoil’s Torbjørn Stølan and Nick Cherrie presented a case study on the use of the Aris methodology to map and organize Statoil’s cross discipline work processes. Aris stands for the architecture of integrated information systems, a means of modeling and improving enterprise work processes.

A tenet of the EA/BPM movement is that it is not (just) about IT. As another speaker put it, ‘An enterprise has an architecture, even if it doesn’t have electricity1.’ Statoil uses Aris to understand and communicate the complex interactions that take place during activities such as acreage evaluation, drilling, geophysical data acquisition and more. Just about every activity that the $90 billion, 20,000 employees company is involved in.

The starting point for the case study was the Statoil ‘Book,’ a 75 page top level outline of the key policies and requirements for the whole group. The book is the foundation of Statoil’s business, setting standards for behavior, leadership and what is expected of its employees. Statoil uses a ‘capital value process’ (CVP) to identify and execute projects—moving through a series of stage gates from a business opportunity to ‘the most profitable operation for the total value chain.’

Drilling down from these top level requirements, the Aris case study leveraged Software AG’s Aris Express to capture the CVP processes in terms of technical requirements, best practices and resources required. A process requirements document defines the CVP and sets out the requirements for moving through a decision gate or approval point.

First attempts to use business processes modeling met with reticence as staff saw work processes as bureaucratic, causing people to stop thinking, and stifling creativity. The ‘box ticking’ approach was also perceived as slowing down work and decision making. It proved hard to capture the iterative, non-linear work processes used in the upstream. The Aris practitioners decided to keep things simple, proposing instead an outline, non mandatory sequence of events.

The approach proved successful in making team members aware of their own and others’ roles in the overall process and in revealing skills gaps. Work processes help plan and perform everyday tasks and improve individuals’ awareness of their roles and required documentation. More from IRM-UK and Software AG.

1 Colm Butler, Open Group IT Architecture Practitioners conference 2005.

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