How to Implement Multidisciplinary Work Processes in the Oil Industry: A Statoil Case

How to Implement Multidisciplinary Work Processes in the Oil Industry: A Statoil Case

Tom Rosendahl (BI Norwegian Business School, Norway), Asbjørn Egir (Astra North, Norway) and Erik Rolland (University of California, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2002-5.ch010
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Abstract

This chapter explores possibilities for using Concurrent Design at Statoil, seeking to understand how they should proceed in implementing this kind of work, and consider potential pitfalls of using this method. The authors offer ideas that can minimize the time required to implement the multi-disciplinary approach of Concurrent Design. Few companies have the requisite knowledge and skills required to implement this method effectively. Concurrent Design requires preparation and dedication to planning and implementation, along with adequate resources. It requires numerous changes in the organization’s and in the employees’ mindsets. Top management, department heads, project managers, and employees must adapt and change their work processes.
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1. Introduction

During the past few decades, organizations have increasingly focused on how to structure work (Morton et al., 2006; Ford et al., 2003; Smith et al., 1997; Flin, 1997). This has created a multitude of changes in such firms as Statoil, a major Norwegian oil and gas company, as well as across the entire petroleum industry (Sharp et al., 2001; Flin, 1997). Increasingly companies organize employees in teams and work groups, to meet challenges and to create a competitive advantage (Andres, 2002; Morton et al., 2006; Ford et al., 2003; Smith et al., 1997; Sharp et al., 2001). Statoil seeks to structure work in a way that allows the best use of employees to achieve a more advantageous international position (Reinertsen et al., 1991). Several oil companies on the Norwegian continental shelf have implemented Integrated Operations (IO) as a strategic tool to achieve safe, reliable, and efficient operations (Skarholt et al., 2009; Reinertsen et al., 1991). There are a variety of concepts describing IO, also called e-Operations and Smart Operations. IO allows for a tighter integration of offshore and onshore personnel, operator companies, and service companies, by working with real-time data from the offshore installations.

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (2004) defines IO as: “Use of information technology to change work processes to achieve improved decisions, remote control of processes and equipment, and to relocate functions and personnel to a remote installation or an onshore facility”. IO is both a technological and an organisational issue, focusing on the use of new and advanced technology as well as new work practices. According to Henriquez et al. (2007), the IO technology implementation is not considered to be a major obstacle in Statoil. The most challenging issue is to develop new work practices and change management to be able to fully explore the potential of working as a integrated company.

How technology is able to coordinate and communicate tasks within virtual teams is of great importance (Andres, 2002; Kirkman et al., 2004). The IO technology consists of high-quality video conferencing, shared work spaces and data sharing facilities (Skarholt et al., 2009). These arenas include collaboration rooms for rapid responses and decision-making. They are designed with video walls to share information and involve people in discussions, having eye contact with each other both onshore and offshore (Kirkman et al., 2004). IO technology is characterized by vividness and interactivity. According to Steuer (1992), vividness is the ability of a telecommunications medium to produce a rich environment for the senses, which means having a range of sensory input (i.e. voice, video and eye contact), as well as depth of information bandwidth. In their study, Skarholt et al. (2009:821) found “that the use of collaboration rooms creates the sense of being present in a place different from one’s physical location”, a sense of “being there”. The integration of people, work processes and even vendors is a high priority and a key success factor for major oil operators as well as operating service companies to succeed using IO principles (Hepsø, 2006).

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