Self-Service BPM as the Path to Digital Transformation



Digital transformation was a top priority for Akash Khurana when he took over as CIO for McDermott, an oil and gas infrastructure company with revenues of nearly $3 billion. With more than 6,500 employees, it wasn’t something they could tackle all at once. Khurana and his team decided to approach digital transformation one phase at a time.

Once you take steps towards digitization, change management across the organization becomes much easier,” said Khurana. “People feel part of the transformation. They see the benefits of the initiatives you are running, and are much keener to get involved.

The previous CIO had adopted a best-in-class approach when it came to application management. While there were clear benefits, it also meant that McDermott was running scores of applications at the same time, often with overlapping features and varying levels of accessibility and ability to integrate.

Start With Collaboration

The first area McDermott approached for digital transformation was the way they communicated and shared files. Collaboration happened in multiple places, and they wanted to create a unified platform that could bring everyone to the same place.

McDermott’s internal IT team was able to unite several different messaging, voice, video, note-taking, and storage systems. The end product was a single platform that allowed all users to connect on their work and share data with each other easily.

While successful, this implementation took a lot of backend work from the internal IT and Global Application Management teams, and added significantly to their workload.

An Overwhelming Automation Need

The next area for digital transformation came more out of necessity. The six-member IT team had received a large number of requests for fairly simple process automation applications. Most of them came from supply chain and finance. Renee Villarreal, Senior Manager of Global Application Management and Support said, “We came up with close to 50 backlogged workflow requests from just these two functions.”

The team knew they would never be able to build all of the applications within a reasonable time frame, especially when updates and maintenance were considered. The previous best-in-class approach also meant a lot of manual data transfers and working on multiple systems.

They first tried using a tool that specialized in workflow creation based on their existing technology platforms. The IT team wanted users to create their own workflows, but because of the complexity and limitations of the tool, most business users would only be able to create 10% of the workflows. For all the others, they would have to use standard ‘waterfall’ development methodology, which wouldn’t be able to deliver on time.

Finding a Self-Service BPM Solution

The IT team then focused its search on self-service business process management platforms. They wanted something that business leaders could use to create, manage, and edit their own automated processes with. Villarreal said, “The watermark was, ‘I don’t need to call IT to do this. I can do it myself.’”

To make it as easy as possible, McDermott only considered tools that were no-code. “As soon as our business leads saw any kind of coding, they just shut down–they were not interested,” said Villarreal.

By picking a no-code business process management option, the McDermott IT team wanted to make automating processes a self-service function. Business leaders should be able to use a simple platform to create and manage their own processes with little to no help from IT.

The first process on the new platform was a capital expenditure workflow that required a lot of manual work previously. The finance team had a quick briefing on the new tool and then created the process on their own. Other users of the system found it intuitive enough that they didn’t need any extensive training.

Expanding Usage

Within six months of piloting the self-service BPM platform, McDermott quickly found a lot of benefits:

  • Processes ranging from simple to complex were being automated with relative ease by business leaders
  • IT backlog had begun to reduce, without the need for any additional effort
  • Support was handled by the business leads or the vendor
  • Other business leads wanted to automate their core processes as well

The IT team then rolled out the platform for more than 6,000 users and multiple regions around the world. In the first year, users successfully processed 23,000 items, saving a massive amount of time and effort from everyone.

By creating an infrastructure to manage their own processes, a self-service BPM platform has given McDermott a huge push into digital transformation. Not only are their core processes digitized, they also get key statistics and analytics.

Reflecting on their digital transformation journey, Khurana said, “Technology underpins the transformation, which is best viewed as a digital foundation.” McDermott will continue to push towards bringing more of its core data and processes into the digital fold as it expands its efforts.