The Death of Deliverables
Since the dawning of time humans have sought to shape the world around them: To build… To improve… To reshape…
But those things are kinda hard, you know? In fact, they are almost always more than any one person can do alone (at least in a timely manner) but luckily this is where some of our greatest skills as a species come into play: Communication. Collaboration. And, perhaps most wonderous of all… Mind-numbing bureaucracy!
Mind-numbing bureaucracy? You can’t be serious?!
Ok, you got me. That last one is not particularly “wonderous”. But it is kind of ingenious. You see, when we’re doing something big there are going to be risks involved, and some of those risks are going to be invisible to us as individuals.
The good news is those individual blind spots we have can be overcome if we work together. What is unknown to us might be easily apparent to others, either as part of what they inherently know through learning and experience, or when they review what we’re proposing to do (or have already done) in concert with resources they have access to that we don’t.
To allow them to perform those reviews we need to record what’s been done, when and by whom. And then we ask them to confirm that everything looks good.
How? For most of history it’s been by putting it in writing. And the more complex and riskier the task or operation is, the more information we need to record to ensure no stone is left unturned in assessing the safety and appropriateness of what’s taking place.
And what does this have to do with deliverables?
That equals the production of lots and lots of documentation, which then needs to be copied and distributed and reviewed and amended and double-checked and re-reviewed and approved in triplicate… Those are often referred to as “deliverables” (because there’s normally some kind of requirement, either contractual or procedural, to deliver them). And the process I just described is bureaucracy in a nutshell.
But imagine there was a better way of doing it. Imagine if, instead of relying on paperwork that we were trusting to be accurate and up to date, we could see green lights in real time to tell us it was safe to proceed. Imagine if, when we began our tasks, it would warn others against beginning any other work that might have a negative impact on our own?
Those things aren’t possible with paper… But they are with a Digital Twin.
Instead of stacks and stacks of drawings, diagrams, information sheets, specifications, procedures and printed reports, you have all the information at your fingertips and updated completely in real-time.
Imagine if you had to rely on a binder full of documents to decide whether you could cross the road? That would be bad. But a green man to tell you that it’s your turn to go, and a red light to tell the traffic to stop is pretty great! Real time signalling in action!
But we need to keep records!
And why shouldn’t you? All the information you want to record can still be recorded. It could be kept forever. Heck, you could even still print it out if you wanted to, you can still use it to satisfy procedural, contractual or regulatory requirements. It’s just you no longer have to compile it all manually (a datahub like AssetHive IDH will do that for you) and you’re no longer using that paper as the primary way of recording, driving and controlling the work you do.
Instead, it’s stored securely in digital format, backed up in multiple geographic locations and available (with the right permissions) anywhere on earth, on any device. And guess what, if you use the right solution at the centre of it all, it’s much, much easier to search too! No more digging through filing cabinets to find that crucial information!
How would people adjust?!
Here’s the thing: With the right tools, there’s not one way of doing it, so the process of adjustment is really up to you. What works for you, your team and your organisation?
Sure, the obvious place to start is with a 3D representation of your asset(s) overlaid with live readings and status information (and it makes sense for that to be the centre piece, although it doesn’t have to be) but that’s just a starting point.
What “traditional deliverables” are most useful for each work group? Can we create “improved” and “interactive” version of those? For example, how about dashboards that show all the keep readings, a constantly updated audit log, a predicted performance trend for equipment in the area?
Find a solution that can adapt to what works best to different situations, one that allows your ecosystem to evolve as your project/asset matures (bringing in new software and hardware devices as needed) and is flexible enough to support configurations changes with minimal work (and as little specialised technical expertise as possible.)
The key is adjusting the tool to the people, rather than the people to the tool. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re just recreating what was there before, it’s an opportunity to see what improvements can be made too.
Sounds wonderful but I can’t see us every getting there.
You might be thinking I’m telling you that you need to throw everything out and start again (I’m not.) Or that you need to retrain all your staff (you don’t.) Or that this sounds good, but it won’t be able to easily incorporate information from other sources like your partner’s systems (it will!)
At least it will if you use a solution that integrates seamlessly in the background. The right tool is one that you can drop in and use; it powers up your existing tools rather than overpowering them – it’ll enhance what you already know and love and adapt to solutions you’ll bring in in the future. And, with the right software (such as our AssetHive Intelligent Data Hub), the people executing the work don’t need to do anything. The configuration of the IDH is performed by your IT group and all your existing IoT (“Internet of Things”) Sensors, software solutions and intelligent devices can seamlessly share information, no matter what their purpose or who supplied them. It’s a little bit like the moment you turn on Wi-Fi in your new home and suddenly all your devices can get online, with a flexible and powerful data hub like the IDH all your silos of information (different databases, devices and sensors) can exchange information in whatever format is suitable for them.
It’s a bold statement to make to say that deliverables are no longer required, but with a solution that can unify your existing technology ecosystem into a true digital twin, configurable enough to allow you to organise information the way you want it, features the flexibility to adapt and grow to different projects and project stages and works seamlessly to integrate without causing disruption, you can soon find that it’s a lot more straightforward than it seems.
No more manual compiling of reports or copy and pasting information from one place to another. Everything talks to each other, and you get a single, real-time source. Decisions powered by real time intelligence that’s visualised in a way that everyone knows what’s going on, what they’re authorised to do, and access to all the information they need to do it.
There’s a reason why news websites are more popular than newspapers – isn’t it time we took the same leap with project management?