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Why Investing in Technology
Is Good Business

 

05/19/2021

56 Min Watch Time

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Andrew Harris:

All right, so welcome everybody. My name is Andrew Harris, I’m the VP of sales for Asia Pacific for InEight. And I consider myself to be really, really fortunate in this role. I get the opportunity to work with so many amazing people in our organization, but also in our customers organizations as well.

Andrew Harris:

It’s a really exciting industry that we are all a part of, and it’s great to be able to witness the impact that technology can have on our customers and as a leader of people on our own teams as well.

Andrew Harris:

We’ve got a lot of great panel members today, but I just want to take you through a little bit of housekeeping. So ensue that you’re saying hello to us in the chat window that you’ll see. Rose has already put a little welcome to everyone in there. Please feel free to ensure that you’re asking questions throughout. We’ve got a bunch of questions that we’ve pre-developed for this session, but we’ll also be looking at the live questions as well.

Andrew Harris:

Any that we don’t get to today, we will certainly endeavor to come back to each of you who have asked those questions.

Andrew Harris:

And lastly but not least, sit back, relax, and enjoy. And make sure that you can provide us as much feedback as you can throughout the session.

Andrew Harris:

So, who have we got with us today? We’re really excited to have a gentleman by the name of Phil Jones, who is the Project Director for D4C, delivering for customers who are running a 10 year program of work with Sydney Water, welcome Phil. And Phil will tell you a little bit more about his role and himself in a minute.

Andrew Harris:

We also have Elsa Yin who is the Energy Business Services Leader for Energy Australia. Part of a dynamic industry that’s undergoing an enormous amount of change which is providing great opportunity, and Elsa will tell us a little bit about her background in a moment.

Andrew Harris:

And Ian Watt, Regional Sales Director for InEight. I’m very fortunate to be working alongside Ian servicing some of our great customers in the region, so welcome. Welcome to you all.

Andrew Harris:

So, Phil we might just start with you to tell the group a little bit about yourself and your background.

Phil Jones:

Yeah, so I’m Phil Jones. I’m Project Director for Driven 4 Customers, which we have a 10 year contract with Sydney Water to deliver maintenance, FM, and project delivery across their southern region. We’re a joint venture between Lendlease, John Holland, and WSP. And we’ve just started our program, we began about 18 months, and working through this journey of enhancing or adding value through IT and software systems.

Phil Jones:

A bit of my background, I’ve run these integrated contracts across a number of industries. Both in Australia and in the UK. I’ve used technology over that period of time to try and enhance the service deliver to the client, but also the customer, the end user, whatever that service might be.

Andrew Harris:

Fantastic, Phil. Thanks. Great to have you on. Elsa?

Elsa Yin:

Thanks Andrew. Afternoon everybody I currently head up the Project Services Team within Energy Australia. I’ve had about 25 years’ experience in projects, all different types of projects. Transformation, technology, and of course most recently the construction projects.

Elsa Yin:

Really exciting time in the energy sector at the moment. So, with the new agenda and the renewable transformation, it was just announced the funding of the Tallawarra B Gas Turbine Project and the technology that we’re choosing.

Andrew Harris:

Fantastic, welcome Elsa. And such a dynamic time in your sector. It’s exciting to be on a bit of a journey with you guys. And Ian, for yourself mate?

Ian Watt:

Hi everybody. My name’s Ian Watt and I work for InEight. I’ve been here for probably seven years or a bit more. Being in the project control space for, well let’s say decades. Through that time, I’ve been helping organizations adopt technology in one way or another, to prove their business outcomes and their business performance. So, very pleased to be spending time with everyone this afternoon.

Andrew Harris:

Fantastic. Thanks Ian. So, to kick us off guys I think what’s been really prevalent in McKinsey and other organizations have reported bidding the capital project sector and construction space, that technology’s been a bit of a lag in that space. Agriculture seem to have the jump on all the global reports around technology adoption within the sector. And I think sometimes that’s a bit unfair when we’ve got people like yourselves who have such a dynamic and engaging approach to the adoption of technology and the value that it can bring.

Andrew Harris:

So, I want to kick us off with a bit of a poll, and to the audience you’ll be able to click a voting button on the screen. So, really over to the panel while we run the poll, could we actually be doing more to invest in technology and create even greater value than we do today? So, Phil I’ll let you lead off and then maybe get some more response from Elsa and Ian as the poll runs.

Phil Jones:

Yeah, I think certainly, we certainly can be invested more in technology to get greater value. We’ve started our program off 10 year journey, I made a huge investment in technology to try and start that journey on the basis that if we get to 10 years, whatever we invest in now will be very much out of date. But it’s important that you continue to invest over time and continue to keep those systems, or processes, or whatever technology you’re using up-to-date to ensure that you keep up with the times. Our people will demand that we continue to invest in technology and up-to-date.

Phil Jones:

Certainly the younger generations we bring into our teams, and our clients, and our customers expect to be able to be ahead of technology and use what they need to make sure they getting the service they desire.

Andrew Harris:

And really interesting that the customer demands are really starting to drive some of that change. And then if you look at the youth coming through, from an education perspective there’s a really interesting surge in that space.

Andrew Harris:

Elsa, how’s that impacting life at Energy Australia for you guys?

Elsa Yin:

Yeah, I think technology certainly really important. I think we all get so busy delivering what we need to deliver, and forget about things that could make our lives so much easier. So, I think it’s really important to take stock and look at how far technology has come to actually help us with delivery. So I think yeah, definitely worthwhile.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, indeed. Yeah. Fantastic. And Ian, from your life of connecting with multiple customers on a  basis, what about the investment in technology? Whether it’s in the capital project sector or in our own world, in the sales organization.

Ian Watt:

The benefit of technology goes back to the industrial revolution, the building of the pyramids. There’s no doubt that innovation and the adoption of technology improves society. And so, there’s no reason why we should stop that trajectory and in fact the more, to me, the more investment that you make in new adaptive technologies, it pays disproportionate dividends. And there’s multiple studies that demonstrate that. And that’s certainly what we’re seeing amongst our customers and what I’m seeing across the industry.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, fantastic. And I think it’s been an overwhelming yes, we had just over half our participants register in the survey and everyone said, “Absolutely, we could continue to invest more in technology to create it in greater value,” so I think everyone’s on the same page, which is always good to see. And probably as expected, I don’t think anyone wants to go backwards that’s for sure.

Andrew Harris:

So, to sort of draw that out a little bit and probably explore a little bit further, might start with yourself again Phil. What does technology mean for D4C and how has that been leveraged to deliver greater performance across your programs of work?

Phil Jones:

So, we’ve taken a decisive approach in terms of technology, to really look at enabling our people through technology. So, we’ve been in a very fortunate position, we’re about 350 people strong today and we’ll be 500 people at Christmas in this contract that we’ve got for Sydney Water.

Phil Jones:

We have the luxury where we have 350 to 500 people over the last 18 months, and they’ve all been picked because of their capabilities. And we want technology to be able to support them rather than having to do what they need to do to make the technology give the answer, if that’s what makes sense.

Phil Jones:

So, it’s about helping them, enabling those people to do what we need to do. And we’ve done that through a number of different ways. Rather than just picking one technology solution, we’ve actually picked a whole raft of stuff that’s best for process or best for the business, and built it up together, and allowed that to work together to really give us some value.

Phil Jones:

As I said before, we know that our people, the new people into our business expect technology to be there. They expect people to be able to do their job on a mobile phone or a tablet, in an engaged way that’s not them just doing something because the system says they have to do it, they do it because they want to see it adds value to their delivery on their job everyday. [crosstalk 00:25:04] streamlining their work, their way of working.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, yeah exactly. Streamlining and adding value I think is a key takeaway there. And Elsa, I know when we were talking over the last few days that really looking at how technology helps to support delivery excellence for Energy Australia. So, maybe you can tell us a little bit about that.

Elsa Yin:

Yeah, deliver excellence is obviously very important for our project. Delivering what we set out we would do. And I guess what comes with that is the one-on-one’s with project management. We’ve got two distinct groups of people in Energy Australia major projects. One group, major projects professionals, so these are project managers that are project manager by profession and they do this everyday. And we’ve got another group of users who are site based. They are foremost engineers and second, project managers.

Elsa Yin:

So, what we’re looking for is something that’s actually really easy for everybody and add value. Because people are so busy doing their day job they don’t really have time to learn a new tool or try to project something on different Excel spreadsheets, different tools, different ERP systems. It just becomes a massive overhead and we lose sight of what’s important, which is to deliver the project really.

Elsa Yin:

So, what we’re looking for, and we’re on a journey here with InEight is to look for a tool that can provide us the consistency, early warning signs, and just make delivering projects a lot easier for people, and that people will use it because it’s easy.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, and it’s easy to use, but then you’re obviously talking about just accessibility to information and driving consistency throughout the organization, across so many different touch points. And Phil, just circling back to you quickly, delivering for customers is effectively a startup. 350 people in 18 months and going to 500 within two years of inception, so faced with that and being able to contain that and encourage that is obviously a great focus.

Phil Jones:

Absolutely. And I’m not creating work for people just for sake of it, it’s allowing people on the coalface front lines to actually do their job and using tools that support them to do their job. I mean, using that as information, the data information, so we can actually learn and be more intelligent about what we do.

Phil Jones:

It’s about supporting everyone across the business with what’s… Across their roles, so it can support the business more centrally.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, fantastic and Ian

Ian Watt:

This has brought a thought to my mind, in our day-to-day life we thought that 18 months ago we were really, really busy and we were really, really effective and we were 100% working all day everyday. Who knew that we have 10 or 15% performance lying dormant in us.

Ian Watt:

But now the use of Teams and not having to run from one building to another, or one city to another. To find a meting room to… All that time in between, and now we’re going from one meeting, to another meeting, to another meeting. This is a good example of the use of that technology. Whether it be Teams or WebEx or any of those other platforms, the way that we’ve now had to adapt to the new way of working by way of leveraging technology, has extracted, I reckon it’s 10 or 15% of productivity that we had lurking, trapped within us and we’ve now brought that to bear.

Ian Watt:

We never knew that that productivity was there lying dormant, but technology has brought that out in us. And that’s an example that I found in my daily life. And it’s been very valuable.

Andrew Harris:

And I think part of our collective roles is being able to enable our teams, and connect our people to not only each other but to the information that they need access to to do their day jobs. I think with that Ian, there’s a sense of expectation that now comes with that. In my experience, access to great new technology creates a new normal and the expectations continue to lift.

Andrew Harris:

Maybe I’ll start again, starting with you Phil on this one around expectations of technology and how you’ve seen that change over the recent years and maybe how you see it continue to change.

Phil Jones:

Yeah. I certainly see the massive difference of change. A couple of points on this one, one is we’ve just fitted our new office for our team, as a head office for our contract. That’s probably the start of the program, and we didn’t do that until January this year, so we had went through COVID with people mobilizing, starting the contract working from home.

Phil Jones:

But we had to change the way we designed that office, and we did that just about six weeks before due to start to allow this new normal as Ian talked about, in terms of the new way of working. Because a traditional office space, you can still make it work, but it’s very hard to make that into this technology enabled world work.

Phil Jones:

We’ve then also worked with Sydney Water and put together a 10 year maturity journey map around digital. Digital engineering as they call it, it’s about using technology. And that’s really about saying in 10 years time, an engineer, supervisor, crew, on the ground will not want a paper drawing given to them which tells them how to build a job. They will absolutely demand, it’s that generation that 3-D model they can get around and play with it, they can take their measurements, do what they want on an iPad or a tablet, or whatever it is on the field.

Phil Jones:

So, we’ve looked at that 10 year journey across all of our technology platforms to say, “How do we go from today to make the technology get there?” But actually change the culture of people. Because the biggest challenge with all of us is the change management process in terms of people, so that they can actually adopt our system, make it work at that point in time and actually get value from that.

Phil Jones:

And that change management piece is probably a bigger piece than the systems piece. Industries are well ahead of us in terms of taking up technology. It’s how we change the mindset of our people and work with them to get to that stage. Bringing in the younger generations, they tend to be more forward thinking in this space and more demanding in that space. But bringing along the rest of the workforce who have the skills and the experience to make sure we can still deliver great product, but more efficiently and more effectively.

Andrew Harris:

Absolutely, and I think it’s about trusting in the technology as well. I think as everyone’s sort of a little bit resistant to change and being able to trust what that new technology will deliver for you, because you’re the one that’s still accountable for the outcome at the end of the day.

Phil Jones:

Of course.

Andrew Harris:

So, I’d like to refer to you as well Elsa, because I know with Energy Australia, in such a dynamically changing as an energy generator as one part of your business versus the retail arm. The huge change coming through the energy sector, in your experience what is that expectation on technology mean to you guys?

Elsa Yin:

Well I guess with more work going on and with major projects being funded, it’s really important that we do things in a consistent way so that we can actually leverage each project as we go. So, by being able to harness each of the in-flight projects and look at how we can improve, the insights is really important. So, it’s about unlocking what could be quite disparate. You know, two, three years ago to, “How can we keep on improving going forward?” So, that’s one of the things that’s really important to us.

Elsa Yin:

And also, allowing the visibility. So, the visibility of how the project is progressing, what major challenges we have. All the way from a junior engineer to the sponsor, they should all be able to see all this information really clearly so that people can make decisive action about what needs to be done.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, absolutely. And it’s really encouraging to be able to see what’s possible as well, which is great. And I think that future state is going to hold us in good stead. Ian, thinking about the same thing from what you see in market, but even in your role, having access to information and pulling together disparate information to make decisions and prioritize? I think you put yourself on mute.

Ian Watt:

Sorry, puppy dogs were barking. Home office problems.

Andrew Harris:

One of the technologies of working from home is having the dog at home.

Ian Watt:

Absolutely, my apologies. So, what we’re seeing now today is the ability to leverage connected information. In the past you had great systems, and disparagingly they call them point solutions, but you used to have technologies that were fit for purpose for an individual purpose.

Ian Watt:

Now what we’ve got the opportunity to do is connect that information in a point in time and turn it into almost a heads up display. And what that brings with it, if you trust those connections, and if those connections are trustworthy, it gives you the opportunity to manage by exception rather than furiously managing everything you can now trust the system. And that sounds a bit scary, I know, that’s a change management scenario.

Ian Watt:

But if you can then trust the system like the system or 3380 plane, remember them? We used to fly on them. They get a warning, if one of 10,000 sensors on the plane goes out. Well that’s where we are now in our capability with the capital projects world. And I think that the ability to now trust in the technology is something that we’re going to have to now adapt to and leverage.

Elsa Yin:

Ian, I just wanted to comment on the trust component with technology. And another example that I may use is the driverless car. So that’s-

Ian Watt:

Yes!

Elsa Yin:

Definitely-

Ian Watt:

I’m never getting one. Never, ever, ever, ever.

Elsa Yin:

And it just showcases technology is there and it’s happening, it’s changing all the time.

Ian Watt:

It is.

Elsa Yin:

But it’s about building that trust so that we can jump in there and our lives will be so much easier once we trust it.

Ian Watt:

It’s a great example, but I’m never going to trust it. Driverless cars are up there with jumping out of a plane or going diving with sharks, no chance.

Andrew Harris:

You might be stuck at home in the future, Ian.

Ian Watt:

I guess I might. But then at least I’ll have my friends to deliver me pizzas.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, very true. So true. And look a lot of the conversation at the moment’s been around sort of change management, which is really around people. I know Elsa, from yourself that people process tool/solution is a constant thought for yourself. Can you tell us a little bit more about your approach in that space?

Elsa Yin:

Yeah, so I think it’s a really important triangle, in that we have the people processing tool. You can implement amazing tool, but if it’s not supported by the right people knowing how to use it, which is the right process, really you’re not going to harness the outcome that you need.

Elsa Yin:

Obviously we talked about the trust, people need to know how to use the tool and to trust the tools so that they can get the most out of it. Otherwise it just all becomes a hindrance, and that’s really important to remember. We don’t want to turn something amazing into something that becomes a hindrance to what people need to do everyday.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, no couldn’t agree more and we were talking internally this morning about putting in some great solutions, but then also ensuring as part of that education process, you’re helping people to understand what to do with the information once the system presents it to you. People are used to having… To Ian’s point, some solid solutions and referring to Excel. And now I feel you guys are probably presenting a dashboard to people, and how do we encourage those people to interpret the data and then act on the data so it is helpful to them.

Phil Jones:

And that’s exactly the culture change piece I was talking about before, it’s that we’re starting to get dashboards, and providing that real live data. But it’s about trust, it’s about people understanding that journey. But it’s also an element of consistency as well. It’s about keeping the data structures and the technology we use really consistent to allow people to understand that.

Phil Jones:

We talked before earlier in the week about the challenges we have with different asset owners specifically, having the different terminology for what apps give a similar process. I mean I come from a roads background into water environment, it’s still very similar, and we have to learn a whole new book for a three letter acronym just to come and do the job. Which is all part of the job no matter the industry you work in to.

Phil Jones:

But, it’s how do we work with industry and work with asset owners specifically to say, “Let’s try to get consistency,” because that allows technology to advance more quickly and to be a better value because we’re not having to bespoke everything at the start to make it work in that environment. So, there’s a big journey there to go, change management, that’s about culture change. But it’s how we get that standardization of a project delivery whether it’s a road, or an electrical asset, or a water asset, it doesn’t really matter. Or anything else. It’s a very similar process and getting some standardization there would really help industry to go through and add more value app technology.

Elsa Yin:

Yeah.

Andrew Harris:

You go Elsa. No you go.

Elsa Yin:

To Phil’s point, it’s definitely about having a technology that people want to use, not because we’re making them use it. So, it’s about people feeling that there’s actually real value in doing that. And at Energy Australia, what we try to do is, with the initial set of process we’ve been doing a lot of the setup for the team that will be new, to this tool, and showing them some of the really amazing functionalities that people just want to jump on board. It’s not like we’re pushing it, but when you have an amazing tool people will just naturally use it.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, absolutely. And on that people theme as well, we were talking about previously around things like skill shortages and exceedingly shrunken migration and things like that, and immigration for skilled labor. We’re seeing obviously a skill shortage in regions. Having that consistency in terminology, that embracing of technology to be able to do more with less and make our teams more effective. And effective’s first because you can be really efficient at being ineffective, so really effective I think is a great approach as well.

Andrew Harris:

And maybe between Phil and Elsa, you both sort of talked a little bit about those skills shortage and how technology might be able to help with that.

Andrew Harris:

So, with that we’ve actually got… And I encourage the audience to get their questions going, we have got a question in the chat from Nathan Dunn, so kudos Nathan for being the first to lob one in for us, which is fantastic. And it’s, are the unions open to actually embracing technology on-site?

Andrew Harris:

I probably don’t want us to get into a union discussion, but it’s probably more of a discussion around what about on-site technologies are actually going to help collectively and take it from that, potentially a big brother is watching kind of approach to an efficiency and effectiveness approach. So maybe Elsa, whether you’ve got a view on site-based technology?

Elsa Yin:

Yeah, well I guess to answer that question, union or not, when we roll out something new it’s really important that we give people the adequate training, that they’re not just lumped with something that’s coming out cold. So, it’s really important that we obviously train the people, equip the right people to use the right tool, and that we’re not expecting people to use something that they just are uncomfortable. When there are areas of support, that there’s adequate support.

Elsa Yin:

So, I think if we have all those foundations right, then I don’t see any reason why there will be an issue with the adoption. And obviously it’s really important to check in with the team, whether the change is actually making a positive difference negative difference. We are always on this journey open to change, which is really important. Just because we’ve rolled out something one way, doesn’t mean it has to stay. It will only stay if it makes a positive difference.

Andrew Harris:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Agree.

Phil Jones:

I was going to say in our business we’ve rolled out technology to the front line, to workforce on the site, and have been very heavily embraced. I think as you said, as long as you train people, you equip them to use it, and it’s value adding to their role, a lot of those fears and worries about big brother watching you disappear very quickly. People want to use that stuff and want to take ownership and value from it and make it work well.

Andrew Harris:

And I think it’s also about empowering people to do great work. Ian, you had an interesting look at things earlier in the week around the staff to craft concept and where technology can enable that as well.

Ian Watt:

Yeah, it’s interesting one of the things that we’ve found by organizations adopting technology, and it just happens to be one of our technologies, but highly skilled people, people who have been to university and supervisors, and they’re called staff. People who are out on-site putting in place reinforcement or changing a pump, they’re called craft. And as an organization, you want to try to optimize your staff to craft ratio. You want to try and have the least amount of supervision required to get a high quality job outcome.

Ian Watt:

So, you want a small amount of staff and a large amount of craft delivering a high quality outcome. And what we’ve seen is the ability to adopt some technologies that package up work, send it out to the field very efficiently with minimal miscommunication and maximum information and specificity being sent out to the field. People in the field picking that up on mobile devices, an iPad or such like, knowing exactly where they need to go because they can go to Google Maps, “Oh bang, right here.” Follow that.

Ian Watt:

Having the information at their fingertips, “This is the exact pump,” because I’ve got a picture of the pump serial number plate. “Well, okay perfect I need to replace two flanges,” done, done, done. Perfect. We’ve seen craft to staff ratios improve by 50% and productivity, primarily because of reduction of re-work improve by 20%. Just by the adoption of those field technologies.

Ian Watt:

So, we’ve seen real life examples of that being brought to affect in the field.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, and I think in that vein the highly skilled craft workers as well, because we’ve got exceedingly intelligent people out on site installing so many different things across every discipline that it’s actually enabling them. So, you think about coming off shift for example, in your example around the field staff.

Ian Watt:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Andrew Harris:

And wanting to log out at the end of the day, and being able to do that quickly. Not having to sit there and complete paperwork. You’ve finished your job, you’re home with your family, you know what you’re ready to do the next day, and you walk back in and I guess the InEight… Sorry, wrong shirt, wrong shirt side. The InEight is being able to get more done in eight hours and making InEight to people’s day jobs. And I think that’s where both the old adage of white collar and blue collar productivity, equally skilled in different disciplines is-

Ian Watt:

Exactly.

Andrew Harris:

On that investment.

Ian Watt:

Yeah, 100% Andrew. And it’s about across the board productivity and capability enhancement. It’s about freeing up the hack work and reducing the miscommunication. And that’s where the productivity comes from.

Phil Jones:

We talked about earlier in the week, but the experience I had is these things only work when you create something that people want to use. The example I’ve got is in a previous role we mobilized a road maintenance contract, and we had 80 blue collar road workers who were now on the road in the middle of the night filling potholes and doing all sorts of stuff. And we did an analysis, we needed to give the Android phones for a particular piece of software we were using at the time, and I got a lot of kickback from my team that they wanted to give them these rubberized really awful bloody phones quite frankly, these awful things.

Phil Jones:

And we didn’t do that, we went and bought the latest Samsung Galaxy, whatever it was phone and gave it to them no cover, no nothing at all, just literally handed them a phone in a box. And after 12 months we only had one broken. And feedback from our crew was, the reason that was is because it’s something they wanted, they wanted that technology, they wanted something they can use, and they could keep as part of their life. Rather than having to be on something.

Phil Jones:

It goes back to my point about enabling people. You give them something they want, they’ll look after it and they’ll use it. Give them something that’s just pushed on them because you tell them they have to use it, it’s always going to be a challenge. It’s always going to be an issue, and it’s going to be really hard to convince them to make that work. And you don’t get the data, as a business you don’t get the intelligence, you don’t get the understanding that you want out of it. It becomes a real drag.

Phil Jones:

Whereas enabling people and supporting them to do their role is what’s actually going to get you the value as a business.

Andrew Harris:

Absolutely. And the time to value too because you get that becomes so much faster, so you’re seeing that impact the business in a much shorter fashion.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, thinking about Energy Australia, investing in the… We’ve talked about investing in technology, and I think the bit that we’re all sort of circling around is investing in the right technology. So, what does that look like for the team at EA?

Elsa Yin:

Yeah, and I think that investing in the right technology is very important. So, we need to find something that’s fit for purpose. And on that note, if a really simple can do their job, maybe that is the best tool. But on the other hand, if it’s something more complex, so for example, building a Tallawarra, a gas turbine station, you obviously need the right tool to manage the complexity of the project.

Elsa Yin:

So, we have embarked on a journey. What we wanted to do was to drive consistency across the energy projects portfolio, and also we wanted to get some insights, really early insights. So, what we want to unlock is really, we want experts to be able to use time, and use that time on problem solving, things that they’re really good at. Not at administration, not at trying to cross-collateralize new spreadsheets, et cetera. Or mucking around with lots of different systems.

Elsa Yin:

So, we’re on that journey to consolidate that into a common tool. And with a common tool, with the less experienced project professionals. So for example, the engineers that don’t do project management everyday, it also serves as a framework for them. That it reminds them at a certain point in the project life cycle there’s certain deliverables and remember to update certain things. And it just becomes apparent and part of their everyday work. So, that’s where we’re at.

Elsa Yin:

We’re still quite initial in the journey, so if we speak in 12 months time or 24 months time it will be a lot different.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, I think the framework as a reference point is a really interesting topic, and Phil with D4C and being able to shape its own path, not really inheriting any history, what is that sort of framework and how have you guys come together to sort of build out a framework for reference? Either use data’s or inconsistent users of I guess the tools that you use.

Phil Jones:

I think we start from process rather than from system. So, really understanding what people’s roles are, what they need to do and then how do you get the system to support them doing their role?

Phil Jones:

So really the framework we’ve worked through is that we’ve driven up a process for our organization, for everything we do in the organization and not high level. And we train people in the process, we train people how they’re going to deliver and how they’re going to use, how they’re going to provide their service. But then where do the systems fit in to help them to do that? To make their life easier, add value to their role. So the drive to use a system is based on the fact they need to do what they need to do to their role.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, yeah. Great call out. We’re on a bit of that journey ourselves, and Ian you could probably attest to that in terms of the operating framework we’ve got as even our own sales team-

Ian Watt:

I saw you reach for your pen when Elsa used the word framework.

Andrew Harris:

Yep.

Ian Watt:

I’ve got to admit, I wrote it down as well. I wrote it down as well because I was thinking about this earlier today because Andrew and I had a conversation earlier today where we discussed the business framework that we’ve put in place at InEight. And I was thinking, “Framework, it’s like scaffolding. You put it around a building to not only protect you, but to give you something to build upon.” And it’s absolutely right. And it goes to the point that Henry has asked in the questions around organizational change management, business process re-engineering. It all blends together and you need a framework, a basis of discussion if you like to find the direction in which you want to go. But also to give you some parameters within which to work.

Ian Watt:

To Elsa’s comment, I encourage every organization who is adopting, whether it be the XYZ company way or whether it be the set of objectives that you’re trying to achieve within a timeframe. Try and come up with a framework that you can work to so that you know what it looks like and what finished is.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, good point. I think what good looks like and ensuring that good is repeatable I think is good. But also to kind of circle back and continuously improve the framework-

Ian Watt:

It’s not one and done, it’s an incremental thing. It’s like building an asset and then going through operation, operations and maintenance. I was taught very early on in my career that the project life cycle isn’t just concept to delivery. That might be three or four years, but mostly big capital assets go on for 50 or 60, whether it’s an electricity network or whether it’s a water facility, or whether it’s a railway, they might live for 50, 80, 100 years.

Ian Watt:

So, that first five years of creating the asset is not the operational life cycle of the asset, it goes through these maintenance enhancement operations iterations. So, yeah you’re 100% right Andrew. Those iterations are important.

Phil Jones:

I think looking at Henry’s question, I think it’s a really interesting question about how you do that change management piece. And I think I’ve done this a number of times, try to implement systems and new business, I’ve actually started a business like we are now. And every time it has a teething problem, and the teething problem often becomes between the culture to say, “We need to build a process and get a system to manage that process.” And trying to engage the wider team in that building the process and making that work. And having the key people in the business who are driving the vision around what other system might be using.

Phil Jones:

And that balance between those two groups often becomes a real challenge because you either get the business runs off doing what it needs to do and moves away from a system that maybe has been adopted, or the system owner runs off trying to make the business processes work for the system.

Phil Jones:

I’ve never seen that balance work well to be fair. I think it’s something that we as an industry have to learn, but that process around how we do that is really important, to make sure that you get both those things come together, the process works for the system and the system supports the process.

Andrew Harris:

I saw Elsa chuckle there, so you’ve got some experience in that space?

Elsa Yin:

Yeah, completely concur. I guess the three insights that I would share is number one is, I have been involved in projects that spent years in process re-engineering the whole process, and by the time you finish re-engineering the process, the processes have already changed. The business has move forward.

Elsa Yin:

So, what we’re doing now, one of the key insights is we do it in bit size chunks. We’re focused on a couple of fundamental modules first, get those right, and then keep building on it. So, that’s what we’re doing now. So that’s insight number one.

Elsa Yin:

Insight number two is to try on a pilot group in a small group of people. Test out your process, test out your systems, test out the capabilities. And really back to that triangle to see whether there’s anything you need to tweak before you roll it out to the mass.

Elsa Yin:

And lastly, the user experience. The first time they use the system is so important, it’s having that support. And we’ve driven down three hours to sites, sat with them, so that’s made a whole world of difference that when they actually have an issue they can turn around and ask, “What should I do next?” Rather than going, “Oh, this system is too hard to use, so I’ll just not bother.”

Phil Jones:

And Elsa, I was going to say that bit about keeping people engaged in a system or whatever technology you put out there is so critical. We’ve had a challenge in our business recently where we’ve sold a dream for want of a better term. But the systems would do everything, make you a cup of tea and do the whole lot for you, and clean it up, it’s never going to happen. But, that was a bit about trying to engage people and we probably went too far, too far in terms of trying to explain to people what the system could do.

Phil Jones:

So therefore people never get satisfied the systems ever good for a better term, never meet the needs. So making sure you’re managing that expectation about what the system’s going to do, how it’s going to do it, how the technology’s going to support you, and what you’re still going to need to do to add value in your role is really key part to that culture journey.

Andrew Harris:

Absolutely. And one of my observations has been… I work in software now, my wife always jokes about I know nothing about things like Instagram, how they all work because I don’t naturally go and find all the things inside the applications. And I think if we look at our general users of applications, they’re busy doing their thing, they’re not sitting in there pressing every button just to see what it does and learning their way.

Andrew Harris:

So, that first use and step me through it, it is a bit of hold my hand, we’re not doing their job for them, but that first taste and creating the desire for them to, “Okay, we’ll I’ve got a little bit now, I can.” It’s giving them encouragement for them to continue to use the system.

Andrew Harris:

I think certainly around consistency and enforcements are too strong a word, but certainly guiding people through those processes in the frameworks. And promoting the successes when people see the software or the framework work really well for them and actually getting that ground swell of support.

Andrew Harris:

And Elsa, that’s probably a little bit where you’re faced when user groups coming to it to create that sort as well.

Elsa Yin:

Yeah, that’s exactly it.

Andrew Harris:

How do you find those people typically? I mean I’m fascinated, you guys have got fairly big team, big programs of work. Maybe Elsa, what do you look for in those first trench of people? Whether it’s around attitude or skills that you’re looking for in that?

Elsa Yin:

Yeah, we actually try to pick a really diverse group and people with different appetite for change. We want obviously the ones that are forefront in bleeding edge, leading edge that wants to try everything that’s new. But we also want to get people involved that are… They’re not wanting a change. They’re happy with what they’re doing, because it’s important that we actually see things from all different angles. And hopefully turn 10% so, the change process just becomes so much easier.

Elsa Yin:

Or, once we find out what the issues are, then we can actually actively work on that. Because if you have a group of people that are already on board, then it’s not giving us any other information.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, and Phil from your perspective as well, we’ve had a few conversations around change, and people, and adoption, and promotion. How have you sort of tackled that ?

Phil Jones:

I agree with what Elsa said, but I think it’s for me, it’s an additional step is finding the leader, the true leaders in your business. And then not necessary by hierarchy they’ll be just wherever they come in the business, and bringing them along the journey of being adopters.

Phil Jones:

Certainly, when you get down into the front line crew doing the work, it is about taking the people that people listen to, who are the leaders of those people, bringing them on the journey, and they will very quickly continue to add value and bring the best. They’re the ones that will really make a difference in terms of that adoption. It’s those people there that people trust, they’re the ones that already make a difference in terms of adoption.

Phil Jones:

Along with that, you’ll never get them to adopt something that’s not going to make their life better.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah.

Phil Jones:

You’ll spend your life trying to bash people over the head to do stuff that if it doesn’t really add value to their particular role. And that’s the key, is adding value to their particular role, not just to the business.

Phil Jones:

I’ll give you an example with scheduling. If we’re putting schedules together for reporting purposes that a project manager is not using to run his project, what you get will be bad information into rubbish. You’ve got to make sure that the process flows right through, and if you do that, you tend to not have to worry too much about the adoption because like to use a tool that adds value to their role.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, yeah. No, very very good point. Henry’s on fire in the back half of the webinar today, another one come through from Henry, which was talking about different systems and different roles. Obviously solutions, operators, are part of an ecosystem, so Henry’s question is really around, how do you guys look at tackling integrations between line of business applications and then general business applications? Finance, HR, versus project controls. Maybe just a quick sort of viewpoint on how tight or loosely how you think those things should be coupled.

Phil Jones:

I can give you a bit of a view about change over time. I remember doing implementation of a whole business software probably five or six years ago, and we took the view of trying to find one system that could do as much as we could. Worked with implementation this time we’ve taken individual parts of process in our business and found the best solution for that process and then tried to integrate them.

Phil Jones:

Some of the integrations need to be really what we call IT integrations, really automated. Well, some of them don’t need to be that, but you need to make sure you understand what’s important and spend the time and effort integrating those things. I think it comes back to the sort of fundamental point we’re saying about, what’s the value ad in terms of technology? It is about really understanding what is the value ad, and spending the money where the value’s needed.

Phil Jones:

We do tend to have a perception in this industry that IT, or systems, or technology is an additional overhead cost that’s not really adding value, we sort of try to limit it. I think there’s a long way to go before we get to that limit, an awful long way before we get to that limit, but we still have to make sure, going back to my comment about dream. It’s not going to make a cup of tea for you, it’s not going to do everything you want to do for it, so there’s integration bucket. It’s making sure you understand what’s really adding value and going far enough without going to stuff that’s actually wasteful.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, great. Great insight. And Elsa, multi-industry background and no doubt systems integration’s been a hot topic in plenty of those I’m sure.

Elsa Yin:

Yes. Well, Henry sounds like he’s done one of these before.

Phil Jones:

Henry has done one of these before.

Ian Watt:

This is not his first rodeo.

Elsa Yin:

And also integration. We try to keep the ERP, the really large systems as vanilla as possible because they are complex and they are high cost to change. And we often look at, “Okay, if we don’t want to change those systems, what can we do?” And there’s many other options out there that we’ve come up with.

Elsa Yin:

I remember looking at a quote of doing one of these integrations, and it quotes you hiring five people full-time for years. So, you really need to look at the value of each integration, whether we’re actually solving for the problem that we need to.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, great.

Ian Watt:

At all costs, you’re absolutely right. If you look at it as almost an onion from the inside out, most organizations have their finance system at the core. So, that’s the one you want to customize the least.

Elsa Yin:

That’s right.

Ian Watt:

Absolutely agree with your strategy, Elsa.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, fantastic. And guys, look we’re blowing through the hour, we’ve only got 10 minutes to go so I want to try and grab a couple of extra questions that we sort of talked about. At the end of the day, technology is meant to help deliver excellence for your own customers whether they’re an external customer for you Phil like Sydney Water. Or Elsa, your internal customers which could be your plants or your project teams. What positive impact does technology have or that you guys see technology having on your customers and the advantages that gives them?

Andrew Harris:

So, maybe Elsa, maybe from an internal customer perspective might be a good lens.

Elsa Yin:

Yeah, well even external, obviously we sell energy to the mass market. One of the key differences that technology has been able to provide is our customers ability to look at their energy usage. So, they could potentially see, “Well, actually my air con is using a lot of energy, I should dial back at certain times.” So, these are insights that you wouldn’t be getting 10 years ago.

Elsa Yin:

Internal customer-wise, when we’re doing projects again, similar insights, things that we can see trends, that we may be able to do something more holistic about versus very singular to each project.

Andrew Harris:

Yep, great insight on that. Putting the power back into the hands of the consumer.

Elsa Yin:

Yeah.

Andrew Harris:

Fantastic. And Phil, what about from your perspective?

Phil Jones:

Yeah, for us we talk about the customer being the customer and the client being Sydney Water. And certainly from a technology into the client, it’s really important that we’re very transparent and open, and clear, concise, and accurate in what we do. And timely. And that really looks for us like getting data captured in the field at the front line of the coalface, whether that be the field being in the office, or the field being out there on the ground where the project’s being delivered. And [inaudible 01:06:35] very quickly, just sort of simple but accurate information is really needed by the client.

Phil Jones:

And what that really provides is value for a customer because if we know what we’re going to do, we can talk to the customer about what we’re going to do, when we’re going to do it, and how we’re going to do it and the impacts on them whether that be noise working in their garden. We go in people’s backyards, digging up people’s backyards on a daily basis.

Phil Jones:

Actually being able to talk to them, “We’re going to do this, we’re going to come on Tuesday, we’ll be there for two days and be gone, this is what it’ll be.” That data and understanding about how that flows is so critical because of that inconvenience to the customer. And technology is the only way when we’re doing that across 50 or 60 sites at any one particular time across Sydney, is understanding how that all fits together. And technology, having the right technology is the only way to really get that to work effectively.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, fantastic insight. Ian, what about from your perspective? Just, I mean it’s probably a little bit of an InEight lens there that you could put on that and then I got one more that we’ll close out on.

Ian Watt:

Well, yeah and it’s been a common theme through Phil and Elsa’s discussion this afternoon, that technology, the technology site will never work. It’s got to actually… Rubber has got meet the road and it’s got to make people’s lives easier. It’s got to be innate to what they do, and not be, “You must enter your information into this system,” it’s got to be, system because it frees me up from filling in 15 other spreadsheets that I used to have to fill. It propagates through.

Ian Watt:

So, that’s the big theme that I’m seeing from technology nowadays, is that good technologies are adding value to people’s lives.

Andrew Harris:

Good wrap up Ian. And so in closing guys, I’ve got a question for Elsa and Phil. Both of you, budget holders and need to go into the business, and ask for funding to do certain things. So, what would be really your top reason that you would take to the SLT if you’re asking them to invest in new or more technology? What are the things that you think that that SLT are looking for when you’re bringing in technology investment to the table.

Phil Jones:

I can start but for me there are two real things that they’re interested in and one is the value ad. And the value ad looks like better information, better understanding of our business, better understanding of what we do so you can make smarter decisions. To really thinking about how does that bring our business forward? How do we understand what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis more effectively? Not necessarily more efficiently but more effectively so that we can make a decision today that will perhaps prevent cost in the future or that’ll maybe add value in the future.

Phil Jones:

But also cost is always going to be a big part of that conversation. It always is a big a part of every decision that you make in a business, but it’s being able to weigh those two things cost and value. And some of the cost decision might just be it will save costs. It will save costs to have our invest some money in technology, and the actual cost of doing the work will go down. That’s quite a simple way to invest in technology, I think that’s a way a lot of our organizations do do it. If you look at how to reduce cost through technology, but it’s also the next stage really I feel is being able to add value and invest to add more cost into the business, but it adds further value to your service or product, whatever that might be in your world to really provide better service to our end customer who might of water, roads, electricity.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, nice one Phil. And Elsa, from your point of view?

Elsa Yin:

Yeah, I agree with everything that Phil has said. It’s really about value and return, and the two lenses is strategic or it helps with delivery excellence. And delivery excellence is actually meeting on our delivery promises on cost, schedule, time, all those things. So, if there is a business case that can ensure we do all that, then the value speaks for itself.

Andrew Harris:

Yeah, fantastic guys. So, that actually brings us to a close. We’ve just spent a fantastic hour together. A big thank you to Phil and Elsa for today from a client perspective. And Ian, thank you as well for joining us today. Thank you very much to our participants, some good questions there. Feel free to engage and put any more in the chat. And if any of you want to go back and revisit the webinar it will be hosted on InEight.com/webinars and that’s where you can find a heap of additional content that we’ve posted in other webinars as well.

Andrew Harris:

But we really appreciate all of you spending time with us today, and hope you got some insight out of it to take into your technology decision moving forward.

Andrew Harris:

With that, we’ll sign off and thank everyone and have a great afternoon.

Elsa Yin:

Thank you.

Phil Jones:

Thanks everyone.

Ian Watt:

Thank you.

Phil Jones:

Bye-bye.