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BusinessPort - helping you streamline your processes

Friday, June 22, 2012

BusinessPort of Aberdeen grew 33 per cent last year and doubled staff head count, helping companies integrate Process, Risk and Compliance through the use of its agility intelligent Business Management System.


BusinessPort, a software and consultancy based in Aberdeen, is reporting 33 per cent business growth over the past year, helping companies streamline and integrate their processes and procedures. The company has also doubled staff over the past year.

The company helps companies get on top of their procedures and processes.

Many companies have got into a situation where they have more procedures than staff can manage, they keep bolting on more procedures without removing any, and people's professional judgment is distorted by the stress of trying to work out which procedure they are meant to be following.

The procedures are often stored on different systems, and are not up to date, conflicting with other procedures. Meanwhile there are certain tasks which don't have an approved company-wide means of accomplishing.

BusinessPort aims to streamline all of that.

It starts off by carrying out a Discovery Exercise whereby members of their Professional Services Division visit a company, understand how its procedures work, help filter out which procedures it needs.

Then it puts together an online system which can by run stand alone or via Microsoft SharePoint Portal, which all company employees can access, so they can understand as clearly as possible what they need to do at what stage.

BusinessPort has around 50 major clients, and most of them have between 1,000 and 10,000 employees accessing the system regularly, so it has around 250,000 users.

Clients include Nexen (oil and gas company based in Calgary); oil major Total (using the system in its bases in Aberdeen and Nigeria); Canrig (a drilling company based in Houston and Calgary); Clough (an Australian engineering and construction company); the Saudi Arabian National Guard (a Saudi Arabian military force); Petrofac (a UK engineering company); Centrica (a UK oil and gas company); Babcock Marine (a UK engineering support company); Bibby Offshore (a UK offshore shipping company); Lloyd's Register, a UK risk consultancy; and Ahlstrom, a Finnish wood processing company.

The system can also be used offshore - Bibby Offshore uses it in this way, with procedures being updated in head office, and the latest procedures being sent out to the vessels.

The company is targeting all kinds of businesses which are highly regulated and have operational risks which need managed processes.

In March 2012, BusinessPort launched the second version of its Agility software. The new version, which is already being used by construction giant Petrofac, has improved tools to work with the process documentation, both for administrators and users.

On Agility 2.0, users see information which is more tailored to them. There is a more advanced user interface both for users and for administrators. There is a module to manage risks.


Company background

BusinessPort was founded by Peter Shields in 1996, who had just completed putting together a maintenance management system for oil company Conoco (now ConocoPhillips) in Aberdeen, working for a company called Brown and Root (now part of Kellogg, Brown and Root, or KBR). He could see the benefit of process maps replacing text based procedural documents, and thought it should be possible to build a business around that.

Despite being based in Aberdeen, the company's first client was an umbilicals manufacturer in Florida and the second client was based in Denmark.

Lloyd's Register, when assessing engineering giant Siemens' use of the system in a quality audit, wrote:

"The structure, content and usability of this system was excellent. The structure is process based and allows the user to quickly identify their role within the system. Change, control and archiving of records is good and the company should be congratulated on their effort with the development o this system. This electronic system is one of the best examples of its type."


Users

Users can access the system as often as required, according to marketing executive Nicola Smith.

If they aren't sure exactly what processes they need to follow to complete a task, they can look it up on the system. They can search for a procedure, see who is involved and what they have to do.

Most of the information is provided in diagrams - there is an emphasis away from providing lengthy text based documents, which are expensive to produce and hard to get people to read. 'It is presented visually in a way that's easy to understand,' Ms Smith says.

The individuals who have to do the work can log in and see clearly what procedures they have to follow in a certain task, because of what job title they have.

When there are updates to procedures, the relevant individuals can see when they log on next that something has been changed, so they can read it.

In future, the information might be accessed more using tablet PCs rather than desktop PCs, particularly when an expected generation of indestructible tablet PCs comes onto the market, she says. This way people can see what procedures they should be following when they are doing the work.


Administrators

From the administrators' side:

Administrators can design a process, with specific instructions for people in specific roles, which they should follow.

There is a tool for sending processes out to people in specific roles so they can approve the text, and check that this has been done.

The software is geared around processes - short chunks of instructions, not lengthy text documents.

There is a special agility mapping tool for putting this process together, showing who does what, where and when. Using Visio, Microsoft's organizational diagrammatic programming system, overview diagrams can be designed to help further simplify an overall process, which link in seamlessly with agility

You can map the way tasks are completed in the company, and which person in which specific role performs which task at which point, and how the task should be done.

The new process mapping tool is up to 3 times faster than the old one, Ms Smith says.

Training administrators to use the system usually takes 2 days, in a training course which BusinessPort provides.


Consulting

The consultancy provided by BusinessPort is perhaps the most important part. BusinessPort specialists visit a company and look through its existing procedures in depth, and try to work out areas they can be simplified or streamlined.

Duplicate procedures can be merged, redundant procedures removed, duplicate job titles (such as co-ordinator and supervisor) can be merged.

If the company has a merger, Business Port will identify common processes across different business areas and harmonize them.



Associated Companies
» BusinessPort
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