Siemens “Advantedge” Success Program expands virtual project infrastructure during COVID-19
The Siemens Digital Industries Software Advantedge Success Program is a comprehensive set of services that help manufacturers quickly align with the value of Siemens’ software portfolio and leverage the experience of Siemens experts, our best practices, and tools. The Advantedge program includes a full breadth of services: strategy, engineering, implementation, learning, optimization, support, and managed services to ensure our solutions deliver the promise of digital transformation.
While remote project teams have always been supported in our Advantedge program, the use of this remote approach is becoming a necessity. For manufacturers implementing new MOM systems or migrating from legacy systems, the choice of a technology partner and deployment methodology are critical to ensure the desired benefit is returned to the business with minimal disruption. Making sure that partner can support you in a socially distanced world is now a requirement as well.
Remote Project Implementations become Universal
The impact of recent worldwide travel restrictions on scheduled project deployments has been dramatic. Onsite meetings were cancelled, disruptions in demand and supply chains were redirecting project resources, and personal situations were impacting team member availability. Creativity and resourcefulness are the keys to keeping projects on track in this new paradigm.
Fortunately, the Siemens Advantedge program already supported remote project deployments for customers that preferred a remote approach. Remote project teams allowed customers to access expertise from the opposite side of the globe in a cost-effective way.
While in-person meetings are preferable during concept and process workshops, we had to shift our mindset to conduct these sessions virtually. That urgency led us to accelerate the use of our existing virtual collaboration tools and adapt them for use in more strategic settings.
One of those tools is what we call our “Siemens Concept Board.” The concept board was not a new tool, it had, in fact, been in light use for a few years. When faced with transition from in-person workshops to remote meetings, however, the tool became more important and relevant than ever. Once we started using it, we were pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to conduct these meetings. In addition, some of the accommodations we made to streamline the meetings actually led to new efficiencies.
The Concept Board allows teams to sketch free form on a virtual white board. Multiple people can sketch on the board from their laptops. Embedded templates that apply to MOM processes, commonly used flow charts and process diagrams, are used for process mapping and definitions. Using those templates actually allows a process to be mapped faster than it could be by hand on a white board.
Reference documents are created within or linked to the project, allowing organized and rapid sharing with project collaborators and reviewers. Likewise, workshop output can be exported as an entire board or as an image and sent to additional collaborators or reviewers.
While we also leverage commercial virtual meeting software and shared document repositories to support our project teams, we have Siemens software packages tailored to this type of project implementation. For example, our Polarion application allows us to manage project requirements throughout the solution lifecycle. Because this is within our own infrastructure, we can configure our software as needed by the implementation.
Our Remote Implementation Framework in Action
Here’s an example of a project that we were working on as the shutdowns began. A chemical manufacturer had a large MOM implementation project, which had been divided into different phases. Phase 1 went live in September 2019. We were working with different production lines and were scheduled to gather requirements with the customer from February through May 2020. We could not travel to the plants as planned given worldwide travel restrictions.
We were forced to quickly work in a completely different way than we had planned. We had to organize internally in a way to make our project happen despite these conditions. We split the scheduled all-day onsite meeting into two 4-hour virtual sessions. Those sessions went well, and we managed to gather most of the requirements using our virtual tools. While onsite meetings may have been faster overall, we are still on track to complete the requirements by the middle of June, which is consistent with the original schedule.
There were disadvantages. The time required to work out issues and understand complexities was longer. Sometimes we had to isolate the more complex issues and move those to a different focused meeting. But there were unexpected advantages as well. As we moved complex issues to separate sessions, we realized that we could use the larger team’s time more effectively. Our analysis of those complex issues was more thorough and effective in the smaller, separate group.
We were fortunate to have an infrastructure already available for these remote meetings. Even so, we had to accommodate the fact that our virtual sessions were going to be less efficient than in-person meetings. The interesting thing is that if you look at the additional time we needed to do our work virtually, it was more than offset with reduction in time and expense for travel.
New Best Practices for Remote Implementation
Now that we have converted many projects from in-person meetings to virtual workshops, we are adding best practices specifically for a remote methodology. We have documented these best practices in a new white paper: Advancing Digital Transformation with Remote Deployment. This white paper describes all phases of MOM project implementation, and the specific activities and remote tools that should be applied along the way. I hope it helps you as we continue to move business forward with the need for social distancing. Download the White Paper today