BP refines £4.7bn operational efficiency plan

Changes to project and process management drive savings.

Oil giant BP is aiming to remove a total of $7 billion (£4.7 billion) from annual operational costs, aided by a hugeoverhaul of IT, processes and project management.

Under a strategy taking place over a total of five years, the company began by successfully removing $4 billion (£2.7 billion) from operational costs since 2008, a spokesperson confirmed today. BP has now said it will now target a further $3 billion (£2 billion) removal of costs "over the next two to three years".

Extensive changes to back office operations, including IT, have played a significant role in the cost cutting so far. Last August, BP cut ties with 35 application development providers and signed £1.5 billion worth of deals to outsource to IBM, Accenture, Wipro, Infosys, and Tata Consultancy Services. In December, it outsourced global communications to T-Systems and Siemens in another bid to reduce the number of suppliers it works with.

Job losses have played a significant part in the cost cuts, with a net loss of 8,000 staff in the last two years -- some 22,000 left the company and 14,000 joined. Among these, over 150 executives and 1,500 permanent contractors at its office locations have left their roles.

BP's acquisitions of oil firms Amoco and Arco, in 1998 and 2000 respectively, also brought in a range of legacy IT systems, leading BP to undertake a major IT standardisation project in recent years.

The oil giant uses the Oracle Primavera P6 project portfolio management software to standardise scheduling and planning, and improve handling of hundreds of routine work orders daily at each refinery. It also runs Oracle Crystal Ball business intelligence systems, to help with forecasting time and costs needed on large exploration projects.

Other key software the company has standardised on includes SAP financials and IBM Maximo asset management. It also runs an in-house Operating Management System, which is implemented at all major sites and aims to help design and manage processes tightly.

Tony Hayward, chief executive at BP, last week told financial analysts the company had made "great progress" in reducing costs. While the company's oil business was performing strongly, he said, "our financial performance has yet fully to reflect this". The changes would be "unrelenting", Hayward said, adding: "We believe we have made a good start, but it's only a start."

BP plans to get the most from its assets and "make this portfolio work harder for us", Hayward said. The company has established regional business service centres, in Budapest, Kuala Lumpur and Chicago, aiming to carry out finance, customer service and procurement more efficiently. 

Further cost cutting will be achieved through improved project management, as well as better procurement, marketing, refining, and drilling. Refining and marketing will be responsible for two-thirds of the £2 billion cuts due over the next two to three years.

BP focuses on improved project management

Project management will be overhauled in the company's exploration and production divisions, in which BP said a "significant organisational restructuring" is taking place. A new team, called Centralised Developments, will manage all projects.

In a typical project, BP models the activities the company plans to take. It starts by modelling the business process, from which it creates change management models.

"We see these interlocking process and change activities as fundamental to gaining active participation of asset staff," said David Feineman, business process advisor at BP in Houston, speaking at last week's Gartner Business Process Management Summit in London.

This story, "BP refines £4.7bn operational efficiency plan" was originally published by Computerworld UK.

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