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"Building starts with organizing" — that's the motto of Heijmans Cable and Pipeline Systems. And organizing starts with data, we like to add.
But how do you avoid losing valuable time on analyzing unnecessary data? To answer this question, we developed Dimensys Process Insight — a new service that we put to the test with Heijmans.
With insight, focus, and optimization as the much talked-about results.
Results that, in turn, also fit well with Heijmans' strategy of "Make it better, smarter, more sustainable." Heijmans is the construction company of which Heijmans Cable and Pipeline Systems is a part.
By aiming for continuous quality improvement, innovation and integrality, Heijmans realizes added value for its customers.
"With data being the proverbial new gold, we see that organizations and companies are increasingly using process mining — software that enables you to dig up that gold, as it were," explains senior business consultant, Patrick Beks.
"But that gold — all that data — is often spread out over various 'mines', basically business units. This can result in quite a search to find the right lumps of gold. That's why we have developed Dimensys Process Insight. It's a handy tool that a company can use to immediately start digging in the correct mine."
The Digital Collaboration Platform: a Powerful Foundation
Mining is a nice play on words, considering that the expertise of Heijmans Cable and Pipeline Systems is 'underground.'
One of the company's responsibilities, on behalf of network managers, is the realization and modification of gas, water and electricity connections, as well as the communication surrounding this work. That communication comprises an enormous tangle of information exchanges about the work process by various involved parties.
To steer these exchanges in the right direction, network managers and contractors in this sector work via the Digital Collaboration Platform (abbreviated as DSP in Dutch): a message platform on which a collection of standardized messages is exchanged between the two parties according to an established process.
"Our work requires good organization and knowledge in order to lay all cables and pipelines safely and smartly. This results in a process with a large number of administrative actions, preparations and checks," explains Heijmans company director William Adrian.
"From arranging traffic measures or a soil analysis to familiarizing people with the location in question. This occurs continuously, considering that we perform some two hundred jobs per week, year in and year out. Then it becomes very important that we do everything properly the first time, so we can deploy our people as efficiently and effectively as possible and the customer is ultimately satisfied."
Process Steps Provide a Wealth of Digital Footprints
This is where the DSP comes in.
"Because all process steps can be tracked via that platform, it provides a wealth of digital footprints," says Beks.
"Actually, all those steps are process benchmarks. Since the DSP uses standardized moments of information exchange, this results in ideal data on which to use process mining and thus clarify whether the process is proceeding according to the standard, where any problems are found, and what is causing these obstacles."
But you can also quickly 'drown' in such a huge quantity of data, causing the desired efficiency improvement to develop too slowly or not at all.
"That's why it's important to know precisely which data you want to extract from the system," explains Beks.
"Based on this viewpoint, we — along with Heijmans and Minit, our process mining software provider — have developed a successful methodology to quickly reap the benefits of process mining. That is Dimensys Process Insight."
Process Mining and Lean Six Sigma as Golden Opportunity
The added value of Process Insight is in its combination with Lean Six Sigma, the management strategy by which the quality of production and administrative processes can be improved, step by step.
That combination turned out to be a golden opportunity.
"What's more, Heijmans is a respected Six Sigma organization that had already taken the initial steps in process mining. That's why we saw an ideal opportunity to further professionalize the method with these three parties and test it in practice," summarizes Beks.
Two strategic focal points were key for Heijmans: increasing the financial return and increasing customer satisfaction.
Or, as Adrian says, "Where and how are those two aspects hindered in the process? And to what extent are they aspects that we as a company can directly influence? For example, if a customer does not appear after a confirmed appointment, we incur a great deal of extra work and costs for withdrawing things like temporary traffic measures, permits, etc. and for rescheduling this job. It means contacting the customer again, sending confirmation e-mails, making applications, organizing, and so on. So, in the process, that is an obstacle that we are certainly inconvenienced by, but one we don't have any influence on."
Translating Strategic Focal Points into Measurable Units
The determination of the factors of influence is an essential part of Process Insight.
"And then Lean Six Sigma comes into play because an organization can obtain a CTQ flowdown from it," adds Beks.
"The CTQs (Critical to Qualities) indicate which organizational elements are crucial for achieving the strategic focal points — in the Heijmans case, financial return and customer satisfaction. Via a flowdown, you determine which measurable units are related to these elements. Then, in your search for influencing factors, you apply process mining to these measurable units. If you're not successful in expressing an issue in these measurable units, then you don't understand enough of the problem to be able to solve it."
Without a CTQ flowdown, an organization is actually searching for a needle in multiple haystacks.
With process mining, of course, you can sift through all those haystacks and ultimately find that needle but, thanks to the combination of Lean Six Sigma in Process Insight and the resulting defined data, you already know in which specific haystack the needle is located — so you only have to search there.
This results in pure time savings, which allows the organization to reach the heart of the data and, ultimately, the tools for process improvement much earlier.