ExxonMobil Global Projects Company Transforms Collaboration on Major Capital Projects Using AWS, with Projected Savings of Thousands of Engineering Hours
Within the oil and gas industry, there is a need to innovate and transform how an operator and its partners—such as engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers, and vendors—collaborate during major capital project (MCP) execution. By streamlining collaboration between an operator and its partners, tens of thousands of project hours could be saved per MCP.
ExxonMobil Global Projects Company, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation created to deliver competitively advantaged projects to meet the needs across Chemicals, Fuels & Lubricants and Upstream, entered into an exploratory dialogue with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to see how its technology could help reduce collaboration toil on MCPs. Starting from ExxonMobil’s goal to streamline collaboration and reduce duplicative efforts, AWS worked backwards to identify the first MCP business workflow for a proof of concept. After AWS Professional Services delivered a working proof of concept on time and on budget, ExxonMobil chose AWS to help deliver an MCP collaboration platform, Digital Project Home (DPH). “We want DPH to become a project management platform that consolidates our discipline capabilities and applications and facilitates collaboration with our contractors,” says Erica Flaherty, capital projects digital lead for ExxonMobil.
Digital Project Home adoption by one of our major capital projects has shown its capabilities to address project pain points regarding collaboration. I am looking forward to the innovation and savings it will bring to more project teams in the future.”
ExxonMobil Global Projects vice president
Encountering Bottlenecks in the Document Review Workflow
Document review is a critical MCP engineering workflow during which engineers review and approve controlled documents and drawings that define the design specifications for those capital projects. On average, a review team has four engineers and one lead reviewer with a contractually mandated service-level agreement of 10 days for each review.
ExxonMobil’s document review process is ripe for better collaboration. Comments may be duplicative or contradictory when they are not visible between reviewers during a review period. The engineers collaborate using multiple tools like document sharing and editing platforms, but that means they spend additional time switching between tools, decreasing productivity and creating a negative user experience. Manual document routing may take up to one business day out of the service-level agreement time—longer in cases of business-interrupting events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic—reducing the amount of time for review and occasionally leading to bottlenecks in the workflow. The lead reviewer also rationalizes comments from the reviewing engineers, a time-consuming step before the final sign-off.
Building a Scalable Solution for Thousands of Global Users
ExxonMobil built its DPH platform on AWS for an MCP where it is leading the construction and operation of a future natural gas liquefaction plant and related facilities. To help build the DPH solution, ExxonMobil and AWS Professional Services engaged two AWS partners: Pariveda Solutions Inc., an AWS Premier Consulting Partner that is also supporting DPH in production, and projekt202, which applies experience strategy and observational insights to the development of software to improve the user experience. projekt202 is a subsidiary of Amdocs, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner.
DPH integrates with ExxonMobil’s existing Active Directory (AD) and is based on cloud-native serverless architecture, enabling ExxonMobil to build with increased agility and innovation and lower total cost of ownership. The low-friction serverless architecture also eliminates infrastructure management tasks such as server or cluster provisioning, patching, operating system maintenance, and capacity provisioning—making the platform compliant with ExxonMobil’s Enterprise Architecture mandates. The company uses AWS Lambda, which lets users run code without provisioning or managing servers. The serverless compute functions at every layer of the DPH platform, enabling it to be independently scalable while providing the benefits of the pay-per-use cloud model. The platform’s APIs are managed by Amazon API Gateway, a fully managed service that makes it easy for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor, and secure APIs at any scale.
ExxonMobil expects to use its DPH platform for multiple MCPs worldwide—meaning thousands of users collaborating through multiple simultaneous business workflows—so platform elasticity is critical for business. The platform’s data is stored in the fully managed, multiregion, multimaster, durable Amazon DynamoDB, a serverless key-value and document database that delivers single-digit millisecond performance at any scale. The website is hosted on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.
ExxonMobil has full control of its data in DPH. Its data is encrypted at rest using encryption keys that the company owns and manages using AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS), while the data in transit is encrypted using Transport Layer Security certificates also provided by ExxonMobil. To manage activity on the platform, DPH pairs retention policies with AWS CloudTrail, a service that enables governance, compliance, operational auditing, and risk auditing, and Amazon CloudWatch, a monitoring and observability service that provides companies with data and actionable insights to monitor applications, respond to system-wide performance changes, optimize resource utilization, and get a unified view of operational health.
Saving Time through Automation and Real-Time Functionality on AWS
DPH went live in March 2020, and as the project scales up, so will the realized benefits. ExxonMobil estimates that real-time collaboration in DPH can save ExxonMobil engineers an equivalent of 30,000 hours per MCP, assuming 15,000 document reviews for a typical multibillion-dollar MCP. For example, using DPH, lead engineering reviewers can make real-time changes interactively with engineer reviewers rather than rationalizing changes.
The DPH platform is also a one-stop shop for document review, whereas review engineers previously used multiple tools to collaborate and review a document. “DPH is faster than alternatives,” says Kaitlyn Payne, an ExxonMobil project engineer. ExxonMobil also expects the platform to save up to 40 percent of the document controller team’s time because the team no longer has to route documents manually, enabling ExxonMobil to reassign document controller team staff to other higher-value tasks.
End user experience was also a key success criterion for DPH, as alternative solutions that ExxonMobil had explored required additional training time. “DPH is intuitive. Users do not need training,” says Sorin Lupascu, an ExxonMobil facilities lead. Through automation in DPH, the lead reviewer can reduce the error rate caused by siloed reviews in a typical electronic document management process by 3–4 percent. This automation reduces the potential for errors and associated rework that otherwise might incur additional costs for each MCP.
Increasing Efficiency of MCPs in Years to Come
Currently, DPH only supports the document review workflow, but future editions will also provide new business workflows including technical queries and requests for information. DPH is globally accessible, secure, and ready to scale. It is becoming a platform of choice for capital projects collaboration at ExxonMobil and is on track to scale for multiple workflows across multiple capital projects in 2020 and in years following. "Digital Project Home adoption by one of our major capital projects has shown its capabilities to address project pain points regarding collaboration. I am looking forward to the innovation and savings it will bring to more project teams in the future," says Decie Autin, ExxonMobil Global Projects vice president.
About Exxon Mobil Corporation
Exxon Mobil Corporation, one of the world’s largest publicly traded energy providers and chemical manufacturers, through its affiliates explores for oil and natural gas on six continents, and sells fuels and lubricants under four brands: Esso, Exxon, Mobil, and ExxonMobil Chemical.
ExxonMobil Global Projects Company is a subsidiary accountable to deliver competitively advantaged projects to meet the needs across Chemicals, Fuels & Lubricants and Upstream.
Benefits of AWS
- Creates the potential to save ExxonMobil engineers an equivalent of at least 30,000 hours per MCP, assuming 15,000 document reviews for a typical multi-billion MCP
- Expected to save up to 40% of the document controller team’s time since the team no longer has to route documents manually
- Estimated to reduce by 3–4% error rate caused by siloed reviews in a typical electronic document management process
AWS Services Used
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AWS Professional Services
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AWS Key Management Service
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AWS Identity and Access Management
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