RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Success Story

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

A petrochemical company with a history of steady growth came to realize that all its operational technologies (which had been installed over a decade ago) were facing an end-of-life threat in the near future. Rapid technological advancement in recent years had given its competitors an edge, and a vast array of alternative operational technologies could be combined in a number of different ways. In the technological world, the best system today may quickly fade into obsolescence tomorrow.

The company needed to know whether they should invest in proven technologies or take a chance on new technologies that were in their R&D pipeline. The decisions were not at all clear-cut, and the wrong choices and strategies could have significant long-term repercussions.

Decision Strategies, a business consulting firm in Houston, Texas, was engaged by the company to provide a clear technology investment strategy.

What We Did

  • Provided clarity in technology investment decisions
  • Developed a strategy that enabled the company to adapt to future changes
  • Gained alignment among different functional teams

How We Did It

  • Applied an Integrated Decision Management approach
  • Implemented a rigorous probabilistic analysis for risk and uncertainty management

The Challenge

Faced with a pressing timeline for replacing an aging technology system and a need for a more efficient system in the future, the client needed a strategy to address both short-term and long-term needs.

The new R&D technology needed to be more than simply a solution to the current system…it had to provide flexibility in the future and give the company a competitive advantage. Risks and uncertainties associated with development of the new technology included technical risk, commercial risk, and time to market.

Expert opinion varied widely regarding which technology solution was best. Some preferred proven technologies, while others believed that new technologies promised significant new benefits. More than a dozen different solutions were proposed, but these opinions were largely based on judgment and experience. It was not clear how value and risks for each solution were assessed.

The Solution

To better understand the issues and achieve alignment, we facilitated a workshop with client teams – including a client leadership team – to define objectives and agree to a basis for valuation.

Combat Biases in Thinking

Through a facilitated IDM process, we challenged the teams with hard questions: What would make a less popular solution more attractive? What could cause a “good” solution to fail? The process helped the teams rethink each solution from a different angle and gain a more objective understanding of each one. Instead of addressing which solution was “right,” the process focused on understanding trade-offs to create even better solutions.

Adapt to Change

We worked closely with subject matter experts to assess uncertainties in benefit, risk, cost, and time. Through both qualitative and quantitative assessments, we helped the teams develop technology strategies and gain a clear understanding of value and risk profiles for each alternative, including how the risks associated with new R&D technologies could be effectively managed. As a result, the client company developed and implemented the investment strategy for its R&D technology with clarity and confidence.


TESTIMONIAL

Decision Strategies has a well-priced, high-quality product. They are well-versed in sizing solutions and workflows, and more importantly, they can both teach theory and put it into practice.

Consultant Oil and Gas Company