6.3 Stage I: Preparations

The preparatory stage of the project lasted for about two months -- from the mandate was given by the BoT to the first workshop (WS1) was arranged to involve more actors in the project (see ). The stage was dominated by meetings within the process group, and communication with the customer (BoT) and some future users. The focus of the activities in the first stage was to understand the mission -- what are the objectives of the project (including final deliverables) and how to proceed in order to succeed.

The preparatory stage is discussed in terms of the kick-off meeting (section 6.3.1), further preparations for the next stage (section 6.3.2) and interaction with the project principal -- the board of technology (section 6.3.3).

6.3.1 Project kick-off

The kick-off meeting was arranged as a two-day session with the process group and two external consultants as participants. The consultants held academic positions and had been invited to participate based on their previous contacts with the Statoil corporation. They only provided advice and did not take part in actual work. The consultants had general knowledge of Statoil from participating in other projects.

From the mandate, the process group had a large degree of freedom in deciding how to proceed and what to create. The overall objective of the kick-off meeting was to plan ahead (A1), reducing the uncertainty following from the degree of freedom.

An outcome of the meeting related to enterprise modeling was a project plan and a stated need for enterprise modeling as a part of strategy development. These will be discussed in more detail.

The project plan -- M1

The project plan (excerpts are provided in figure 6.3) describes the main steps in the project. The model incorporates activities, deliverables, time and roles, and can be viewed as a first enterprise model of the strategy project itself.
 
Figure 6.3: Excerpts from the project plan -- M1

A characteristic of the project plan is that it describes form and not content. By form is meant general characteristics of a way of working: When to have a meeting, when and with whom to discuss status of work, when to travel abroad to learn from other companies, when and who to discuss preliminary versions with, etc. Many of the activities of the project plan (and the agendas of the meetings as well) were status of work (A2), i.e., assessments of what the various actors had done or planned to do.

Content, on the other hand, relates to the specific decisions that are made as a part of strategy development -- what are the challenges we face, the technologies and competencies required, our position concerning required competencies, etc.

As neither the work process nor the final deliverable were known in advance, it was not feasible to create a plan with explicit specification of contents. The only alternative was to describe form, and use the plan to coordinate the project groups and other participants.

The project plan remained almost unchanged throughout the development phase, except for some dates that had to be changed due to unforeseen collisions between meetings in other projects. There was very little disagreement concerning the project plan, at least exposed in formal meetings.

Enterprise modeling as a part of strategy development

A second issue at the kick-off meeting was the choice of method for strategy development. Based on brainstorming and group work, the process group and the consultants proposed a number of principles for how to accomplish the task given by the mandate.

One of the development principles was to create enterprise models describing Statoil's business activities related to the gas value chain, oil value chain, and internationally. The enterprise models were intended to describe both the current situation ("as-is" models) and the envisioned future situation ("to-be" models). Information to be included in the models was to be taken from the existing business strategies and plans for the corporation.

In addition to what was referred to as enterprise models, a number of analyses were proposed, incorporating assessments of technological position and factors like technology drivers and business challenges.

The inclusion of enterprise modeling in the strategy development method stemmed from a perceived need for shared understanding of challenges, arenas, and decision making processes in the organization (O1).

6.3.2 Further preparations

After the kick-off meeting, the process group arranged two more meetings to develop the guidelines to be used in the next stage. Both meetings lasted for one day and with the two consultants participating as well.

The main purposes of the activities at this stage were to prepare presentation for the BoT, and to plan the accomplishment of a workshop referred to as workshop 1 (WS1).

The following three activities are described in more detail:

A few other decisions and activities of relevance to enterprise modeling in the project will also be discussed.

1. Formulation of project objectives

Based on the mandate presented in section , the process group formulated three goals for the technology strategy development and dissemination process. The three types of goals are in accordance with Statoil's corporate standards for project accomplishment (Hetland, 1992:121): Although the goals remained unchanged throughout the project, the perceived challenges of attaining the goals changed. E.g., the final deadline of the development phase was extended one month (to 1st of May, extending the duration of the strategy development phase to about 6 months) to reflect increased challenges of developing a comprehensive communication package instead of a traditional paper document as the final deliverable.
 
From the goals listed above and discussions among the project participants, it is clear that the process group and their customers considered it as a success criterion to make future users really understand and able to enact the envisioned strategy. Their objective was to make organizational actors internalize the strategy, not only to write another paper document to be put on the shelf. 
 

2. The strategy development method -- M2

According to the mandate given from the BoT, the process group had to work out a method for technology strategy development and dissemination. The main structure of the method is provided in figure 6.4. The M2 model was commonly referred to as the method foil, as it was printed on a transparency film and frequently used during discussions regarding method throughout the project.
 
Figure 6.4: A method for technology strategy development -- M2

The method foil prescribes three major steps:

The method foil was developed by the process group as a kind of work order to be carried out by three work groups to be established at WS1. The method foil was accompanied by a few techniques initially proposed by the two consultants. The techniques (or rather, diagrams) consisted of matrices that outlined technologies along one axis and variables for categorization, evaluation and assessment of technologies and technological needs along the other axis (A11).
 
 
Some of the variables for assessment in the matrices were classification of technologies as basis, key or front technologies, assessment of Statoil's current and preferred position, and perceived potentials for the given technology. 
 

The method foil contained explicit questions about core contents to be included in the final strategy document. The foil did not specify how to do the job. Thus, an important difference between the method foil M2 and the project plan M1 is that they focus on content versus form, respectively. Both models describe work to be accomplished in the project, but they describe different aspects.

3. Definition of a shared terminology

Already from the kick-off meeting, the need for a precise and commonly agreed upon terminology with definitions of the most frequently and widely used terms was stated. The following citations from a PG meeting illustrate the perceived needs and benefits of a shared terminology:
"It is important to have a terminology that is consistent and comprehensible to all [actors] working with the technology strategy."

"A shared terminology must be established to ensure anchoring [of the strategy in the organization]."

The process group stated that they needed a shared terminology for two reasons: Development of a terminology ensured that the process group understood the terms in the same way, and a precise vocabulary was required to communicate the strategy in the dissemination phase.

At the final meeting in the preparation stage, a number of definitions were proposed and accepted after some discussion. These concerned terms like technology, competence, basis technology, key technology, front technology, basis competence, core competence, etc. However, agreeing upon exact formulation of definitions was not easy. Much time was spent on reaching definitions that were accepted by all.
 
 

An observation indicating differences in understanding (false consensus, according to Boland and Tenkasi, 1995:358) was the use of the term dynamic document. Some actors understood it in the sense interactive and with animation. Other actors understood dynamic to imply frequent changes of the contents to reflect changes in reality. The differences in understanding did not seem to be recognized.
 

Additional activities and decisions

In addition to the discussions of project goals, development method and terminology, there were a host of other activities undertaken and decisions made. A few of them, being directly relevant to enterprise modeling, are discussed briefly below.
Involvement in the development process -- A5
In order to meet the process goal of ownership and agreement, the process group took action to involve representatives of several groups of actors in the organization: The workers union, the information department and the chief engineers. They were invited to either participate actively in the process group or to attend workshops and general presentations.
Choice of medium for the strategy document
The two consultants advised the PG to go for a strategy document developed for a digital medium, i.e., particularly designed for presentation, interaction and distribution using networked computers. This was contrasted with the traditional paper document as a final deliverable. The process group agreed to develop a World Wide Web version of the strategy document to be distributed on the company Intranet.
User's guide for the technology strategy -- O3
The two consultants also stressed the need for comprehensive understanding of the decision making process. Prerequisites for making successful decisions both in the strategy project and in the organization as a whole were claimed to depend upon understanding of both the enterprise and the strategy, combined with professional knowledge. Descriptions of the decision making processes in the company could be included in the strategy document, being a kind of user's guide for the technology strategy. Hence, illustrating the decision making process was a purpose of enterprise modeling (O3).
Appointment of three work groups
The process group decided to establish three work groups to assist in the development of the technology strategy. The criteria for appointing people to the work groups included both experience and knowledge as well as personal traits. The composition of the work groups will be discussed in more detail in section when providing an account of WS1, being the kick-off for stage II and the work group activities.
Establishing a project database using Lotus Notes
A Lotus Notes project database was created, intended to contain background information, deliverables, presentations, etc. for both the process group and the work groups. In addition, the database was to be open to the entire organization, enabling those who wanted to follow the progress of the strategy project to both read documents and provide feedback (A20).

6.3.3 Feedback from the customer

After the kick-off meeting and as a part of the preparations for WS1, the process group worked out a status report to be presented to the BoT to inform them of project progress and planned activities. A part of the presentation was also to get feedback from the BoT as a customer.
At the presentation, the board were generally positive to the work accomplished so far and to the plans for further work. The comments from the BoT most relevant to this thesis concerned the need for improved business understanding and a shared terminology.
Improved business understanding
The board of technology supported that there was a the need for general understanding of the Statoil business, the technology strategy, how Statoil employ technology, and the importance of enterprise understanding to the company. These are clearly objectives of enterprise modeling 51; to improve employees' understanding of the business activities they take part in (O1).
Shared terminology
The BoT agreed upon the need for common definitions and shared understanding of terms in the organization. Still, they were not completely satisfied with the proposals made by the PG, and spent some time discussing alternative definitions.

To conclude, BoT -- as the main customer -- backed the work and the plans of the process group, and in particular the needs for enterprise modeling (being a relevant observation from the perspective of this study).

6.3.4 Concluding the preparation stage

To conclude the preparation stage of the project, the process group had The project plan M1 and the method foil M2 can be viewed as project-level enterprise models, as they describe project reality as it is both perceived and envisioned.