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29.09.2020

The human factor - our secret weapon in MOM project

Jyrki Minkkinen
Senior Business Architect, Program Beagle at Neste

Over the course of one year our Neste team delivered an IT system that is live now in over 30 sites in the Baltics, Sweden and Finland. We did 10 monthly roll-outs of a complex SAP integrated real-time solution which covers logistics movements in our global supply chain.

Minimum service breaks, harmonized processes, great business feedback. This has been a real success story! And the key ingredient, as always, has been close cooperation and true partnership where all the people involved have been willing and ready to go the extra mile for each other.  

Customize the project model 

Several years ago, Neste embarked on a large-scale ERP project that integrated SAP into our core technology stack (SAP story) At the same time, we realized that our current legacy Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) needed to be replaced. 

These are systems that we use to manage physical operations for trucks, vessels, trains and tank inventory management as well as for quality and traceability management. New foundation was needed to support our business growth. And due to the business criticality of these systems, we had to be wise about the team set-up and involve only partners who understand the core of our business and the specifics of our day-to-day work.  

Development on the project began in the summer of 2018 and the first go-live was in Q1 2019. These types of projects are vast and complex and ours was no exception. This was a multi-vendor joint venture with five key vendors in addition to experts from Neste. Nortal was selected as our main partner to develop and roll-out this new solution. The new system we created with this dedicated team was named DistX.  

At the start of the project we spent a lot of time together choosing the right project model. We wanted to find the right balance in governance which would support our collaboration and be systematic but agile at the same time. The model we chose had many familiar but essential project governance methods, but it requires experience and leadership to use the right building blocks in the right way. Although latest DevOps practices, Kubernetes clusters in the cloud and containerized services are essential part of delivery, this doesn’t however explain why our project has moved to the next level and how our team has become a dream team. 

What was our secret recipe? 

I believe that the real key to our success has been that we have brought Neste together with Nortal to create one excellent team, including IBM and Capgemini as well as other partners. This created an environment where every individual can support each other with their knowledge and experience. This has also given us the opportunity to build really strong personal relationships and commitment to the success of the project. We are proud of what we have achieved together.

In my experience creating this kind of bond requires three main elements which we have always tried to follow: 

 Respect every individual 

 Trust 

 Openness 

This must be genuine. You cannot fake it or learn it from books. It must come from people themselves and it must be built into all daily project activities and cooperation with all the stakeholders all the time. These elements help to create an extended team where everybody can have the courage to fail, ask for help and express themselves. This is especially important in high risk projects to avoid major pitfalls. 

High risk projects require emotional intelligence!

We need to listen to each other as there is wisdom in our team's collective experience.  And if we add some good humor to mix, then we have a recipe for success.

MOM projects are quite difficult and “industrial” in nature, but I think that we have been able to bring some human factors to the game and it has helped us go the extra mile. This sounds simple but it happens too rarely in practice. I have had the honor to be part of this great journey with many excellent people and I am very grateful to everybody involved. The journey is not over however as the next sites in Europe and Asia are waiting for our system. Our well-rehearsed dream team is ready for the next go-lives.

Written by
Jyrki Minkkinen
Senior Business Architect, Program Beagle at Neste

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