Case Study : Transforming finance / BP
BP is one of the world’s largest companies. From the deep sea to the desert, from rigs to retail, they deliver energy products and services to people...
Case Study — BP
BP is one of the world’s largest companies. From the deep sea to the desert, from rigs to retail, they deliver energy products and services to people around the world.
BP has a diverse portfolio across businesses, resource types and geographies. It has UK-based headquarters and operates in 73 countries across six continents, employing 73,000 people.
As the world demands more energy, it also demands that it be produced and delivered in new ways, with fewer emissions. BP is meeting this dual challenge by adapting to change and working towards the transition to renewable energy, and to make all forms of energy cleaner and better.
Such an evolving business and fast-changing industry requires a finance function that adapts to provide the professional support it needs.
BP’s Global Business Services (GBS) provides support to a wide range of distinct businesses across the BP group, via global functions including finance, HR, procurement, customer service and global solutions.
Finance teams in BP also operate centres of excellence for tax, treasury and audit. With several thousand finance staff globally, driving change requires vision, planning and technological innovation.
We spoke to Graham Collins, FCMA, CGMA, VP of Digital Transformation, and Frances Howat, ACMA, CGMA, Head of Capability Development for finance.
Placing finance at the heart of our evolving business
BP needs systems and processes to allow finance to better drive strategic business decision-making. It is an important part of BP’s Modernisation and Transformation programme. Launched in 2016, the programme is enabling the company to adapt to rapid change within the energy sector.
The transformation of finance is being achieved by changing mindset and becoming more agile and embracing digital. Implementing such wide-reaching change without causing unnecessary disruption requires prioritising faster, more effective decision-making and focusing on creating value.
"Transformation is more than just a new system that allows you to do the same thing a bit less clunkily than in the past. That’s not a transformation, that’s just normal progress. To transform, you need to think about how you can do things dramatically differently."
Graham Collins, FCMA, CGMA, VP of Digital Transformation
Mindset: Creating the
Safety is at the heart of everything BP does. We do this by engaging all employees in the part they play in sustaining a safe environment, and ensuring they can raise any concerns and know they will be heard. BP constantly works to instil and support a culture of prioritising safety above all else.
BP has created an environment that promotes continuous learning. Using a variety of approaches, from the classroom and virtual instructor-led training to online courses, individuals are given space to manage their learning. Some regions operate fortnightly ‘Growth Fridays’ where employees are encouraged to undertake online learning or learn new skills from their peers. Senior managers are encouraged to participate in activities and share their experiences so that learning and growth are constant and occurs at all levels.
Agility: New approaches
to talent management
BP’s new approach to talent management is workforce-led and focusses on opening new opportunities to employees.
"We need very different talent in the future than we’ve needed in the past. The next big idea could come from anywhere in the organisation."
Frances Howat, ACMA, CGMA, Head of Capability Development
The company’s capability strategy involves moving away from the linear career pathways typical of large organisations, in which individuals only progress once they have ticked off a set of experiences and job roles. The digital age is changing the way that teams and organisations are led. While people managers are still needed, some individuals become subject-matter experts and may not need to go through the traditional management route.
Digital: Building data
Within the upstream segment, moving to a single instance of enterprise resource planning system and standardising data formats are unlocking further opportunities for the business. An organisation-wide digital-skills framework has been developed to identify future skills in areas such as agile working, design thinking, data visualisation and big data.
Individuals identifying and addressing their own future needs largely drive digital upskilling. Employees have expressed a clear preference for digital visualisation, analysis and communication tools, all of which have seen a growth in use across the business as their value is recognised.
Having identified a need for data science skills, BP is looking to channel workforce enthusiasm for skills development by offering online Python coding courses. Finance employees can complete these courses over a three-month period before taking an assessment. Those who perform well are invited to a 3-week intensive data science bootcamp, using real-life cases and data.
The bootcamp helps employees to immediately start adding value to the wider business by contributing to internal projects to explore and develop their new skills. This experience then leads on to further development opportunities, helping to create a natural process of constant improvement.
“We’re building up to get to about 10–15% of our organisation having a good solid grounding in data science from one bootcamp programme, and then maybe 2 or 3% will become subject-matter experts.”
Graham Collins, FCMA, CGMA, VP of Digital Transformation
Through its innovative open-access approach to training, BP’s data science bootcamp programme has created valuable expertise across the organisation. There has been a lot of interest from GBS colleagues keen to develop their own skills and add value to the business.
Increased digital agility is reflected in the work of the GBS organisation as it matures. Robotic process automation, for example, has facilitated a move away from a transactional focus, allowing finance teams to reengineer business processes and contribute more effectively to strategic decision-making.
From an external perspective, applying predictive analytics to the supply chain has transformed the way BP anticipates demand at fuel stations. This mitigates the risk of stock-outs, improving relationships with retailers and ultimately providing a better customer experience.
BP’s learning about transformation success
• Think strategically and set your ‘North Star’ — but don’t think and plan for too long.
• Think about the human elements of change — mindset, agility and digital skills capability — as well as the end technology.
• Bring all the organisation on your journey.
• Be inclusive — listen for the quietest voice in the room.