Points of View

Process industry transformations must find a unique way of being agile

Jul 16, 2019 Josh Matthews

Failing fast is not a luxury that process industries can afford. Intense capital requirements, rigorous quality assurance (QA) processes, to name only 2 challenges, mean that all sectors of the process industry—oil refining, cement, steel, and the rest—are stuck in their old production ways. Only 3 out of McKinsey’s 16 manufacturing “Lighthouse” sites can even be loosely classed as process production—despite process industries contributing over 50% of manufacturing’s $35 trillion global output. HFS has documented the need for the process industry’s unique challenges to be recognized if they hope to digitally revolutionize. Now process industry leaders must fundamentally change their conversations with technology vendors and strategy service providers. They must find a unique way of adopting agile—or continue on the slope into obsolescence.

With its emphasis on continuous learning, agile ensures and ingrains process quality and accelerates pilot scale-up processes. Traditional “waterfall” development models, on the other hand, work through disconnected phases that are passed on to QA at the end. Many companies claim to be “truly agile,” but in reality, they have merely created hybrid models or “mini waterfalls.”


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