Ampol uses cloud-based software to streamline operations

Ampol has streamlined its operations by creating a central cloud-based SharePoint repository of all the information that every employee might need.

Ampol manages Australia’s largest petrol and convenience network. It refines, imports and markets fuels and lubricants, serving more than 80,000 enterprise customers in markets such as defence, mining and aviation and three million retail customers each week.

It operates 17 terminals, five major pipelines, 57 depots, around 730 company-controlled retail sites, 1,930 branded retail sites and a refinery in Queensland. More than 8,200 people work across the network.

With all of this in mind, Ampol requires strong process management to ensure safety, regulatory compliance, and efficiency. The range of tasks that its staff performs is diverse – from maintaining heavy equipment in the refinery, opening a fuel valve on the service station forecourt, to heating a pie in one of the convenience outlets. All those tasks need to be done safely, efficiently and in accordance with an array of different standards and regulations.

The challenge in the past was that although Ampol had all the materials – more than 5,000 documents in fact – to guide personnel through every task, it could be hard to find the right one fast.

Taking a top-to-bottom review allowed Ampol to totally transform its document management system and ensure it was designed to respond rapidly to user needs and expectations, while ensuring the all-important compliance for the company.

Helen Lau, head of Digital at Ampol, says that rather than simply lifting and shifting the once on-premise document management online, which delivered only limited benefits, Ampol went back to the drawing board and worked with a user experience designer and developer to map out how people actually used the system.

“SharePoint is almost like a Lego block – everyone can set up a SharePoint site in a matter of seconds. But how do we address our user journey?”

Ampol used SharePoint’s search capability to help users find the document that they need. By applying metadata to each document, and speed the search, Ampol has been able to reduce the time taken to find a document from about one minute and a half to almost instantaneous access. Multiply that by the many hundreds of searches each day – typically 800 or more – and there can be significant productivity gains.

Ampol leveraged Microsoft’s Common Data Service to ensure all the workflow history was bought together in a single location with document metadata to enable contextual search and workflow automation.

“We have had zero fail incidents on workflow since we launched and now it’s been probably six months, whereas previously we have about 15 per cent of our workflow bounce or error out,” says Lau.

With the system successfully deployed Lau says: “The big lessons learned from us is actually taking this from an end user perspective rather than us telling them what the system should be.

“This was driven by our UX/UI designer and developer actually spending the time observing and analysing what the user wants to see or what and how they access the information. It’s just a website, if you think about it, but how you lay out that website makes it simple for them to use.

“If you go to our document system now, it almost looks like a Google search – just a massive search bar in the middle and then some headings on the top saying ‘my items’ as in ‘my workflows’ or ‘my document’.”

The transformation of the document management system has streamlined access for users, and injected confidence across Ampol that tasks are being performed correctly, compliant with any codes or regulations, and efficiently.

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