Natural Resources Company Analytics Platform

Breadcrumb Digital was engaged to provision an analytical platform that would enable intuitive near-real time reporting for the asset management function of a natural resources organisation.

The client

A large natural resources organisation that produces and supplies a broad range of commodities to both domestic and international markets.

Their operations span extraction, refining and logistics and their products help secure the energy generation and manufacturing industries.

The challenge

The goal was to provision a strategic data platform that would uplift the reporting and analytical capabilities of the asset management function. The platform would enhance the business function’s decision-making ability by providing more timely access to key datasets and presenting a secure, intuitive interface for asset management reporting. The platform would also serve as a foundational element that would enable a broad range of asset management analytical solutions.

Key challenges:

  • near real-time reporting on operational and financial datasets from transactional systems
  • an intuitive interface for exploratory and structured self-service reporting
  • supporting both long-term trend analysis and ‘live’ operational reporting
  • scalable to handle significant volumes of operational data
  • ensuring teams can only access data relating to their own operations
  • minimising platform operational costs through automation.

The skills

The project required the following skills and competencies:

  • certified Microsoft data expertise including the ability to advise on architectural matters and best practices
  • extensive solution and platform architecture experience including the ability to communicate complex technical aspects and guide stakeholders through key design decisions
  • technical design competencies including the ability to design an automated partition management component that enables the platform to scale as additional models are added
  • experience implementing dynamic row-level security to restrict access to a subset of rows within a table for given users
  • certified PRINCE2 and Scrum practitioners who were able to optimise the project delivery across three discrete phases

The complexity and importance of the project required a principal data consultant as the primary resource, with governance and oversight from Breadcrumb Digital’s technical manager. The solution was co-developed with key subject matter experts from the asset management function and the success of the engagement is directly attributable to a genuine delivery partnership between Breadcrumb Digital and the client.

Michael Cowls

Tony Ketteringham

Jake Waterer

The approach

The engagement followed three high-level phases: discovery, design and build. Each phase consisted of a set of specific activities and resulted in a set of tangible outcomes.

Diagram showing the approach for the enagement comprising of activities and outcomes across three phases

It was critical to obtain a clear understanding of the platform requirements and the current state architecture of the data landscape. A workshop was conducted with key stakeholders during the discovery phase to facilitate this process.

During the design phase, the team executed a series of ‘proof-of-concepts’ with a goal of mitigating specific technical risks and informing any significant architectural decisions. These activities and a technical workshop with stakeholders delivered the primary output of the design phase, the target-state architecture.

An agile framework was used during the build phase to follow the principle of incremental delivery of value. Foundational elements of the platform were established early and then an asset performance data model was migrated to the platform as a high-priority use case while the remaining functionality was built-out.

Documentation for the as-built platform architecture and the platform operational procedures were produced for the client to enable in-house maintenance by subject matter experts.

The outcome

The platform went live in April 2019 and shortly after began hosting three key analytical models for the asset management function.

Key outcomes included:

  • ‘right-sizing’ of platform infrastructure and configuration for optimal performance
  • near-real time exploratory reporting on operational and financial data sets
  • standardised historical and ‘live’ reporting of asset performance
  • a fully-automated process for incrementally loading data in near-real time using a rolling-window pattern
  • a low-maintenance row-level security implementation that ensured that teams could only access data related to their own operations
  • integrated logging with an existing enterprise monitoring application.

Find out more about what we do by taking a look at some of our other projects...