Silverhorse Technologies grew from a predecessor formed in 2002 by CEO Raymond Weeda. The company specialises in software that transforms how large-scale operations and complex projects manage and report information for improved productivity and efficiency.
Weeda and his partners identified a crucial problem on projects – management did not have the transparency over business processes to realise when they were not being followed. They built the technology to provide a solution to that problem.
“Our concept was to allow companies to change a business process really easily and still maintain integrity in the audit trail,” said Weeda.
The Connect solution was initially rolled out in risk and quality management systems to government and age care industries in Australia, but it didn’t take off until Weeda began targeting large infrastructure projects.
Large scale projects
Weeda identified that in these huge projects, halfway through completion the situation can be vastly different to what was envisaged at the outset and firms need to be able to adapt their business processes on the fly. For a desalination plant, a tunnel, an oil processing plant or an FPSO vessel there are complex processes coming together that often have to be redesigned in situ if they don’t work practically.
“That is where the technical integrity of a project starts falling apart, the model you are using to collect the information doesn’t match what is actually being built.
“That is our big entrée, we can change it on the fly, our competitors can take months to set up, we take one or two weeks and to change those business processes takes minutes and the update is on the internet ready to use.”
Silverhorse’s technology is based on a ‘metadata’ model to provide value, efficiency, transparency, versatility and cost reduction.
For Weeda, the real successes that the Silverhorse product brings to a project are: ensuring projects are completed on time, every level of the project being more transparent, and every process and work flow having increased accountability in the audit trail.
“If you’re a project director you can see the progress and you get a balanced scorecard view of the world, if you’re a project manager you get a much more granular view and if you’re a supervisor you can see how your team are working towards that scorecard approach.”
Another element of Silverhorse’s product is that by providing a bespoke process solution in metadata their customers can reuse their business process models on several projects.
“It’s a way for our customers to suck corporate knowledge out of the project, it means they are less reliant on the hero to get the project over the line and more reliant on putting good processes in place.”
In one of Silverhorse’s most successful applications of the technology, a contractor for Woodside used it for corrosion maintenance. To begin with, the subcontractor on the project had no concrete processes in place but had the expertise in doing the job. Silverhorse implemented repeatable processes and the contractor went from taking four weeks to pull a maintenance schedule together down to just four hours. According to Weeda, the business process solution resulted in substantial cost savings, efficiency gains, a lot more control. The overall result was that hundreds of thousands of dollars were saved at the project.
The strength of the repeatability and efficiency measures in the technology is all based on the thinking behind metadata. Customers can identify any asset within their processes and define it in the system through collecting and inputting information on that ‘class’. They can then be adapted and extended for a variety of future processes, of any description, due to the versatile and bespoke nature of the technology.
“It’s fundamentally a different way of thinking, every time we implement a process we generify it. We take out the major points into a layer of abstraction and that’s what the metadata describes. It’s data that describes data.”
Whereas traditional solutions would take time to change a process on the system, Silverhorse’s solution requires zero programming to do so – it uses the same piece of interpretative code to determine the new information. This method experiences no bugs in the system and also much more speed.
“If you look at us compared to the traditional approach, the real difference is we do things at project speed. If a client requests something at 10am, by lunchtime it’s updated and available to them.”
Weeda explained the success Silverhorse is experiencing focusing on the large scale projects. In a world where companies are looking for efficiency and productivity gains, Weeda believes it is technology such as his that they are really looking for. There’s no big initial capital outlay due to the subscription-based business model and he says it has proven processes in place that improve efficiency and productivity. It works so well for big industry because it is built around the customer having repeatable processes that are efficient, and also having the ability to change them when they need to with low costs.
“People are looking for efficiency improvements and you can get measurable gains by putting our type of technology in place.”
Because of the transparency the Connect solution offers, Silverhorse has experienced some challenges with different business cultures during the implementation stage. Although the transparency and efficiency measures give you strong governance and project integrity, some organisations have initially struggled with the accountability of actions.
However, on the upside this level of transparency can set up a framework for a more collaborative relationship between the contractor and the client. The client can now see all aspects of the project including the contractor’s processes. With that knowledge comes shared responsibility so when the contractor makes a variation, the client will have seen it coming.
“The client has foresight. In previous projects the contractor knew the problem was coming and it became a political situation about what to do with that knowledge. Now because the client can see it as well, there is joint responsibility.”
When this responsibility is shared and works well clients tend to reuse the same subcontractors. In Weeda’s experience, it usually builds strong working relationships and that is hugely beneficial.
Weeda outlines how Silverhorse is flourishing through the relationship it has built with its own partners and how the technology enables them to ensure project completion.
“Our key partnerships include large and small EPC’s, other software providers that have tools that complement what we do, consulting organisations and more recently training organisations in the hazardous area space. There are quite a number of organisations that use us to make sure they get the job done.”
Currently mainly operating in Australia with some offshore projects too, Weeda is now looking to expand the market Silverhorse is operating in worldwide. They have existing interests in Scotland, Canada and the US, while Weeda sees real opportunity in South East Asia and openings in both Saudi Arabia and Russia. The Silverhorse boss has changed the sales process too, there is no longer a Silverhorse salesperson knocking on the door.
“We are creating alliances with engineering organisations and consultancy companies and using them as vehicles to get into our target markets. It gives us more leverage too as we train them and they train the rest of the client base.”
Weeda is trying to establish more alliance partnerships on different levels. He is targeting large firms with designing and engineering departments to build relationships with, for example, Advisian, the consulting arm of Worley Parsons. Similarly smaller engineering companies with solutions that complement Silverhorse are being brought in as well.
Looking forward, Weeda’s vision is to see Silverhorse Technologies in a global market with the Connect solution being the engineering process management tool of choice.
“The vision is about becoming that tool of choice to manage business processes really efficiently,” concluded Weeda.