Arrive with an idea, leave with a 3-year plan. Achieve reliability.

TRC gives you access to cutting-edge knowledge & technology

Sign Up

Please use your business email address if applicable

Not Enough Time to Connect

A global marine shipping company has 150 highly educated accountants sitting in front of their computers in an open room the size of a warehouse. Their job is to receive quarterly financial results from Europe, Australia and North America, consolidate the results, and publish financial reports both internally and for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Their tool of choice are spreadsheets, which they use throughout a workflow that weaves throughout the room until the final results are accepted and approved by the senior accountant in charge. The results are approved by the chief financial officer (CFO), then passed to an external publishing house that creates their quarterly reports and year-end annual report.


  • The company has twice as many highly paid accountants than their competitors to do the same job.
  • The accounting group uses spreadsheets throughout their workflow; spreadsheets are not auditable and have no integrity.
  • Errors are caught by an observant accountant and validated by a small team of accountants who stand around one screen to diagnose the source of the problem.
  • The workflow would begin again at Step 1 and proceed.
  • The company does not close monthly, making quarterly reporting more onerous.
  • Due to the focus on budget compliance, vessel managers held back invoices to be paid until the quarterly or annual close passes, then submit their invoices for the next quarter.
  • One day, the company missed their SEC reporting deadline by a day. This was not the fault of its external auditors, but of its cumbersome internal accounting business processes and use of spreadsheets.

In desperation, the company appointed a tight team reporting to an operational vice president (VP) to perform a business process analysis of its financial close procedures. The team traveled with the VP from one reporting center to another throughout the globe. The VP found the handling or double handling of the data was crippling the accountants’ ability to perform their work. The central data repository couldn’t reconcile incoming data appropriately, constantly requiring manual intervention to debug the raw data to process it.

Based on the output of the investigation, the team streamlined the company’s business processes, driving out defects that limited their performance, including their ability to produce internal and external financial results on time. The team selected powerful technology tools to support and empower their people. This expert team traveled to each operational center to train their people using the lessons learned in the initial rollout. Half of the head office accounting staff were promoted to other positions within the company.

Why is this story relevant to reliability and maintenance and how does it connect to digitalization? It’s relevant because this situation threatened the company’s trustworthiness among global investors, its ability to raise capital and its stock price, thereby threatening its viability. This tale from the shop illustrates how reliability and maintenance are part of an overall corporate strategy, with digitalization intended to upgrade and sustain healthy mission-critical assets.

Gail Petersen

Gail is a dynamic award-winning management consultant specializing in the optimization of resources in asset-intensive organizations. She is an innovative strategic thinker with effective tactical skills and a proven track record of success. Gail has worked with executive teams and trades people alike to establish asset management capabilities using an architected approach. Acting in a leadership role for several organizations, Gail has designed new ways of working and developed transformation plans to deliver significant bottom-line results. She is the creator of FORTIG, an Asset Performance Accelerator that unlocks the hidden value in physical assets while moving toward ISO 55000 compliance. Gail is a Certified Reliability Leader and Member of the Institute of Asset Management in the UK. Gail is the coauthor of Embrace Industry 4:0! Embrace Your Way Out of the Jungle

ChatGPT with
Find Your Answers Fast