Digital Twin – Where Do I Start?

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What You Should Pay Attention to before Starting the Implementation Process of a Digital Twin

IT projects are a tricky business. According to a study by the Technical University of Munich, more than half of all IT projects fail. But why is that? The main reasons for the failure of most IT projects are the issues of planning and communication. Companies often underestimate the complexity of the digitization process.

With digitization, the company is opting for a holistic change in its basic structure and business processes. For this reason, the preparation and planning of digitization strategies and IT projects is a must. Unfortunately, the opposite is observed in most companies. Inaccurate goal setting, faulty budget planning, and inappropriate project management methods are all mistakes that lead to the failure of your digitization projects. Even the implementation of a digital twin does not escape these basic rules. However, the failure of IT projects can be avoided by taking simple measures.

Our experience shows that a majority of companies lack the knowledge base for planning digitization projects. With this article, we offer you a guide that you can use to plan your digitization projects. The three most important steps in the development of plans for digitization projects are comprehensively presented to you: target and added-value analysis, process analysis, and process monitoring.

With the right planning, you can not only implement your digital twin successfully but even exceed your goals and expectations.

Step 1: Goal Definition and Added Value Analysis

Many make the mistake of superficial planning. However, planning is essential for the implementation of the Digital Twin to be successful. The benefits of the Digital Twin should be defined in line with your objectives. If this requirement is not met, you will not be able to reap the various benefits of the Digital Twin.

You should pay particular attention to these three steps: goal setting, data provision, and the use of agile planning.

Effektive Zielsetzung

Die Zielsetzung spielt in allen Arten von Projekten eine wichtige Rolle. Wenn Sie kein konkretes Ziel haben, werden die von Ihnen getroffenen Entscheidungen an Effektivität verlieren. Im Fall eines Digitalen Zwillings läuft es nicht anders. Bevor Sie mit der Einführung des Digitalen Zwillings anfangen, sollten Sie sich mit den folgenden Fragen auseinandersetzen:

  • Was möchten Sie mit dem Digitalen Zwilling genau erreichen?
  • Wie passt der Digitale Zwilling in die gesamte Digitalisierungsstrategie Ihres Unternehmens?
  • In welchen Bereichen soll der Digitale Zwilling implementiert werden?

Ihre Ziele werden „smart“, sobald diese spezifisch, messbar, akzeptiert, realistisch und termingebunden sind.

Es gibt eine Vielzahl an Methoden, die Ihnen helfen können, bessere und vor allem erreichbare Ziele festzusetzen. Egal für welche Methode Sie sich entscheiden, die Vorgehensweise bleibt oft dieselbe.
Die Art und Weise, wie Sie Ihre Ziele formulieren ist sehr wichtig. Ziele sollten klar und möglichst einfach ausgedrückt werden. Außerdem sollten Sie sicherstellen, dass Ihre Ziele realisierbar sind.

Eine effektive Zielsetzungsmethode bildet die sogenannte SMART-Methode. Diese Methode hilft Ihnen anhand von 5 Kriterien klare Ziele zu definieren. Ihre Ziele werden „smart“, sobald diese spezifisch, messbar, akzeptiert, realistisch und termingebunden sind.

Auch wenn sich die Anwendung von Zielsetzungsmethoden wie der SMART-Methode im Fall eines Digitalen Zwillings gut eignet, sollten diese nicht als einzige Lösung für Ihre Zielsetzung genutzt werden. Ebenso wichtig ist es, dass Sie agil arbeiten.

Agile Planning and Implementation

When defining your goals, you should not forget the following: the digitalization of your organization demands certain adaptability. Even if your goals should be defined as precisely as possible, you still need to be able to react to changes in the company and the environment. For this reason, we recommend the use of agile project management methods such as “Scrum” or “Kanban”, at DiConneX. The Scrum method does not only correspond to a goal-setting method but is the basis for an agile way of working. Using this method, you increase the efficiency of your team and at the same time increase your adaptability.

The question of the long-term nature of your project is equally important. The Digital Twin should be planned into your processes for the long term.

With the Digital Twin, it is not about optimizing your business processes quickly and in the short term, but about finding a long-term solution for your digitization of buildings. This approach is consistent with the precise definition of your goals. Once again: the Digital Twin is not a short-term solution! The implementation of the Digital Twin is a continuous process and accordingly requires careful planning.

Ordering Data

A digital twin is a platform-independent 3D model that virtually represents a real object. Furthermore, its creation is based on the availability and evaluation of a variety of data. The data collected during the digitization process serves to link the real building with its digital image. Moreover, this networking of the digital twin is not a one-time thing, but an ongoing process. This ensures that data and thus also your digital twin always remain up-to-date. The effectiveness of the Digital Twin is therefore based on the networking of an efficient data management system.

As the British newspaper put it so beautifully in one of its articles: “Data is the new oil”. And we agree with this claim because data is the most important asset for your company. Successful implementation of your digitization project requires good preparation. The data affected by the project should be carefully maintained and structured in advance so that proper data management can be carried out later. You must verify the most relevant data and information for your project and evaluate it for the use of the digital twin.

Therefore, you should ask yourself the following questions before you start your project:

  • What data do I need and in what quality?
  • How will I collect, evaluate and analyze the data and information?
  • Do I have an efficient management and processing system for my data?

Step 2: Process Analysis

Process analysis forms an essential part of agile project planning. A digital twin plays an important role in the holistic transformation of your business processes. Depending on what your goals are, different business processes will be affected by the digitization process. Conducting a process analysis helps to create complete, detailed, and correct documentation about your processes to create a unified understanding. This documentation forms the basis for the transformation of existing processes and the distribution of roles and responsibilities within your organization.

In addition, process analysis is used to evaluate both old and new processes. In addition, process analysis is an important tool for measuring the success of your digitization project. There are four steps to carrying out a process analysis: process identification, process recording, process representation, and process evaluation.

The implementation of the digital twin requires the adaptation of unsuitable processes. With the process analysis, you get useful data on the individual processes and learn which process needs to be adapted and which does not. All digitization projects are different.

Depending on the project scope and organizational structure, process adaptation can either happen faster or slower. Some companies only need a partial change in their organization to fulfill the project. In concrete terms, this means that not all processes need to be adapted, but only a limited part of them. This speeds up the digitization process considerably.

Most of the time, however, the digitization project is a complex undertaking. In some companies, the process structure can be set up in such a way that it cannot be implemented in the current state. In such cases, the holistic organizational structure must be viewed disruptively. This naturally takes more time but is imperative for the successful implementation of the digitization project.

Step-by-Step Guided Transformation of Your Processes

The use of the digital twin can sometimes be successful in the first phases of its introduction. Therefore, we often recommend our clients to implement the Digital Twin step by step. In concrete terms, this means that the implementation starts with “smaller” processes – e.g. with sub-processes – and is only extended to the “larger” processes at the end.

In addition, a step-by-step implementation simplifies your employees’ acceptance of the project. Digitalization creates many challenges, including for employees, who can quickly be overwhelmed by it. With a step-by-step implementation of the digital twin, the preparation of your employees is much easier. You must never forget that you are carrying out a change process with the digital twin. Change processes are long phases and cannot be accomplished in the short term. Therefore, your employees should be supported throughout the entire project.

Step-by-step implementation of the digital twin offers you interesting advantages.

In the long term, however, a holistic transformation of both your processes and your organizational structure should be achieved.

Step 3: Process Monitoring

The Evaluation of the Costs Saved by the Digital Twin

With the use of the digital twin, the management costs in IT and information management become higher. The various cost factors in the implementation process include:

  • The generation of the digital twin using the mapping and laser scanning process
  •  The networking of the generated 3D model with the creation of a software-independent platform
  • The organizational and process adjustments that are required for the implementation of the digital twin
  • The regular maintenance of the digital twin (management costs)

The question of costs is often cited by many as a reason why they do not want to implement a Digital Twin. As already mentioned above, a Digital Twin forms a long-term solution for the digitization of companies. Accordingly, the goal of its use is a long-term cost reduction. However, in the context of project planning, it is difficult to predict how much you will save by using the Digital Twin..

The question of costs is often cited as a hurdle for the use of the digital twin. In the long run, however, you create a permanent cost reduction with the Digital Twin.

This phenomenon can be explained by the fact that most companies have no empirical values ​​at their disposal at the beginning of the project.

Let’s take the example of a company that wants to use a digital twin to locate its goods and devices. The digital twin is intended to help the company’s employees in the future to find mobile work equipment more quickly using localization. So the goal is to reduce search times and employee movements. But has it been recorded at all so far how much time employees have spent searching? Since it will hardly be possible for the company to record the actual state of the search times, there is no benchmark value to assess the digital twin. Nevertheless, there is agreement that the digital twin virtually eliminates search times. You can therefore trust that the Digital Twin will create new possibilities and disrupt existing processes, even without empirical values.

This example shows that evaluating the potential cost savings can be very difficult without detailed experience. Thus, there are use cases that at first glance do not offer any monetary advantages. See digitization as an opportunity to rethink and throw old processes overboard.

Nevertheless, an evaluation of previous processes is often possible and savings can be precisely determined through process representation in planning and monitoring.

Evaluation of the Costs Saved by the Digital Twin

The term “process monitoring” is understood to mean the implementation of a target / actual comparison analysis. This involves comparing the old processes with the new digital processes.

The deviation between the costs incurred before and after the use of the digital twin can thus be evaluated to calculate the return on investment (ROI). Depending on the case, and due to the long-term impact of the digital twin on processes, implementation costs can be offset either in the short term or in the medium term. In a study conducted in 2018, the American research company LNS Research showed that 50% of the companies surveyed recorded a positive ROI within 3 months and 2 years.

In the long term, the process optimization created with the Digital Twin will significantly reduce your costs. For this reason, you should perceive the costs incurred with the implementation of the Digital Twin as an investment. With a little patience, you will reach your goals. You will most likely exceed it.

Get Holistic Project Support from DiConneX

DiConneX is the only German company that offers its customers holistic support for the digital twin. We develop customized strategies and support our clients through all stages of digitization, from planning to implementation.

There is a lot to consider if you want to transform your business processes with the digital twin. With our support, you can benefit from many years of expertise – and work with us to create the perfect digitization plan.

We conduct in-depth analyses of the organizational structure and processes. Thus, we can offer you suitable methods that ensure a successful implementation of the Digital Twin.

We provide you with a suitable offer for each step of the project. We help you to define concrete and attainable goals and support you until the goals are achieved and even beyond. The creation and implementation of digital twins is an intensive and complex process. The selection of qualified support plays a decisive role in the successful implementation of your project.

What You Achieve with Us

With the support from DiConneX you will:

  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of the technology ecosystem
  • Increase your innovative power
  • Create awareness for change
  • Change the corporate culture positively 
  • Accelerate key decisions
  • Create BIM strategies and implementation plans
  • Build BIMLABs and DigitalLabs
  • Build digital teams
  • Increase your growth and secure your future viability

If you have any further questions about the Digital Twin and our services, please feel free to write to us.

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