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Behind the scenes of creating VEERUM's user-centric shutdown and turnaround solution: An inside interview

At VEERUM, we're always striving to innovate and improve our solutions to better serve our clients. Today, we’re thrilled to give you an inside look at the development of our new shutdown and turnaround solution. Joining us are Emilie Mazurek, Senior UX Designer, and Ryan Walker, Technical Director, P.Eng., who will share their insights and experiences in creating this user-centric tool.


VEERUM DigitalTWIN for shutdown and turnaround planning

What inspired the creation of the shutdown and turnaround solution? 

Ryan: “The initial business opportunity emerged because clients were already using VEERUM’s platform for shutdown planning and visualization. We saw a chance to make it even better and more streamlined. Shutdowns are mandatory, incredibly expensive events that often don’t go as planned and can exceed budgets by millions per day. Even a 1% cost saving is significant, so we knew we could make a huge impact.”


Emilie: “Through extensive interviews with shutdown planners, we learned there's no clear path to becoming one. Most knowledge comes from on-the-job learning or passing down information within teams. We realized that streamlining the process could ease their workload, making their job simpler while also delivering great business outcomes.”


How did you prioritize user needs and gather feedback throughout the development cycle? 

Emilie: “We started with a thorough discovery phase to truly understand the opportunity. It’s one thing to think you know what people want, but talking to them directly always brings new insights. We spoke to multiple shutdown planners and subject matter experts to pinpoint common frustrations and opportunities. We then created an affinity map to identify larger themes and areas of crossover, helping us understand where we could add the most value. Following this, we used a prioritization matrix to rank priorities based on the impact and effort required. This allowed us to focus on low-effort, high-impact areas first. However, we also pay attention to high effort, high impact ideas, which often bring significant benefits despite requiring more resources.”


Affinity map

Ryan: “We also reached out to existing clients to speak to their subject matter experts. We reached outside of VEERUM as well to service providers who do consulting for shutdown and turnarounds. We then used a tool called Dovetail to record and analyze interviews, survey responses, and feedback, which helped us create summarized insights from our research.”


Can you share a specific challenge the team encountered during the development of this solution and walk us through how you overcame this challenge? 

Emilie: We found that shutdown planners often work in two-week shifts and need a system that’s very straightforward to adopt into their process, without having to come back every two weeks to 're-learn' it. This meant we needed to simplify our interface even further to make it appealing and easy to use, even though it added scope to our project.”


Ryan: From all our research and user interviews, deciding which problem to tackle first was tough because shutdown planning is inherently complex. We wanted to deeply understand the pain points to ensure our technology addressed real needs. We took a product-led approach, focusing on the clients' problems rather than just showcasing our technology.”


How does this solution improve the effectiveness of shutdown planners or contribute to the success of shutdown and turnaround events?

Emilie: It streamlines the planning process, making all information easily accessible in a single source of truth. This accessibility helps ensure schedules stay on track and information is easily shared among team members.”


Ryan: “A metaphor that resonates with me is comparing a shutdown to an iceberg. The execution is just the tip of the iceberg, but the success largely depends on the unseen planning beneath the surface. Most people see the visible part of a shutdown—the actual execution phase—but the real work happens in the planning stages. This involves gathering data, creating schedules, coordinating with teams, and anticipating potential issues. Our solution focuses on enhancing this critical planning phase by providing tools that improve efficiency, accuracy, and collaboration. By addressing the foundational aspects of planning, we help ensure smoother execution and better overall outcomes.” 


The iceberg metaphor for shutdowns

Looking ahead, what future enhancements or updates do you foresee for this solution?

Emilie: Responsive design is a key priority, ensuring our app is usable on any device, whether it's a tablet, phone, or desktop monitor. This is crucial since planners are often in the field and need to input information on the go. We also expect to discover new priorities as we continue to gather user feedback. But the beauty of this approach is that there are things we haven't thought of yet, and as we continue to talk to users and see how they use our app, these needs will become clear to us. Those are the things we definitely want to prioritize because everything should tie back to how people are using the product.”


Ryan: “We’re looking forward to continuing to iterate based on feedback from our users. I’m excited to get this solution into the hands of users and continue to learn from their experiences and drive future enhancements.”


We're incredibly proud of the work our team has put into developing this user-centric shutdown and turnaround solution. To see the solution in action and understand how it can help you plan visually, sign up for a demo today. Experience firsthand how VEERUM is de-risking and optimizing the shutdown and turnaround process.

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