Oil-drilling model

Innovation to enable change

What is oil-drilling model?

The oil drilling model is a method to discover and design a combination of software and business change that has strategic potential. Using the resulting integrated architecture, the software team implements the software as they always did and the business team implements changes to business. The combination of software and business change helps generate targeted strategic outcomes.

That too many companies jump in feet first without fully assessing fitness for purpose or potential strategic opportunities seems to be at the heart of what you’re saying – and I think that’s right. C-suite executive



Interestingly, the oil-drilling model is an outgrowth of PCD or business process centric user interface design. Pradeep Henry created the oil-drilling model’s first version around 2005. It was called process-efficient technology (PET) because the focus then was on creating efficient business processes. How did Henry turn PET into a strategy-driven method? An important input was executive education at Columbia Business School NYC and reviews by Columbia faculty and executive participants.


Oil companies no longer drill before they have first located oil. Likewise, organizations should no longer commit to implement software before they have first ensured that they have a combination of software and business change having strategic potential. The oil-drilling model borrows from oil industry’s 3 crucial steps that span the broad tasks of discovery and design:

  1. Locate. Discover a combination of business processes collectively called reservoir that has the potential – if redesigned in specific ways – to generate targeted strategic outcomes
  2. Prepare. Purposefully redesign the reservoir and while doing so discover software – to realize the strategic potential identified
  3. Drill. Design the software's business side, which comprises business processes to be encapsulated in the software and user interface.

Principles and templates

Seven principles guide the execution of the oil-drilling model. The method also has templates for capturing organizational strategic agenda, etc.


Oil-drilling model is executed by an experienced business analyst trained in the strategy-driven discovery and design method.

Who is using the oil-drilling model?

The oldest precursor of the oil-drilling model (see “Origins” above) has been used in a dozen projects for global companies. Credentials below suggest interest in business-centric software methods.

Related publications

Links retrieved July 16, 2016

Title: Strategy Translation
Date: Since January 2016
Publication: CIO, USA
Web: Click

Title: Software Practice for the Business Technology Age: Lessons from Oil-Drilling
Date: August 2013
Publication: PreScouter Journal, USA
Web: Click

Title: Aligning Technology With Business Strategy
Date: October 5, 2009
Publication: Columbia Business School Executive Education website
Publisher: Columbia Business School, USA
Web: Click

Title: Time to Move from IT to BT
Date: January 2011
Publisher: Idea Connection, USA
Web: Click

Title: Process-Centricity and the Business Analyst’s New Role
Date: January 2010
Publication: Business Process Trends, USA
Web: Click

Title: Business & Technology blog
Date: New post every couple of weeks or so
Web: Click

Invited speeches

Title: The IT-to-BT Move
Date: August 19, 2010
Organizer: Hindustan Institute of Technology & Science
City: Chennai, India
Web: HindustanUniv.ac.in

Title: The IT-to-BT Move
Date: August 17, 2011
Organizer: Saveetha Engineering College
City: Chennai, India
Web: Saveetha.ac.in

Title: Innovation & Business Technology
Date: August 9, 2011
City: Bangalore, India
Organizer: VOLVO IT
Web: VolvoIT.com

Title: Business Technology & The Power of Innovation
Date: March 15, 2011
City: Chennai, India
Organizer: TiE (global organization fostering entrepreneurship)
Web: TiE.org
Note: Henry co-presented this seminar with Muthu Singaram

Title: Business Process Centric Software Development
Date: March 26, 2010
City: Cochin, India
Organizer: Nasscom (Chamber of Commerce for IT in India)
Web: Nasscom.in

Business process management conference

A fundamental in the oil-drilling model is the bringing together of technology and business change. Business change is typically in terms of process innovation. Henry, supported by his team at Cognizant, featured Business Process Management (BPM) pioneer Mark McGregor at a BPM conference in Mumbai, India (this conference was also the first in the country on this topic).