With the US onshore rig count level holding at ~1,710, 2014 is shaping up to be another banner year for North American oilfield services companies. Are you capturing your share of this business?
Most oilfield professionals we engage with are coming to the realization that they’re leaving money on the table. Their growth is being stunted or unrealized due to antiquated processes and systems. The data capture tools and processes currently in the field are simply no longer adequate to meet their future growth plans and the elevated expectations of their clients.
In this blog, I’ll address how using paper-based forms for time-keeping and work-orders in the field – while familiar and convenient – slow down time-sensitive workflows, hinder reporting, and create data accuracy and integrity issues that negatively impact the payroll and invoicing work streams. I will also address how a Field Data Capture solution solves these challenges.
Poor data quality – the scourge of Finance and AR
Do you rely on hours-worked documentation from field operations staff to drive invoicing and payroll? Our services industry clients do, so we know the pain of managing invoicing and payroll when that data is missing, incomplete, inaccurate, or untimely. The impact of poor data quality for hours-worked ripples throughout the organization from the CFO’s concern for Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) to the Accounts Receivable and Payroll clerks that are striving to do their jobs accurately and efficiently. Electronic field data capture can add scalability and efficiency in the back office AR and Payroll departments.
Five critical questions for AR and payroll teams
AR and Payroll staff must always be on the ball due to the cyclical rhythm of the processes they own in the business. Whether your processes execute as frequently as weekly or as infrequently as monthly, the obligations of these departments do not change. As a services firm, AR and Payroll are arguably two of the most critical back office functions. These questions will help you assesthe effectiveness of your own processes:
- Does your data capture process differentiate between hours billed and hours paid? In order to ensure accuracy in the back office activities, it is critical that your system of record clearly distinguish between hours to be invoiced and hours to be paid (especially for hourly employees).
- How long does it take for your AR/payroll departments to get notified once work is performed? Is it weeks, days, hours, minutes or seconds? Yes, “seconds” is a possible answer, if you have a mobile-enabled electronic field data capture system in place.
- How long does your back office take to process invoices or payroll once they’ve received time records? e time records until invoices or payroll are processed? How much time does your back office staff spend performing data entry, rekeying into multiple systems or manually creating Excel files? Automation of the static and repetitive invoice generation and payroll processing functions can make your back office staff much more efficient so they can get more done in less time. In our experience, automation solutions never replace jobs but rather they let the existing staff be more effective. The efficiency created by automation reduces the need to hire additional staff as the business scales up. Additionally, an often overlooked benefit is that automation keeps the staff you do have much happier with their jobs. The productivity increases enabled by automation allow humans to focus on the non-automatable processes that naturally occur all the time that cannot be automated away.
- How often do you receive complaints about inaccurate invoices or payroll inaccuracies? Manual human processes are naturally error-prone even for the most diligent clerk. Automating manual processes means that you set the business rules one-time, up-front and don’t have to worry about the process or math being done the same every cycle.
- Is there one critical person in your business process that controls everything? If you’re AR or payroll clerk goes on vacation, gets sick or retires, are your business processes able to execute without interruption? Process automation reduces the risk to the organization by allowing the business to continue executing as usual even when the personnel change.
Attend our free seminar to learn more!
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that arming your field workers with new data capture software and mobile devices will dramatically improve information flow between the field and your back-office, resulting in more efficient and scalable processes that enable rather than hinder your workforce from supporting more clients and work. While I focused specifically on time keeping and work orders, a robust Field Data Capture solution also provides similar benefits when creating inspection reports and asset integrity management.
If you are interested in learning more about how to jump start your own Field Data Capture improvement initiative and are already starting to consider whether a custom and/or packaged data capture solution is the right approach, I highly recommend that you attend our FREE lunch seminar at III Forks on July 17th where Nate Richards will talk provide an overview on Field Data Capture Solutions for Oilfield services.