How Does Software Age?

Out of date software is just as useless as a pile of old computer parts. Thankfully, aging software doesn't have to end up in the scrap heap.

Software applications age over time like any business asset. Unlike tangible assets, such as physical equipment, software deprecation tends to be less easily identifiable or well-defined. Old software tends to “fly under the radar” in businesses, and as a result the associated risks and opportunities are not addressed in a timely manner. Ultimately, all software has to be rewritten in some form eventually to extend its useful life. Software ages in many different ways but today I want to explore one key way that tends to be easy to overlook when understanding the application development landscape. Continue reading “How Does Software Age?”

Infographic: Office 365 and SharePoint Online Adoption in the Oil & Gas Industry

Microsoft Office 365 lets you invest more capital into your wells and less on IT infrastructure. Imagine a world where you don’t have to worry about upgrades or managing servers and network infrastructure.

Wondering if it’s time to move your oil and gas enterprise to the cloud?

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Let’s face it, oil and gas is lagging other industries when it comes to embracing the cloud.
Click here to read Carol Donnelly’s latest article about the pros and cons of Microsoft Office 365 adoption for oil and gas producers, pipeline operators, and service providers.

Increase The Scalability And Efficiency Of Your Oilfield Services With Field Data Capture Software

Oilfield Workers on Laptop iiDon’t let your current time-keeping and work-order processes restrict your growth potential. Streamline and automate these critical tasks with field data capture software.

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.

LEARN MORE

GETTING STARTED VIDEO:  ELECTRONIC FIELD TICKETING

CASE STUDY: NA PIPELINE SERVICES COMPANY INCREASES OPERATIONAL VISIBILITY

SOLUTION PAGE: ELECTRONIC FIELD TICKETING CONNECTS FIELD TO CORNER OFFICE

Field Data Capture and Disaster Recovery

In January, Entrance hosted a lunch and learn, “Field Data Capture for Oil and Gas Service Companies.” Entrance’s president, Nate, covered some of the key considerations that companies out in field should cover before implementation.

During the Q&A portion, one of the big topics of conversation was around toughbooks. Field work is characteristically rough, so choosing and maintaining the right devices can be difficult.

Generally, a basic laptop is not sufficient for handling fieldwork. In this situation, many organizations weigh the costs and benefits of tablet versus a Toughbook.

Both can be a good fit, but considerations like cost, computing power, and size can all make a big difference in the final evaluation. In particular, organizations should be careful not to let the popular appeal of devices like the iPad to sway their overall evaluation of available devices.

Disaster Recovery

Regardless of the device your company decides to go with, a disaster recovery plan is important for maintaining productivity in the field. No matter how well-made your Toughbook, devices go down and get lost. Particularly in the case of a tablet, damage is consideration because they are easily breakable.

Without a recovery plan, your people can end up without a device for several days or more. The cost in lost productivity alone is enough to make this an unacceptable outcome.

The solution? Simple as it may sound, have back-ups on-hand that can quickly be deployed to your team. Be sure to address how to accomplish this even when workers are in very remote areas.

Choosing the right devices and having a plan for managing them is important for companies across the value chain, from upstream all the way to service. For more, watch the field data capture presentation from SlideShare. You can also find out about upcoming lunch and learns here.

Data Management & Technology: Secret to Oil & Gas Growth

Data Management the Key for Unconventional Success

Data management  and new technology is lowering the risk level for unconventional oil and gas E&P. This has become apparent in recent years and is a radical change from former risk levels of investment.

Computational analysis is at the heart of risk reduction and the ease with which entrepreneurs in this field are now finding funds. is more important than ever before.

Technology drives analytics for better governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) applications. The amount of Oil and Gas information is rapidly increasing.

At the same time mobility, cloud, and Big Data analytics offer opportunities to effectively harness the way information is managed, used, and distributed enterprise wide.

Entrepreneurial Gains

Mitigating risk in oil and gas operations at any part of the cycle from upstream, midstream, and to downstream ultimately leads to entrepreneurial gains.

Data Management for Oil and Gas: MobileEnterprise wide management of information and intelligence drives success. Consistent, contextualized, and integrated information that is available immediately and on-the-go is required to support most operations.

Collaboration tools are also necessary for communication both within an enterprise and between enterprises, because expertise is required across the globe.

The complexity of drilling and other oil and gas operations is such that the ability for engineering, design and applications experts to work together is essential.

Teams rely on high-end 3D visualization and collaboration rooms that allow members anywhere to access the same data, models, and tools.

Aside from the need to bring in experts from many areas, including field services, seismic, drilling, exploration and production, team members can also access detailed descriptions of the events leading up the present.

Those engaged in making decisions for exploratory wells can obtain a full brief of both information and through collaboration with essential personnel. Software developments at E&P companies are at the heart of production improvements.

Technology Improvements

Research in unconventional oil and gas technology is ongoing industrywide. GTI was awarded $6.2 million by the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America to develop and design new techniques in support of environmentally safe and economically efficient hydraulic fracturing projects.

This work is derivative of an innovative technique recently completed at Marcellus Shale involving a field-based industry collaborative R&D project.

A new technology for natural gas purification uses a hollow fiber contactor design that offers significant advantages over traditional technologies, ultimately reducing gas purification costs significantly.

This technology can be applied to pre and post combustion carbon capture and is applicable for use in floating LNG platforms.

Only recently has there been a holistic strategy for managing risk and compliance across functional domains and the lines of business. Today, with heightened regulation and increasingly complex risks, technology is more important than ever before.

Conventionally, upstream operations have struggled to overcome segregation of data. Now integration and knowledge sharing are driving industry advances.

For more on how oil and gas is changing, read this article on the evolving role of IT…

What is Acidizing?

What is Acidizing?

Acidizing is a well stimulation or rehabilitation method that consists of pumping acid (usually hydrochloric acide HCl) into the well to dissolve all materials preventing the permeability of the formation.

How is it important to us?

Acidizing can restore and improve the well productivity by creating new flow channels.

There are two main types of acidizing treatments related to  the pumping pressure and acid injection rate:

  • Matrix acidizing which is used to clean up formation damages caused by drilling, completion, and work-over fluids and solids. Acid is injected into the well at pressure below the fracture pressure;
  • Fracture acidizing (acid fracing) which is performed to enhance the well production. The reservoir is hydraulically fractured and then the fracture faces are enlarged by injecting acid at pressure above the fracture pressure.

Acidizing injection

Bad Oil and Gas Software: Key Concerns

Optimizing Oil and Gas Software

Oil and gas software is an essential component for businesses in the energy industry. It allows them respond to problems more quickly, review historical data more easily and send reports to managers automatically.

Oil and gas software also allows enables the implementation of  a formal process for tracking production as opposed to the collection of spreadsheets that has traditionally been used in this industry.

However, poor oil and gas software can also create problems, which may be classified into the areas of assets, production and revenue.

Assets

Oil and gas software can cause a failure to pay out on a well interest. This can occur when the software Oil and Gas Software: Field Data Capturecalculates the royalty improperly, causing the balance to fall below the minimum pay requirement for that account.

Poor software can also cause a business to over bid or under bid on an asset by miscalculating the expected value of that asset. The primary factor that determines an asset’s value is the current price of crude oil or natural gas, which can fluctuate greatly over time.

Political factors can also have a significant effect on asset valuation, especially in areas characterized by civil unrest. Technological improvements can increase an asset’s value in the future by reducing the recovery costs.

Production

Software can also create problems with production such as inaccurate estimates of production and reduction in actual production. These problems include double-counting the output of one or more wells, causing your company’s total production to appear higher than it actually is.

Software can also cause your company to drill a hole in a poor location that costs more to operate than it produces. The incorrect allocation of production is another problem that can be caused by poor software.

Facilities with multiple wells must allocate resources to each well, which is generally based on each well’s production. Software that reports production incorrectly can result in a sub-optimal allocation of resources.

Revenue

The loss of a lease is one of the most significant problems for an oil and gas company that relates to revenue. This problem typically occurs when a company is unable to successfully market a lease or sustain its production for an extended period of time.

The failure to receive revenue from all well interests can also be a major problem affecting a company’s revenue. Well interests include basic royalties that are paid to the mineral rights owner and overriding royalty interests that are retained by third parties such as geologists.

Well interests include working interests that a company receives after royalties in exchange for exploring, developing and operating the property. Bad software can also reduce a company’s revenue by inaccurately estimating the reserves remaining in a particular well.

For more, read this post on how oil and gas software can improve decision making and forecasting.

Oil and Gas Software: IT is Adapting in a Brave New World

Oil and gas software helps support IT transformation into valued business partner

It’s no secret that the exploration, drilling and production industry is not the same industry it once was, and oil and gas software can provide companies with the new Oil & Gas Software: The role of ITcapabilities they need to respond to the increasingly competitive environment around them. In a recent article from The American Oil & Gas Reporter, titled “IT Leaders Embrace Challenging Transformation In Upstream Operations”, Johnathan Zanger and Gerry Swift discuss how change in the oil and gas industry has created both challenge and opportunity for IT.

Zanger and Swift argue that oil and gas companies have a choice: they can either look at IT as a necessary but inconvenient utility—that is, they could continue to look at IT the same way they always have—or, they can start looking at IT as a valued partner that can help meet desired business outcomes.

Decision Making and IT

Zanger and Swift analyzed data provided by seven different exploration, drilling and production IT groups to gain a better understanding of how decisions are being made in these organizations, and how these decisions affect the business. The results of the analysis show a number of ways that growing the partnership between IT and line of business can benefit oil and gas companies:

  • Improved data management
  • Greater customer satisfaction
  • More opportunities to innovate
  • More well-defined corporate structure

Improved data management

As oil and gas companies change the way they operate, they must also change the way they capture, analyze and apply data. It’s no longer sufficient to gather data just for the sake of gathering data. Successful companies must be able to capture pertinent data that can be directly applied to business operations. Oil and gas software can provide the data management capabilities needed to make this happen.

Greater customer satisfaction

Ensuring customer satisfaction has long been one of the most important objectives of oil and gas IT organizations. However, changes in the oil and gas industry have also altered the meaning of the term “customer satisfaction.” It’s no longer just a matter of meeting business objectives and focusing on customer needs. IT organizations now need to make themselves truly customer-centric, aligning themselves to provide business value, before the customer even has to ask.

More opportunities to innovate

The importance of innovation in the oil and gas industry is well established. What seems to be less clear is the difference between change and innovation. Innovation constitutes a change for the better, that opens a new and more effective way of doing things. Many oil and gas companies have difficulty identifying innovation opportunities, but Zanger and Swift predict that a greater partnership between business and IT would make these opportunities easier to find.

More well-defined corporate structure

In order for IT to support the business effectively, there must be established processes in place to show the alignments and accountabilities of everyone involved with the IT organization. IT organizations can no longer continue to exist in their own little world. In order for IT organization to provide true business value, they must understand their relationship with the business, and be able to collaborate consistently.

One of the key misconceptions that Zanger and Swift try to do away with in their article is that changing IT requires bleeding-edge technological solutions. In reality, the solutions needed to drive greater IT involvement with business processes already exist, and they’re already proven. IT just needs to find new ways to apply these tools, such as oil and gas software, to support their mission.

For more on this topic, read this article on how the IT service model is changing…

Custom Software: Game Changers for Oil & Gas Service

Custom Software for Service Companies

In the oil and gas industry, every company has a different need for custom software. Every business faces unique issues that can only be addressed by custom software.

Custom software: Oil and Gas Service Companies

Custom software applications can provide oil and gas companies with a variety of benefits, including:

  • More effective inventory tracking
  • Automation of repetitive and error-prone tasks
  • Easier access to information

More effective inventory tracking

It’s no secret that equipment used in the oil and gas industry is expensive. Knowing how much is spent on equipment and how effectively equipment is being utilized can be a key factor in determining profitability.

One major equipment rental company was able to use a custom inventory tracking application to make sure that they weren’t paying for more equipment than their customers could use.

In addition, the company used the application to provide inventory tracking services to their customers, so that the customers could plan ahead to make sure they were renting the right amount of equipment. The customer-facing portion of the application became a key differentiator for the company by providing value to its customers.

Automation of repetitive and error-prone tasks

Any software solution that requires just as much work to complete a task as it would to do the task manually is an example of bad software. Effective custom software solutions can automate repetitive tasks like copying and pasting or exporting data, decreasing the amount of work that employees must perform.

Automating repetitive tasks makes employees more productive, and decreases the likelihood of human error.

Easier access to information

In the oil and gas industry, having access to the right information at the right time is key. One company that specializes in pipeline logistics needed a solution that could provide needed information in the event of a pipeline accident.

If this were to occur, the company’s customers would need access to information on the history of individual pipes, and finding this information was very time consuming for the company. They used custom software to provide easy access to this information, helping them become more efficient and provide a better experience for their customers.

No matter what challenges a service company is facing, a custom software solution can probably be developed to overcome them.

For help assessing how to evaluate what software solution would fit your business’s needs, check out our series on software selection.

Oil and Gas Software: Decision Making and Forecasting

Oil and Gas Software and the Accuracy of Decisions

Oil and gas software can be one key to integrated, well structured, well defined IT systems. Data support utilizing an oil and gas specific framework leads to intelligent decision making and a reduction in overhead.

Case study: Oil and Gas Business Intelligence Framework

Data access, forecasting and analysis, reporting and decision making software for dedicated professionals, from the field to the boardroom, are available with solutions developed by Halliburton, Dell, Qualcomm and Microsoft.

Oil and Gas Software: iLink Business IntelligenceThe Oil & Gas Business Intelligence framework, iLink, offers a comprehensive real-time overview of your business. You can track performance metrics that will provide you with the necessary information to make informed business decisions. Dashboards offer an easy to access overview. The process of resource optimization will help to make reliable forecasts based on the most current data. Managers and technicians in the field can communicate data, while tickets and alerts can be created for field personnel.

iLinks key features are:

·         Identifying Key Performance Metrics

·         Monitoring Well Performance

·         Creating and assigning well issue ticketing and alerts

·         Global well map

Microsoft’s partnering with Halliburton has developed the architecture for their oil and gas upstream framework, MURA.  This architecture supports business with the goals of gaining maximum insight from business data and maximizing worker productivity. The framework supports real time analytics, including robust statistical and analysis packages for data mining, research and consumer reporting.

It also supports stream-processing engines capable of detecting and filtering real-time events, on site or in the cloud.

Information integration enables diverse data and software to seamlessly function without being trapped in a pipeline to nowhere. Workers need tools that help them gain deeper insights into ever growing quantities of relevant data.

Simplifying the process of finding, selecting, and exploring their data in flexible ways is essential. This process needs to be intuitive for them, and they should not have to rely on IT to fetch data or write custom reports.

You can deliver cost effective solutions with MURA that are highly mobile because of interoperability in the cloud and on-site. MURA supports industry standards. An industry wide interface makes new, competent implementation such as PPDM understandable and manageable.

MURA interfaces are published for open industry use. All the elements of an interface are well defined so that applications can be independently developed once per function. Wasteful duplication of effort can be avoided.

Information models employ a consistent naming system for referring to assets. This makes information sharing, exchange and comprehension an understandable process.

Security implementation is robust and well defined, including authentication, identity lifecycle management, authorization, certificates, claims and threat models. This facilitates secure interoperable design and deployment.  Solutions that integrate business processes, workers, workflow and IT processes with essential and immediate data support intelligent workflow.

Business Intelligence in Action

K2 uses MURA to manage declining well process. The MURA framework provides guidance for oil and gas companies for creating a dashboard of applications that are integrated at the user interface layer.

This kind of oversight capability gives well operators the data and context they require be alerted to issues that need timely corrective action. K2 optimizes information provided to decision makers, while minimizing data that is superfluous or in an obscure format.  IT departments appreciate MURA and K2 because costs are restrained while business demands are effectively met.

Demand forecasting simplifies and automates enterprise-wide forecasting, and improves the quality and measurability of marketing planning. When you improve accuracy significantly, it is likely to result in improved capital decisions and effective communication that will ultimately bring a reduction in overhead and operating costs.

For more on how oil and gas software can help your business, read this post on the benefits of analytics.