Entrance to present on Master Data Management (MDM) at PNEC 2014

Entrance is excited to be a sponsor and featured presenter at the 18th International Conference on Petroleum Data Integration, Information, and Data Management taking place in Houston, Texas, May 20-22, 2014 at the JW Marriott hotel.

The 2014 PNEC is a power-packed, two-and-a-half-day technical program featuring 48 in-depth technical presentations and panels led by data management professionals and experts from around the world. The sessions will focus on real-world issues, best practices, developments, and cross-discipline advances that address the ever-expanding and complex data demands in today’s oil and gas industry.
Learn More: PNEC 2014 Conference Program


Entrance President, Nate Richards, is presenting in the first Best Practices and Developments session on Tuesday, May 20th. Don’t miss Unexpected Insights from a Master Data Management Failure, which starts at 8:40 a.m.

Here is what Nate had to say about what attendees can expect to learn in his session:


“Providing workers with easy access to accurate, complete, and up-to-date information is often the critical factor between success and failure of an oil and gas initiative. Implementing a Master Data Management (MDM) solution is an important step toward ensuring the correct data is being used across the organization for critical decision-making. However, research demonstrates that the majority of MDM projects fail. In my session, I’ll highlight the main reasons why MDM projects fail and what the project owners and companies must do to avoid making the same costly mistakes.”


Entrance will also be exhibiting at PNEC. Visit us in booth 413 to learn how Entrance can help you “frac your data” by integrating your disparate data and information systems. In addition to our branded giveaways, we’ll also be distributing our bound copies of our 2014 Energy Software Outlook.

Learn more:  Entrance Data Management Services

If you have something you would like to discuss specifically with Entrance at PNEC – do not leave it to chance. Schedule a meeting now by calling 832.786.6536 or emailing info@entrancesoftware.com.

Keys to Business Intelligence

Five key insights from business intelligence expert David Loshin

In a recent interview, David Loshin, president of business intelligence consultancy Knowledge Integrity, Inc., Business  Intelligence Implementation named five key things organizations can do to promote business intelligence success:

  • Design configurable business intelligence dashboards that can provide needed metrics in real time
  • Provide drill-down capabilities for metrics that are of specific concern for the business
  • Ensure agreement about performance goals and targets throughout the organization
  • Create a cultural understanding of how metrics should be used
  • Experiment with different analyses to determine which ones can provide business value

Design configurable business intelligence dashboards that can provide needed metrics in real time

According to Loshin, the key goal of any business intelligence program should be to provide performance metrics in a way that is informative, but not intrusive. In other words, business intelligence dashboards need to be highly configurable in order to make sure that business users are getting access to the exact data they need, without falling victim to data paralysis caused by having to sift through all the data they don’t need.

In addition, business intelligence dashboards need to be able to provide updates in real time, in order to ensure that business users are making decisions based on the most current view of metrics.

Provide drill-down capabilities for metrics that are of specific concern for the business

Every organization wants different insights from their business intelligence solutions. As a result, business intelligence dashboards should not be one-size-fits-all in the insights they provide.

If an organization knows in advance that a specific metric could be particularly helpful for their business, they should plan ahead to make sure their BI dashboard includes drill-down capabilities for that metric, so that they will be able to get a deeper level of insight when the need arises.

Ensure agreement about performance goals and targets throughout the organization

What are the most important insights that can be gained from a business intelligence solution? For some organizations, it’s figuring out the best way to generate new revenue. For others, it may be reducing costs or mitigating risks.

Either way, it’s important that all key stakeholders understand the values that matter most to the business, and know how BI metrics will be used to help meet those performance goals and targets.

Create a cultural understanding of how metrics should be used

An efficient business intelligence solution should allow individuals to take independent action, but there should also be an organization-wide understanding of how each individual is expected to use the insights provided by the BI solution.

C-level executives set the standard for what data is important to monitor, but they won’t be the ones actually drilling down into the data. As a result, it’s important that all business users have an understanding of how BI can help improve their decision-making.

Experiment with different analyses to determine which ones can provide business value

Business intelligence is most likely to be successful when it has executive support, but executives will probably only provide support for programs that have demonstrated value in the past. Loshin compares this situation to a chicken/egg problem: business users need executive support to implement quality BI solutions, but they often need to prove the value of business intelligence solutions before they can get executive support.

To overcome this problem, Loshin recommends undertaking a series of short experiments to find which BI analyses can provide business value, while weeding out the ones that can’t. It’s quite likely that many of the tested analyses won’t prove valuable, but the ones that do should provide sufficient return to make the experimentation worthwhile.

For more, read this post on the ROI for business intelligence

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.


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.


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.


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.

SharePoint Consulting: The Seven Deadly Sins of Productivity

SharePoint Consulting: The Key to Overcoming Common Time-Wasters

Our Sharepoint consulting engagements give us a lot of insight into the obstacles that prevent employees from being as productive as they could be. This list contains the Seven Deadly Sins of Productivity that weSharePoint Consulting: 7 Deadly Productivity Sinscome across during our SharePoint consulting engagements.

SharePoint is a powerful tool for overcoming time-wasters. If some of these sins seem a little too familiar to you, perhaps your SharePoint implementation isn’t being used to its full potential.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Productivity

1. Poor access to information

Employees who spend a lot of time sifting through massive data piles looking for the data they need probably aren’t spending a lot of time doing actual productive work. The information your company has should be an asset, not a hindrance.

Unfortunately, manual reporting techniques and departmental data silos can cause data to pile up to the point where it provides more headaches than insights.

2. Constant interruptions

It doesn’t matter if they come in the form of an email, phone call, instant message, fax, or carrier pigeon. Interruptions are annoying, and they keep you from being productive. A 2004 study found that it takes the average office worker 25 minutes to return to a task after an interruption.

Of course, it’s important that employees communicate with one another for knowledge sharing and collaboration purposes. Empowering them to communicate in a centralized location like SharePoint on their own schedule is a great way to keep employees focused on their tasks.

3. Shared file servers

Shared file servers exist for a reason, but when employees start treating them as a place to dump files randomly, they start to lose some of their value as business tools. Using a sharing system that actually keeps content organized and easy to find can put hours back into your employees’ day.

4. Multitasking

Trying to do everything at once is a great way to not get very much done at all. Some multitasking is unavoidable, but everyone works better when they’re focusing on the core tasks of their job.

The best way to avoid biting off more than you can chew is to delegate tasks to people you can trust to do them right. A collaboration tool like SharePoint can help make sure one person isn’t taking on too many tasks at a time.

5. Paper forms

Here’s a dirty little secret: many businesses still use paper forms to capture data, especially in industries that require field work. These forms take a long time to fill out, and often lead to data inaccuracies that can exacerbate data management issues. If your business still relies heavily on paper forms, ditch them now and watch your employees’ productivity skyrocket.

6. Spreadsheets

Using spreadsheet software like Excel as a database can work fine when you only have a small amount of data. However, as your business grows, you may find that your database quickly outgrows the capabilities of Excel.

You’ll be left with huge Excel files that take an eternity to load, and a mess of tabs and equations that keeps you from processing data in a timely manner.

7. Meetings

Meetings have become frequent targets of Dilbert-esque office humor, and with good reason: they’re often a complete waste of time for everyone involved. With modern collaboration tools such as SharePoint, it’s no longer necessary to have a meeting just for the sake of having a meeting.

Collaborating online can help make sure that face-to-face meetings are saved for the situations when they’re actually necessary.

For more on increasing productivity and getting the most from SharePoint, read this post on calculating SharePoint ROI!

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.

SharePoint Dashboards: Three Reasons to Build Your One-Stop Shop

Surfacing Vital Information with SharePoint Dashboards

Your Sharepoint dashboard is similar to the dashboard in your car; it contains all the information that is pertinent to your oil and gas operation so you can easily and quickly find what you need. If you haven’t set up your dashboard, it is important to contact a Sharepoint consulting firm to help you get started on this vital task.

The benefits of having your Sharepoint dashboard fully operational are numerous. Here are the basics of the Sharepoint dashboard to help you get an understanding of why it is so important for your oil and gas business.

One-Stop Shop

SharePoint DashboardsLike I said above, the dashboard is your first stop for information, and should contain relevant items that are used by employees for daily functions. You can include so many things on your dashboard, from forms to stock quotes, maps and plans, and even statistics and budget information.

The dashboard is completely customizable to the needs of your business and to support your daily operations. Your Sharepoint consulting professional can help you determine how you’d like your dashboard to be set up, and what information you need to include.

Drill-Down Menus

The drill-down menu options on the Sharepoint dashboard are one of the most popular among users. You can have many types of drill-downs on your dashboards, with links to information on companies, rigs, wells and assets. Here are a few examples to get your creative juices flowing:

Company –> Field –> Well
Company –> Asset –> Field –> Well
Asset Type –> Field –> Well –> Completion
Area –> Block –> Lease –> Well –> Completion
Plat –> County –> Lease –> Well

As you can see, the options for drill-down menus are endless, and can link to numerous pieces of vital information on current and closed operations.


Filters are also important when you are setting up your Sharepoint dashboard. You can add filters for operational and non-operational wells. You can also filter by product type, such as oil or gas wells.

Geographical data can be another way to filter information. This allows the user to quickly and easily find the information they need, so they aren’t spending all of their time trying to find what they need to accomplish their mission.


Your Sharepoint dashboard also helps users to visualize information so they can gain a better understanding of trends and performance indicators. This will also assist in making business decisions and help further your business reach. You can add charts and graphs to make the information easier to understand and retain.

The Sharepoint dashboard is one of the most important aspects of your Sharepoint site, so it’s important to do it right. Once you have your dashboard set up, it is fairly easy to maintain, and this duty can be handled by an employee in just a few minutes a day.

You will also find that operations run more smoothly when everyone has instant access to the information that they need!

To see how SharePoint dashboards helped one Entrance client accomplish this, check out this case study.


Business Intelligence Tools: Power BI First Impressions

Business Intelligence and Power BI

Business Intelligence: Power BI HomepageThis is an exciting time for SharePoint consulting and business intelligence as Microsoft moves more of its offerings into the cloud. The Power BI preview comes with several features for data query, data visualizations, collaboration, and mobility. Additionally there are new add-in components for the Excel client.

This is Microsoft’s initial foray into cloud based business intelligence but certainly not the last product we will see in this category.

Power BI for Office 365

After creating a new Office 365 account one has to wait for SharePoint online to provision before Power BI is available. Once the provisioning phase is complete a standard Office 365 team site is available.

The choice between installing demo samples and getting to work using one’s own data is given. The demo will install two Excel workbooks into the documents library that provide some excellent Power View charting examples.

Power View has many visualization capabilities that resemble those in Tableau such as bubble charts with color separations for different series and tooltips. Power BI itself is a SharePoint app. Clicking on the app opens up a page with several tiles for queries and workbooks.

Workbook visualizations have the option to display in Silverlight or via HTML5. The query applications were very interesting in that an English language search is the primary interface.

So a user can request charts, tables, etc to view data a bit like Wolfram Alpha does today. Popular Questions can be saved to Power BI. Finally there is a manage data capability that interfaces with Power Query to generate data for questions.

Business Intelligence: Manage Data Capabilities

Power BI has mobile capabilities through Silverlight and HTML 5. Unfortunately I was unable to properly test it with my iPhone because the login page never completed authentication for some reason. The Office 365 login page feels a little unweildy on a small phone. However the mobile interface may work very well on an iPad with its larger screen. On my Surface RT Power BI looks fantastic but I was not able to test the HTML5 version due to slow wireless speeds. The loading and updates tended to be slow on mobile devices especially over wireless so reports may need tweaking for performance in low bandwidth environments.

Collaboration is a major component of Power BI. First of all it is an app hosted on the SharePoint platform. Worksheets are hosted through the existing SharePoint Excel services functionality. These worksheets can be shared with others, discussed, and made part of a collaboration site. Power BI queries can also be shared. Excel charting with collaboration has a lot of potential but user adoption may prove to be challenging, especially as a currently cloud only offering.

Power BI for Excel

Power Pivot and Power View have been available Excel add-ins prior to Power BI. Two additional add-ins come with the preview: Power Map and Power Query.

Power Map is a new add-in that uses DirectX to render 3d visualizations. DirectX 10 or higher and a compliant video card are required. Unfortunately my work laptop is showing its age and was not able to render maps. While Power Pivot and Power Query have their own tabs, Power Map is found next to Power View in the Insert tab.

Business Intelligence: Power Map




Power Query is a client side ETL tool that can be used as a lightweight SSIS. Data can be loaded from a wide variety of sources including SharePoint, SQL, Web, and even Hadoop. Microsoft is utilizing many of its big data assets such as Bing to make queries a large part of the Power BI environment. Merging and appending sheets are other useful functions. Note that Power Query also interfaces with Azure’s HDInsight. This may be one of the most useful add-ins Excel has seen in a long time.

Business Intelligence: PowerQuery

For more on improving your business intelligence solutions, check out this post from our SharePoint consultant, Kyle, on when to switch from Excel or Access as database solutions…

Data Management: Leveraging Unconventional Assets for Oil and Gas

Unconventional Assets and Data Management

New risks create a need for improved data management in the oil and gas world. One of the greatest risks in unconventional shale development is the risk of not being able to manage an increasingly complex group of assets in an environment that is constantly changing.

That’s why data and its intelligent management are among the most essential assets any E&P enterprise can possess. We will take a look at some of the most ground-breaking data acquisition projects currently underway and also look at the complexities involved.

Unconventional E&P plays and data integration

Turning data into knowledge is a process that converts unconventional shale geophysical information into an asset that can be used upstream. There are specialized software tools for each step. Individual shales are different and it’s necessary to integrate a vast array of data to form a clear picture of discrete products.

Integrated software solutions incorporate a complete selection of asset-based applications such as reserves assessment, reservoir management, and exploration and production workflows.

Decision analysis uncertainty modelling offers applications that clarify financial decisions, reserves assessment, and portfolio management. A petroleum reserves management system provides an effective way to evaluate and manage reserve values and revisions.

A complete toolkit of geological and geophysical technologies enables geologists and geophysicists to widen their areas of exploration and evaluate more data with greater accuracy and insight. Powerful algorithms applied to larger data-sets ultimately results in innovative analysis, visualization, and automation.

Data management is essential for maximizing the value of your data assets. Now it is easier than ever to identify very subtle traps in non-conventional plays.

Unconventional shales bring to light geophysical data that will shape exploration

ION Geophysical Corp  purchased 235 square miles of new 3D multi-client seismic data in the Marcellus Shale play. Data was acquired with INOVA FireFly acquisition system and VectorSeis® digital sensors.

Seismic attribute analysis and other interpretation deliverables are included. The Marcellus Shale produced over 1.4 trillion cubic feet of gas during the first half of 2013, according to new data released by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Data Management and Unconventional AssetsThe Marcellus shale has been determined to contain 84 trillion cubic feet of new, recoverable natural gas and over 3 billion barrels of recoverable natural gas liquids, according to a USGS assessment. Economic viability in shale plays has traditionally been achieved through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracture stimulation.

NEOS director Lance Moreland said: “We’ll be acquiring new airborne geophysical datasets – magnetic, electromagnetic, radiometric, and gravity –and integrating these with existing seismic and well information, both of which are in short supply given the emerging nature of this play.”

This survey will provide high-value data which will supply underwriters with the necessary information to evaluate the exploration potential of prospective development locations.

Previously conducted viability tests of electromagnetic (EM) measurements in this area have yielded encouraging results. Seismic surveys were less than successful due to difficulty in imaging subsurface areas.

Airborne, passive-source EM data has led to valuable EM related insights. Data will be available for licensing to others in 2014.

Complex data means sophisticated data management

CFO’s of oil and gas E&Ps must be able to manage a highly complex set of requirements. Appropriate technologies for rapidly changing environments must be in place. Monitoring and maintaining costs is essential and must include all areas of an enterprise, from risk analysis to error correction rates.

The need to increase the availability and reliability of exploration assets while complying with health and safety requirements is also part of the equation. Managing asset lifecycles with a service oriented approach that focuses on cost issues, profitability, and risk minimization means good business intelligence.

When you are evaluating solutions, the best choices in oil and gas software are those that can control 80% or more of operating and maintenance expenses. Being able to dramatically increase the visibility and control of your enterprise wide assets is a necessity in the vast and changing operating environment of unconventional shales.

For more on using data to get ahead, check out this post on strategies Upstream companies are using right now…

Business Intelligence Implementations and the Importance of Collaboration

Business Intelligence and Collaboration

If your business intelligence implementation project has not been as successful as you hoped it would be, then you’re not alone: a 2012 survey from the research and consulting company BI Scorecard found that only 24 percent of respondents thought their business intelligence implementations were “very successful.”

Business Intelligence and CollaborationThe majority of the survey respondents said that their business intelligence projects had been helpful to business operations, but not as helpful as they had hoped.

According to Ed Burns, the site editor for SearchBusinessAnalytics, a lack of effective collaboration is one of the main reasons business intelligence projects end up under-performing. Burns argues that there is often a gap between IT and business personnel: in many companies, business intelligence implementations are considered IT projects, because the IT department is actually responsible for putting the systems together.

However, the overall success of business intelligence implementations is measured in business terms, not technical terms. If IT lacks an understanding of what business outcomes the implementation is expected to drive, then it should come as no surprise when the implementation doesn’t drive those outcomes.

So, if greater collaboration is the key to driving more successful business intelligence implementations, what can be done to encourage that collaboration? Trying to get business and IT to talk to one another may be incredibly difficult in some organizations, but Burns offers a couple of suggestions for initiating better collaboration.

Agile Enables Business Intelligence

First of all, using Agile development methodologies during the business intelligence implementation might help. By their very nature, Agile methodologies force business and IT teams into close contact with one another throughout the development process, so greater collaboration between the two will come about as a natural by-product of using Agile.

Also, the fact that the collaboration is ongoing is significant: business users will have ample opportunity to inform their IT counterparts should their needs around business intelligence ever change.

IT teams should also make an effort to communicate with business teams in their own language. This means no technobabble, and no gratuitous use of acronyms. It might help for business and IT users to meet and discuss the project goals in an informal setting, such as over lunch.

Meeting outside of the workplace may open up a more effective, easy-to-understand dialogue between the two teams.

Business Intelligence Champions

Organizations might also elect to choose a “business intelligence champion” to serve as a link between the two teams. This person may originate from the business or IT side of the implementation, but the key point is that he or she should be able to understand the implementation project from both sides: the technical issues that the IT team is running into, as well as the needs that the business users are trying to meet with the final business intelligence solution.

Having a neutral party involved that can speak the language of both groups can help keep the lines of communication open as the implementation progresses.

In the end, each individual organization has to arrive at their own decision about exactly how to position their business intelligence implementation projects between the business team and the IT team. As Burns suggests, keeping open communication and collaboration between the two teams is the most effective way of creating a technically sound implementation that also meets the needs of the business users.

If your organization has been having trouble with creating a successful business intelligence implementation, Burns’ suggestions may hold the key to overcoming your setbacks.

For more on improving business intelligence, check out this post on changing up how we think about the IT service model…

Glitch-Ridden Healthcare.gov: It pays to have a custom web development plan

Custom web development gone wrong

Custom web development: Healthcare.govNBC reported today that the custom web development project to create Healthcare.gov is many millions of dollars over budget. The website, which is intended by the government facilitate sign up for health care exchanges, has many bugs and appears to be unable to handle the necessary volume.

Commentators in the NBC story said that quick turn-around, changes in scope due to more states joining the exchange, and last minute design changes are all big factors. So what could have the government and the development company, CGI Federal, have done differently?

Planning makes a difference

As we’ve discussed in the past, every custom web development project has some element of risk involved. Starting out, the problem being solved must be clearly defined. If a quick turn-around is required, a plan must be developed to maintain quality and leave sufficient time for testing before launch.

One question we have about this project is whether Agile or Waterfall custom development methodologies were used. The shifting requirements and quick deadline in this case would appear to lend itself to Agile.

CGI Federal’s senior vice president was even quoted last year as saying that they are moving in the direction of Agile methodologies for these complicated government projects. “Agile will allow us the flexibility to continue to develop in that environment and be able to come to the end results in a timely fashion with the appropriate solutions.”

In this case with Healthcare.gov, it’s hard to believe that the principles of Agile were applied to development. Said Entrance’s director of consulting, Chad, “We start our Agile projects with an understanding of what the minimum functionality required is, and then build from there.”

If a high volume of users and functionality for all fifty states were both top priorities, then these should have been the driving forces of the project.

Here are our top three tips for starting out a custom web development project:

  • Make quality a top priority. If new features or additions look like they will jeopardize the project, save those for a future release.
  • Always keep the business goal top of mind. Losing sight of this can mean that the project doesn’t meet anyone’s needs.
  • Be realistic. Time, resources, and functionality all come at a price. If you have a tight timeline, then either resources or functionality will have to give.

For more on getting the most from your custom web development project, check out our post on the improvements one client saw in the success of their project after switching from Waterfall to Agile.