The Evolution of Efficiency in Oil and Gas Software

As the oil and gas industry grows, the IoT (Internet of Things) gets more advanced and in turn, grows along with it. This growth is crucial and as advances are made to deliver important data to oil and gas companies, they are presented with a plethora of software companies from which to choose. Oil and gas software is so versatile now that the clientele it benefits is spread across all sectors and ranges anywhere from small, private engineering firms to large, publicly owned corporations. The software market is extremely competitive, with more developers emerging by the minute. When presented with so many options, companies have quite the challenge of finding the perfect software that meets their needs in a sea of options.

Death of Paper and Value of Time

Since the invention of the printing press, the world has survived on paper. At the time of its inception, it was a revolutionary invention. The subject has long been debated whether or not it was, in fact, the greatest invention of all time. Companies across the globe have utilized paper for decades, centuries even. The oil industry was no exception. On the office side, drafting was done on large tables or floors, depending on the size of paper, with protractors and pencils. In the oil field, pressure and production readings on wells were hand written on paper and faxed into to the corporate office each day. The paper was then filed and kept for years until eventually they were moved off-site where they continued to be stored for years. Paper meant time and it also meant manpower – two extremely crucial factors when it comes to a company’s profit margin.

Time is a huge factor here and it can be a benefit or burden, depending on how it’s managed. The concept of advanced technologies allowing companies to manage, report and analyze data in real-time, is an incredible asset. It’s a tool, that to be able to have a competitive advantage in an ever evolving oil market, a company or individual must possess in order to keep up with the times.

Industry Software Leaders

Drillinginfo, based out of Austin, Texas is the leading SaaS (Software as a Service) and data analytics company for energy exploration and production decision support. Their technologies – intelligence, analytics, tools and services combined into one, can benefit anyone from royalty owners and small independents, to large corporations. Allen Gilmer, founder of Drillinginfo, was an independent oilman for seven years, co-founding three profitable E&P (Exploration and Production) companies prior to founding Drillinginfo in 1999. Together with some other independent operators with seismic and land backgrounds, “We thought, ‘what can we do to make this process better and more efficient? What tool can we invent that no one has ever seen before to improve on this?’ We were the very first in our field to go out to market selling to the small guys first,” says Gilmer. Drillinginfo is now one of the most popular and widely used oil and gas software with approximately 50,000 users. Time is essential to their mission, as they provide instantaneous access to everything a company could possibly desire in their field. Because of the advantage they offer, time is saved and excessive manpower that would normally be needed to complete these tasks, is no longer required.

Oildex is another company making remarkable strides in the O&G software industry. They are the leader in financial automation solutions for the industry. They allow their users to seamlessly and securely collaborate with their business partners, automate critical business processes and eliminate the high cost and errors associated with the handling of paper. In May of this year, Oildex announced its OpenTicket, which is the next generation of the company’s digital field ticket solution. OpenTicket is the industry’s only comprehensive, end-to-end cloud-based platform that provides operators and service providers with all the software they need to generate, review and approve digital field tickets. “Highly inefficient paper field tickets are the last obstacle to overcome when it comes to automating and digitizing the oilfield,” said Craig Charlton, CEO of Oildex. “OpenTicket solves this problem and allows service providers to quickly and easily submit field tickets while allowing operators to quickly and easily approve those field tickets. Coupled with our Openinvoice platform and recently announced Supply Chain Finance program, we are creating the most efficient source-to-settle ecosystem in the oil and gas industry.” OpenTicket is a complete solution for both operators and service providers, it provides offline mobile support for service providers, support for D&C (Drilling and Completions) “Virtual Company Man” capability and optimized processing which expedites approval. Before OpenTicket became available, it would typically take 4 to 8 weeks to accept a field ticket and approve the invoice. Now the process can be done in around an hour.

On August 13, 2018 it was announced that Thoma Bravo, LLC, a leading private equity investment firm has agreed to acquire Quorum Software. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of this year. Quorum is another cutting-edge software industry leader. They focus on helping oil and gas companies meet their long-term goals using familiar Microsoft technologies, enabling enterprise integration, driving faster deployment and providing access to clean, consistent and consumable data. The focus of Quorum is the user experience and cloud-based software, which allows any and every important piece of data to be accessed from anywhere. “The North American oil and gas industry continues to grow, with a heightened focus on operational efficiencies and maximized capital productivity. Quorum’s comprehensive capabilities across the value chain with advanced technical innovation and deep domain expertise, coupled with our strong brand, positions us well for continued growth. We look forward to benefiting from Thoma Bravo’s expertise in helping companies grow through their prudent investment strategies. We are also thrilled to partner with their software industry experts to harness exciting new growth opportunities,” says Perry Turbes, Chief Executive Officer of Quorum Software.

The Challenge of Transitioning

Although it would be ideal, companies cannot purchase software, sign a check and expect to have their whole organization transformed overnight. Reasonably speaking, the transition and training that goes into converting, plays a large role. It is an immense commitment for all personnel involved from interns to the CEO.

Drillinginfo offers a Customer Resource Center, which is a central location for customers to find links to instruction materials, product documentation, submit a support ticket, ask questions, submit ideas, find out about Drillinginfo events or even sign up for training. They also offer live webinars, many of which are free for subscribers and potential customers that are curious about what they offer. In-person training or “transform courses” are paid in-depth training courses designed to assist the new or experienced user to accomplish key workflows with hands-on, instructor-led exercises. Courses are half or full day and cover topics from data loading and visualization through interpretation, velocity modeling and multivariate statistics. Each face-to-face course includes access to a training computer with appropriate datasets and a hard copy training manual which can be used as a desktop reference after the training course. When asked how long it generally takes to “go live” with one of the Drillinginfo products, Gilmer said, “Since most of what we do is app-based, the access and information is instantaneous. The larger and more specific packages may require additional training.”

In regard to setup and transition, Quorum has very specific timelines set forth on their website. It is in place to develop a plan that minimizes disruption, enhances business processes and speeds time to value. With a team of deployment experts, there are three options of integration:

  • Rapid – Using out-of-the-box standard configuration, the Rapid Deployment Package gets clients fully operational with myQuorum applications in three to four weeks.
  • Rapid+ – Using a variety of configuration options, the Rapid+ package delivers an entire suite of fully integrated myQuorum applications in ten to twelve weeks.
  • Tailored – Beginning with a comprehensive needs assessment, the Tailored Package features a custom engagement and fully deploys in as little as three months.

Companies can choose to send their employees to Quorum’s education center or host the training at their facility. Either way, the education and training services help get the most from the myQuorum investment.

Oildex has a dedicated team of implementation specialists that assist operators with deploying OpenTicket. The team uses a proven methodology that focuses on the adoption of the software by both operators and their service providers, not just setting up the software and training users. The methodology builds on Oildex’s 15 years’ experience deploying its OpenInvoice product to oil & gas operators and to oilfield service providers. The Oildex team works with each operator licensing OpenTicket to develop a rollout strategy that meets their particular needs. Most operators use a segmented rollout strategy where they onboard targeted regions and supplier types sequentially, as opposed to a single big-bang company-wide rollout. Implementation timeframes vary with the size and complexity of the operator. Typical projects take 30-45 days from the initial kickoff meeting to initial ‘go live’, followed by ongoing efforts to continue growing the supplier community. OpenTicket implementation teams typically manage the project, configure OpenTicket to support the customer’s unique business rules, help the operator’s field personnel learn how to use the new system to review and approve digital field tickets, and work with the operator’s suppliers to get them onboarded.

A major problem companies run in to with conversion, is the unwillingness for some of the older generation to adapt to these practices. They are set in their ways and doing things the only way they have known for decades. It is a challenge to get them to accept and utilize the new technologies out there. Because of the experience they provide, the knowledge some of these employees possess is invaluable and companies do not want to lose them. This makes transition delicate and it’s so important that the focus is on making them feel comfortable and confident in this new role. For the software to be successful, everyone has to be on board.

Each of these software companies, in addition to the many others out there, are offering a service. It is not just any service, though. They are offering the ability to gain an advantage in an extremely competitive market. So, when presented with this software, the question is not “if” we will convert over to cloud-based software, but “when.” When the decision is made to make that leap, which one will be chosen? What sets one apart from the other? Distinguishing factors that come into play are the personalization aspects. All of them can be tightly integrated, customizing the software to fit every need of an oil and gas company, which makes them invaluable. Extensive research is key though. Do the homework. The information is all there for an educated decision to be made to find which software will be the best fit for the company’s bottom line. Once the decision is made, and personalization and training have occurred, actually “going live” becomes a reality. At that time, it will be a wonder how the industry ever survived without it.

Abshier Energy

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