I recently had the opportunity to attend the Operational Excellence in Oil and Gas Summit held in Houston. As a hotbed for the industry, the summit provided a unique view into the world of oil and gas through the eyes of key business leaders. During my time at the conference, a few things came to light.
Manual Processes Run Rampant
The first thing that became clear to me during the OPEX Oil and Gas Summit was that manual processes are still very prevalent for organizations. Even the most forward thinking oil and gas companies with large IT departments still have operational gaps that are filled by paper, email, and spreadsheets.
One attendee I spoke to worked in the supply chain division for a large petroleum refining, marketing, and transportation company. He spoke about how their supply chain is still using paper, email, and spreadsheets for their workflow management. He shared how they are overwhelmed by paper and that at times he feels like he is herding cats since he has no control or visibility into what is going on.
I had another conversation about manual processes with an executive at a petroleum and natural gas exploration and production company headquartered in Oklahoma City. He discussed how his organization is bogged down by manual processes in the field. In particular, he shared how employees in their remote well locations use paper checklists to gather critical information. These checklists did little to inform leadership on how things were on their business-critical sites. He also shared that employees have to re-enter paper checklist information into the company’s CRM at the end of the day. While time consuming, this entire process is also error-prone and sometimes skipped altogether, further creating information gaps for leadership.
The Need to Digitize is a Known
The second take-away during my time at the OPEX Oil and Gas Summit was that attendees recognize the need to digitize their processes. During one conversation, a supply chain executive discussed his desire to digitize in order to leverage data better and thus make his supply chain division more efficient. This executive recognized that in order to improve his company’s overall operations, digitizing manual processes to improve speed, control, and visibility and make data-driven decisions is key.
Another example of oil and gas leaders knowing they need to digitize and taking steps to get there came from a session I attended that was led by Clint Boman, the Director of Operations Excellence at Noble Energy. Clint discussed how Noble set up an Operations Excellence Steering Team to provide leadership, support, and alignment for operations excellence efforts across the organization. The steering team is focused on digitizating operations, maintenance planning, scheduling, inventory management, asset integrity, and change management. Clint explained that without putting effort into digitizing these areas, they cannot improve their processes and knowledge-sharing, ultimately stalling their continuous improvement initiative.
Hungry for a Real Solution
My third big take-away from the OPEX Oil and Gas Summit was how hungry leaders are for a solution like TrackVia. At the summit, Brandon Gill, a solution architect at TrackVia, gave a presentation about how KS Industries (KSI), an oil and gas service provider, struggled with manual processes, time-consuming data re-entry, and limited visibility as a result of their paper-based processes. KSI selected TrackVia to digitize their manual processes and build out custom applications with ease and without relying on IT. While they started with one application to digitize their paper-based processes, they have since grown to over 10 applications and over 800 users.
Brandon shared how KSI was able to build out their own custom applications quickly and easily without needing to code. TrackVia allows business people to build their own IT-approved applications (requiring little-to-no help from IT). Brandon shared all of the different applications that KSI has built with TrackVia, opening everyone’s eyes to the diverse areas that they could digitize with one platform-based solution, TrackVia.
At the end of Brandon’s presentation, questions came from the crowd asking how KSI was managing their 10+ applications and 800+ users. Brandon described how only two folks at KSI manage their entire environment and users. The attendees were shocked that KSI’s mission-critical applications didn’t require high IT manpower and wanted to know how KSI was only using two people to manage their entire TrackVia workflow platform.
Attending the OPEX Oil and Gas Summit was a highly valuable experience. I look forward to continued conversations with leaders about how to move their operations towards excellence by digitizing manual processes with TrackVia. For more information on how this is done, read The Need for Speed: Automating Manual Processes.
We’d like to hear from you. What processes would you automate first with a custom application deployable within weeks?