The process of selecting oil and gas software solutions is a critical one. The system that you choose today has significant impact on the future of your business. Choosing a tool that is only suitable for your present needs can lead to unforeseen obstacles that hinder long-term growth. In order to evaluate which solution will best meet your needs, you’ll need to consider where you see your company in 5-10 years.
An oil and gas software package is also a significant investment. Between the purchase price, ongoing costs, annual support agreements, training and staffing, implementing software can be a pricey endeavor. All the more if you make an unsuitable selection that results in extensive problems. Needless to say, with the broad landscape of products available, the process of evaluation and selection can be overwhelming. Here are some guidelines that will help you navigate the process.
1. Assess Your Current Situation
- What kinds of assets do you have and how many? (wells, equipment, tanks, facilities, vehicles, rigs, etc.)
- How many wells do you own? How many meters and tanks assist in managing your wells?
- How do you track your production and report to stakeholders, governments, and forecast your P/L?
- Are there redundancies in your current workflow? Do you have the same procedure repeated in various departments?
- Are there inefficiencies or sources of errors in your current workflow?
- Other shortcomings of your current workflow?
2. Create an “Essentials” List and a “Nice-to-Have” List
Now that you’ve looked at how you’re currently handling your data and assets, go through the questions below and generate a list of features that your software solution must have. Also make a second list of items that are non-essential, but would be nice to have. Be sure to consider not only the functionality you need, but also any functionality you may need in the future. Below are some questions to help guide your lists:
What problems are you trying to solve with a software solution?
- Save time?
- Eliminate/reduce errors?
- Identify and eliminate processes that slow down your operations?
- Better identify and manage operating costs?
- Plan and manage your business effectively with data that is current?
- Maximize employees, assets, and resources?
- Reduce multiple software products that manage various aspects by utilizing integrated software?
Who will use and maintain your software?
- What support is provided?
- Will you provide your own internal servers and staff or will you use hosted services?
- Will it require additional personnel resources, such as IT staff?
Which key people rely on reported data for the following:
- Daily production
- Current equipment inventory, including condition and availability
- Reporting to federal and state
- Stakeholder reports
- AFE status and updates
- Scheduling of rigs and people
In what format(s) will you need the information produced by the software?
- Can the data be accessed remotely?
- Are you able to export data in multiple formats?
- Will you require automated reports generated on a set schedule?
Who needs to access the software and the data produced by the software?
- Who should have access to your data and assets?
- How many people can access the data at once?
- What security requirements do you have regarding users and roles?
What data storage solutions are available?
- How much data do you need to store?
- Where will data be accessed? Locally, remotely, or a combination of both?
- Will those needs change during the next 12, 24 or 36 months?
- How will data be accessed should a disaster occur?
- Is there a backup source?
3. Designate a Project Manager
The earlier someone is assigned to champion this project, the better. This person will be responsible for conducting the necessary research, keeping necessary team members abreast of findings, and moving decisions forward. They will also take ownership of the software once it goes live.
4. Clarify Your Budget
Determine your budget, allowing for any additional expenses such as hardware upgrades, implementation costs, and maintenance expenses. Also bear in mind that more expensive options can sometimes offer a greater ROI as they add products/functionality to your operations. So you may find that you’ll want to adjust your budget as you make more discoveries.
5. Narrow Your Options
Now that you have a budget to accompany your “essentials” and “nice-to-have” lists, you can begin eliminating some prospects. Examine the product and features list for each vendor and disqualify those that lack important features. Reduce your list to two or three products that are a good fit for your company. Look for high-quality customer support and a strong track record with their user base.
6. Evaluate the Remaining Candidates
From your remaining options, determine which products deliver the most items from your “nice-to-have” list. Are there add-ons that you can purchase at a later date as you need them? Now that you have your prospects narrowed down, see if you can book a demonstration to see the software in action. Be sure to invite any critical decision-makers to the demo. Here are a some questions to ask during the demonstration:
- Are there any ongoing costs?
- How simple is the implementation process?
- Does it come with manuals? What support is available?
- Make sure you understand how easily the system can adapt to changes in your organization e.g. re-organization / restructuring, new acquisitions, etc.
- Find out how the system (and the vendor) keeps up with new regulatory requirements?
- What operation system(s) does it work with?
- How secure is my data?
7. Get Feedback from Your Team
Now is the time to get feedback from key members of your staff who will be using the software. Apart form gaining constructive insight, this will give them a sense of investment and contribution to the project. This will make for a smoother transition when it comes time to implement the software, as your staff will be much more receptive to the change.
8. Plan the Transition and Implement the Software
To avoid issues and downtime, invest time early on to plan the transition to the new software. The successful implementation of any software product depends almost entirely on the complete buy in from upper-level management or business owners.
The more that is invested in the early phases of this project (particularly for orientation, initial training and data import), the smoother (and ultimately faster) your implementation will be. Careful planning from the beginning will increase the benefits you reap in the months and years ahead.
Steps for a successful implementation:
- Find out if the software company offers an implementation service or guide.
- Avoid implementing new software during your company’s busiest times.
- Allow for system redundancy to ensure that none of your data is lost during the transition.
- Ask for support when needed.
- Plan out each phase, including the personnel that should be involved.
- Make sure all checklists are complete before proceeding to subsequent phases.
Although it’s a potentially daunting task, selecting a software solution that is right for your company will reap ongoing benefits in personnel productivity, reporting, accessing and analyzing data, and increasing production from your assets. Which ultimately makes jobs easier, and makes your operation run smoother. With a good solution and processes in place, you will realize a significant return on your investment.
If you’ve found this guide helpful, you can also view or download it as a slide presentation.