Top 6 Benefits of Leveraging an Automated Workflow in Upstream Oil and Gas Back Offices12/15/2017
Automated workflows help oil and gas teams minimize errors and save time on important tasks.
Due to the current price of oil, upstream operators are looking for ways to accomplish more with less – and automated workflows are just the tool to help.
Without further ado, check out the top six benefits of leveraging an automated workflow:
Benefit #1: Documentation of Process
Most companies don’t have written workflows. Instead, key process flows are kept in people’s heads. As a result, it’s difficult for new people to learn processes, you can’t ensure consistency in following the processes, and it’s hard for other departments to understand how to interact with your team. We’ve seen customers capture a significant value through the step of categorically defining a process, along with its exceptions, and solve the breakdowns and bottlenecks in the process proactively rather than retroactively.
Benefit #2: Visibility into the Process
If a process involves more than one person – which is the case for most workflows – it’s difficult for people to see if the process is progressing. For example, if an ownership change requires approval from land and accounting, how can you see if it has been approved, has not been started, or is still in process? By seeing the status of all ownership changes you speed up processes and eliminate those in limbo that never get finished.
Benefit #3: Electronic Approvals
Many processes progress via “sneaker net,” or walking around the office gathering signatures. With a workflow tool, you can manage this through remote electronic approvals. From invoice reviews to AFE budget approvals, workflow can manage all of these processes in a quick and efficient manner, making the defined process available whether people are at their desks, in the field, or in transit.
Benefit #4: Audit
Oil and gas processing is all about control and audit, and workflow can make this an efficient and easy process. The approvals are saved as a system of record so everyone can see who approved and when, plus documents can be attached to the workflow and integrated to any content management system. One of our customers indicated they will save more than 200 hours every year that were previously needed to pull together information for an audit.
Benefit #5: Automation of Processes
A great example is when a new well is set up in workflow, it’s automatically created in accounting, production, and land systems as well. There’s no longer a need to transcribe from emails or printed documents. Another example is kicking off a process once the detail has been approved, such as running revenue approval reports from workflow, approving in workflow, and then automatically initiating the distribution process. This kind of set up truly changes how you interact with your software applications.
Benefit #6: Document Management
There are literally thousands of documents created in upstream oil and gas operations, from lease agreements and partner contracts to run tickets, purchaser statements, and transaction reports. Oftentimes these are printed to be approved, only to be scanned and stored. For example, some companies print their revenue distribution so that it can be signed off by a supervisor, only to have the documents scanned into a content management system. This can be eliminated with a workflow tool as the documents can be attached to the workflow, approved, and stored on a file server or in a content management system.
So, as you can see, the benefits of leveraging workflow capabilities are undeniable. And these are just the top six.
Keep in Mind…
When selecting a partner for deploying an automated workflow capability, it’s important to find one with experience and the ability to support data from many applications, as these processes often span multiple departments. Your provider must be able to support your specific workflows, which may be similar, but not the same as, those used by other operators.
About The Author
Tim Wadle, Vice President of Product Management at P2, has more than 20 years’ experience developing software solutions for oil and gas companies and has served on many industry committees along the way, including the American Petroleum Institute’s Committee on Production Measurement & Allocation and the Energistics PRODML Executive Committee. His work has been published in Oilfield Technology magazine and he has also been a featured speaker at the Offshore Technology Conference and AICPA Conference. When he’s not behind his desk, you’ll likely find Tim skiing one of Colorado’s slopes or biking one of its trails.