We Love Spreadsheets, But...


At a recent conference on drilling data, discussions turned to organisations and their reliance on spreadsheets as the default tool to communicate data between departments and functional groups. Anecdotal experience talked about an organisation where the reservoir team, drilling department, accounting team, production and engineering teams all used spreadsheets to transfer data from different systems. Another discussion detailed how one operational company department dealing with budgets and expenditure had used spreadsheet software as their tool for AFE (Approval For Expenditure) on a budget in excess of £100 M (and had been out by less than 0.01%). Amazing uses for a tool intended to create calculations and spreadsheets!

In the same way as supermarkets have an adage about never handling goods more than once because it adds delay, cost and therefore reduces margin, data can be viewed the same way. In an industry where resources are increasingly scarce – changing demographics, ageing workforce and a completely new millennial generation of workers (more on this in another post) it is both unsatisfactory and surprising that data is often touched as many as five times on its passage through an organisation. Not only does this add delay and require additional resources, it also opens the door to transcription errors. These transcription errors can have a big impact on smooth, efficient and profitable operations. Additionally, given that this data is sometimes related to production and therefore potentially reserves reporting, this can have huge impact on the reputation of a company.

The technology to extract data from multiple systems and databases, federate it, present it for validation and approval and then use this approved version in different applications such as reserves management, production reporting and AFEs already exists and is in use in industry. The biggest roadblock to the usurping of spreadsheet software as the tool of choice is now change management and encouraging people to do things differently – collaborating. Let’s keep spreadsheet software as an individual and unique tool for the individual and not the tool for collaboration within progressive organisations.

About the author
Andy Coward is Senior Director, Business Solutions at P2 Energy Solutions


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