How Can Oil and Gas Operations Escape ‘Death by Spreadsheet’?

by | Oct 16, 2020

After a turbulent 2020 and an oil downswing, oil and gas operations companies need to be leaner than ever. Instead of continuing with legacy methods of revenue tracking and logistics, it is high time to invest in more efficient oil and gas operations software and earn the advantages of e-ticketing systems. This means that time is up for the gargantuan Excel spreadsheet. 

The accrued impact of constantly dealing with paper, and unwieldy spreadsheets, adds up. Inefficient systems and infrastructure can lead companies to die by a thousand cuts. 

Capstone FSM, Thru Tubing Solutions, and Nine Energy Services all escaped ‘death by spreadsheet’ by implementing FieldFX. 

How Do Spreadsheets Hamper Oil and Gas Operations?

It is very common for oil and gas operations companies to have Excel spreadsheets at the core of their work. Although spreadsheets have proved handy since their invention in 1979, they have a lot of issues attached to them.

As Forbes explores, most workers simply don’t like spreadsheets. Unlike data analysts, who pore over spreadsheets everyday, average users find them confusing or intimidating. And even when they can use them, they suck up a lot of time on low-value work. With spreadsheets, you spend a lot of time manually entering data and computing everything, instead of focusing on more important aspects of operations. 

Spreadsheets invariably become bigger and more numerous as the business grows. Various users pass them around, making changes and unavoidably entering erroneous data. They become increasingly difficult to analyze as they grow in size. There’s the problem with relevant data becoming “hidden”, or the loss of historical data as companies “update” their sheets. Eventually, disputes arise over the data’s accuracy, and people gradually lose trust in the analysis.

 

As a report from TDWI Research puts it, “the biggest hit from this chaos is poor productivity. Spreadsheets become unwieldy documents that may feature hundreds of worksheet tabs and custom, manually created formulas for tracking budgets, financial performance, and other aspects of business operations. To perform more advanced analysis usually requires custom coding, which calls for skills that only a few power users have, making organizations vulnerable if those users leave the enterprise.” 

Organizations, the report concludes, should be “moving beyond dependence on spreadsheets.”

Swapping Spreadsheets for Software 

FieldFX helps oil and gas operations companies escape from the hellhole of spreadsheet dependence. 

In 2016, Capstone was using a pretty basic business platform, with paper forms, Excel spreadsheets and shared folders. However, as the business grew, they had a hard time keeping up.

“Doing everything by and on paper was manageable with five trucks,” said Kristen Davis, the company’s Director of Account Management. “It was getting a little tricky at 10 trucks. But when we really started to gain steam, this was not going to be a sustainable methodology. It was becoming a nightmare!”

Nine Energy Service, a Houston-based oilfield services company, also recognized the need to modernize their systems. Nine Energy’s leadership realized that their business processes had become antiquated. They were filling out paper tickets, cramming data into Excel sheets, and manually building reports. As Sean Barnes, Vice President of IT and Human Resources, put it:

“We came to the realization that we would have to implement some sort of a system to streamline these processes and get control, get our arms around what was going on at the field level. Only by doing this could we make more informed decisions about our business.”

And Thru Tubing Solutions has a similar story. Since 1997, the company has been a leader in specialized downhole and thru tubing services and equipment. However, they still could not bring standardization to their ticketing processes. As Maria Galloway, product team manager at Thru Tubing’s parent company, explains:

“At the time, at Thru Tubing Solutions, we did not have an application to manage our field ticketing processes and forms. We had a really high powered Excel spreadsheet… probably one of the best I’ve ever seen! But that said, it’s still an Excel tool, right?”

No matter how high-powered their Excel spreadsheet was, Thru Tubing still couldn’t standardize the forms they used across their diversified holding company. In addition, they were experiencing issues with data integrity, validation, and entry. This resulted in a great leakage in revenue.

Technology Is the Answer

Organizations need to improve the productivity of their individual users, departments, and divisions by eliminating their dependency on spreadsheets. This should be a key digital transformation goal for any enterprise involved in oil and gas operations

And implementing an oil and gas operations software solution like FieldFX not only helps oil and gas operations escape “death by spreadsheet”. The resulting effect of this modernization is improved revenue collection. A more efficient ticketing system means much less leakage.

Thru Tubing Solutions has now successfully implemented FieldFX across 15 of their 23 locations. According to Galloway, “99% of our previous year’s lost revenue has been recaptured, and that is a significant number. FieldFX has also significantly contributed to our overall quote-to-cash process, and streamlined that timeline.

FieldFX also provided Nine Energy Service with all the advantages of e-ticketing systems, such as:

  • Easy quote creation and approval processes for same-day invoicing 
  • Backtracking and reproductions of lost quotes 
  • Systematic distribution of roles, schedules, and dispatches, and; 
  • Easier reporting with all data – equipment used, locations, user roles, permission profiles, etc. – automatically captured.

Even Capstone FSM managed to get 180 new employees, 19 new engines, and expanded to new locations in just two years of using FieldFX. 

“In two years, we’ve submitted 14,201 tickets,” Davis reports. “Before FieldFX, this was unheard of. And last year, we hit 36% growth over the prior year. There’s no way on earth we could have done this without FieldFX or without the amazing support from Liquid Frameworks.”

Taking the Opportunity

No respectable oil and gas operations company wants to suffer a slow death by spreadsheet. The advantages of e-ticketing systems not only outweigh the inefficiencies of spreadsheets; they also allow enterprises to make the necessary cultural shift to adapt to the new normal. As Dave Levitt, Senior VP of Worldwide Sales in LiquidFrameworks, once put it:

“When you advertise and sales are down, you don’t pull all your advertising. That’s when you double down. And that’s what the smartest companies in our space do. In more challenging times, they double down on streamlining processes, doing more with less, rationalizing systems, and repositioning themselves for growth to massively grow when the opportunity presents itself.”

Learn more about FieldFX and how it is helping oil and gas operations thrive in this current economic landscape. Visit us here to schedule a demo. Or read more of our case studies here.