“We cannot continue to operate the way we’re operating and maintain what we’re doing.”
Jessica Crace, Technology Business Champion at the largest Supermajor, voices the sentiment of evolving oilfields. They must produce more with the same resources. Operations demand efficiency. The current systems and processes have redundancies and latency in realizing outcomes. However, the transition from legacy systems to pump by exception can be challenging. They must change, but how?
The largest supermajor and some of the top oil and gas leaders in the Permian recently came together in a first of its kind mastermind – collaborating to solve for field optimization and sharing best practices to pump by exception. One of the major topics of discussion was managing change in the oilfield.
They recommend the following 5 strategies for a successful transition from legacy systems to pump by exception in oilfields.
1. Adopt field first philosophy in the oilfield
Technology must solve for the needs of the users. Field workers do not want one more tool to juggle with unless it adds value to their day. Therefore, to improve operational efficiency it pays to stay connected with the field. To know what actually helps the field, somebody has to be interconnected to that field group. Jessica adds
“Make sure that you’re only doing things that better their business or make their business more efficient.”
While implementing JOYN, Nick Lira, IT Manager for Operations Technology at a mid-sized operator, used a similar approach. He says,
“we did a lot of workshops and pulled all kind of people together; production superintendents, production engineering managers, production engineers, and lease operators and established a steering committee for certain technical aspects. They may not be making the decisions but they’re telling us all the things that are important and giving us feedback on what happens when we do those things.”
2. Successful change initiatives happen when they have Executive Sponsorship
Change must be mandated from the top. Executive buy-in and sponsorship is essential.
“You’ve got to get your upper management along. They’ve got to be a champion for the initiative,”
“We worked with the executives to make sure that there’s a lot of sponsorship up at the top and that they see the vision of the benefits that could be had from saving time.”
Changing the mindset in the field from going to each stop every day to route-less is a common concern. Nick explained that once the field heard the executive vision, adoption makes much simpler,
“We had a system where everybody goes to every stop every day. We had to make those changes up at the executive level to make the field understand that they were okay with not going to every stop every day.”
3. Educate the field and office to ensure they have the same understanding
It is essential to remove any ambiguity when the field is making a change to pump by exception. It becomes extremely important to bring everyone in the field and the office on the same page.
“There is some of that negotiation required and working with the whole stack of people from executives to operations management to the superintendent to the lease operators to make sure that everybody is on the same page and that the right directives come down. When you can put that into place, then you use the tools to make that change happen”,
4. The best way to gain trust is to demonstrate value
When change is aimed at making life easier for the field, the best way to gain trust is to demonstrate value. When users realize the benefits themselves, they move along and adopt the new.
“When we got JOYN in people’s hands, from the lease operators’ side, the people who we expected to be really against it, people who are hard to change, were actually some of the people that loved it the most because it’s easier. So even though they don’t like to change they like dealing with the phone more than they like the laptop experience”,
Nick shared how the field transitioned from multiple interfaces to JOYN.
“Our superintendent is really on board with JOYN as it saved his guys two hours every day, the product is really awesome.”
5. Spend time and effort in hands-on training to improve adoption
To make users comfortable with the new app, they need hands-on training, not instruction manuals or second-hand information. The JOYN team spends time in the field, goes on ride-along with LOs to understand their issues, solving them on the ground.
“Shiva (CEO, Seven Lakes Technologies) himself is going out there and changed compressor heads with one of our mechanics for four hours. Just trying to figure out what their processes are”
Hands-on training in small groups works best. Showing them the functionalities until they gain confidence with the app.
“If you’re putting the phone in their hand and saying here’s JOYN, we’re going to pump by exception, we’re going to do dynamic routing, this is how you’re going to input data. It won’t work. You better be prepared to put some effort into that training,”
Oilfields are slowly but steadily adopting change. Fixed routes and disjointed communication is giving way to route-less oilfields and collaborative task management.
“We are in the mindset that the progress that we can make now is just building blocks for whatever we do in the future. As long as we have the tools to do it. We can change the rules in the future and maybe take out the some of the daily repetitive tasks as people feel more comfortable kind of being guided around instead of just knowing I started this place I go to this place. We see more route-less in the future,”