Managing Projects in Oil & Gas Has Never Been More Critical

Sean Baird

Sean Baird

Sean leads Energy and Engineering Industry solution marketing and market development for EMC’s Enterprise Content Division.

EMC recently commissioned IDC to research how oil & gas companies manage capital projects. In this week’s blog, we’ve asked Chris Niven to add some perspective to this research and the current state of the oil & gas industry.


Untitled-1Consider the complex challenges facing oil and gas companies today. Processes are changing as oil and gas companies drill and complete multiple wells on one well pad, technologies are advancing on all fronts, and the success of the company depends on operational and technological excellence in times of lower oil prices. Since Oil and gas companies are notorious for delivering projects behind schedule and over budget, increasing project performance is one key area that can make a difference whether a company is profitable or not.

At the end of last year, IDC surveyed one hundred oil and gas professionals worldwide to evaluate the approaches organizations are taking and the areas of greatest opportunity. In this blog, I will highlight a couple of key findings, but please download the white paper to see the complete report. Continue reading

Objects are Closer than they Appear – New Content Management Cloud Data

JD de Haseth

JD de Haseth

Director, Marketing — Cloud Services in the Enterprise Content Division (ECD) at EMC Corporation
Director, Marketing -- WW Cloud Services @ EMC Enterprise Content Division

The time has finally arrived. After many years of planning and customer outreach, we can actually compare how our ideas around cloud delivery platforms have truly played out pragmatically for content management customers. We have new customer survey data, which I’ll share momentarily.

1024px-Car-SideMirrorOne of my main takeaways, having worked on EMC Enterprise Content Division teams to define and build cloud solutions, reminds me of car side view mirrors in the 1990s: “objects are closer than they appear”. Looking back on what’s different now when it comes to leveraging cloud as we manage and host customer environments in our data centers, most prominent is how customer question sets have changed.

In the early days, a mere 3-5 years ago for example, content management cloud prospects were plagued with fears. Customers were, at best, described as trepidatious. The cloud was perceived as a dark and stormy, shady object. Fears around cloud appeared larger than they really were.

Security has been, and always will be, a priority on the EMC side. Yet less and less are customers today allowing fears to hold them back from the many benefits gained by EMC cloud solutions and applications. Security features and functionality are addressed and inherent in the offerings, and the focus quickly moves onto realizing the ease of quickly delivering and rolling out content management solutions to users and, of course, Continue reading

Brownfield Projects Strategies Key Amidst Lower Oil Prices

Martin Richards

Martin Richards

EMC Corporation’s Enterprise Content Division Senior Director of Energy Industry Solutions

One of the main tenants of economic theory is that, during a recession, businesses focus on efficiency improvements rather than growth to grow profits and gain competitive advantage. This strategy also means that, when the recession ends, these organizations are leaner, fitter and better prepared to face the new – and different – challenges of a growing economy.

With the slumping price of oil, it is interesting to see these same strategies move to the forefront in the oil and gas industry today.

Major Investments Ruled The Day

For the past few years, with oil prices generally exceeding $100 per barrel, oil and gas companies have been running as fast as possible to develop new production facilities. The effect of this has been a primary focus on spending on large-scale capital projects across the globe. Because of the focus on investment in new projects, there has been a relative lack of focus and management attention on operations and maintenance of the existing production facilities.

oil refinery

With the price of oil dropping to $50 per barrel and many analysts predicting that these lower prices will last another two to three years, the oil companies have dramatically cut back on their investments in new large-scale projects. Capital projects that have been in planning for many years have been delayed or cancelled, just as the detailed design was due to start.

Shifting to Operational Focus

Instead of focusing on new investment, oil companies are focusing on maximizing the efficiency of the existing assets, leveraging recession-time economic theories. That means an increased focus on business operations and asset maintenance. However, spending on brownfield projects cannot simply stop without risking the productivity of the existing facilities and therefore affecting the bottom line of the company.

We are now seeing this behavior in many of our customers. While we are not necessarily seeing an increase in spending on brownfield projects, we do see widespread acknowledgement from the operations management within the industry that the brownfield projects are not effectively managed. And that makes sense: the money spent over the past few years in systems to support large-scale capital projects has not been replicated for brownfield projects.

Successful Brownfield Projects Strategies

As oil and gas companies look to better manage their brownfield projects, what should they be focused upon? We find five common attributes amongst our customers that are successfully managing their brownfield projects:

  • Getting control of and centralizing their current asset documentation and data. Because many plants were built decades ago, the information is captured on paper and stored in filing cabinets. Capturing this information electronically and, more importantly, organizing this information to support your critical operations processes is essential to success today and in the future.
  • Integrate documents and operations and maintenance data. Operational excellence requires more than just good document control; these documents must be well integrated with the business processes and systems that support these process.
  • CollabDesigning and implementing an effective Management of Change process for both documents and data. Even at plants that are several decades old – many would say especially at plants that are several decades old – change is a constant. It’s not enough to establish a baseline and live off of that information; successful organizations make sure that they are able to cope with changing information, both managing the change process and ensuring that the most current information is always available.
  • Extending the change processes outside of the organization to include partners. Given the number and global scope of contractors and suppliers that participate in brownfield projects, it’s critical to design both processes and systems that facilitate third-party organizations to share documents, comments, and participate in review and approval workflows.
  • Applying the same tools and processes for both large-scale capital projects and brownfield projects. EMC has developed solutions that enable organizations to follow industry best practices and keeping your projects on track. Successful customers are leveraging these same systems to successfully manage brownfield projects.

By focusing on these five areas should position oil and gas companies to not only increase their efficiencies and adapt to today’s low oil prices but also position them to manage their large-scale capital projects when the price of oil rebounds.

How are you focusing your business strategy in today’s oil and gas economy? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

Mapping the Future with Documentum Asset Operations Mobile

Chris McLaughlin

Chris McLaughlin

Chief Marketing Officer, Enterprise Content Division

Last month, I shared with you some of the inside details of Project Horizon, our next-generation, multi-tenant content platform that is meeting the new needs of today’s digital enterprises.

While all of us in the Enterprise Content Division are excited about this new platform, I don’t want to overlook other examples of innovation and the significant investments we continue to make in the Documentum platform. One example is our new mobile client for Documentum Asset Operations, which I sincerely believe provides another real glimpse into the future of enterprise content software.

Documentum Asset Operations is a complete, out-of-the-box solution that we have built on top of Documentum and our new D2 user interface for our Energy & Power PlantEngineering customers. It’s designed for maintenance workers to make is easy for them to find and access critical information to operate and maintain refineries, nuclear power plants, drilling platforms and other large capital assets. I should add that Documentum Asset Operations is a new solution that we launched just over a year ago and it has been a runaway success in the market, even outselling our more established Documentum Capital Projects solution.

Getting back to the subject, what makes Documentum Asset Operations Mobile so unique is not that it is a mobile content management client – which, in a way, it is – but that it is a fit-for-purpose application built solely for a specific use case. It’s not a preconfigured Documentum client running on an iPad, it’s a standalone iOS application built from the ground up for maintenance worker field queries.

Maintenance workers need an app that conforms to the way they do their work, not simply a refactored content management application or preconfigured user interface. This is why Continue reading

3 Ways to Drive Operational Excellence

Sean Baird

Sean Baird

Sean leads Energy and Engineering Industry solution marketing and market development for EMC’s Enterprise Content Division.

Earlier this month, EMC was one of several sponsors at IQPC’s Operational Excellence in Oil and Gas conference in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The conference featured industry experts and thought leaders, and among the highlights were a number of interesting presentations and panel discussions covering success stories and industry best practices.

As I have discussed in previous blog entries, lower oil prices have impacted operations in a number of different ways, and EMC has seen an impact on large-scale capital projects, with many energy companies being forced to reevaluate their capital investment in new projects.

For operating assets, the key to profitability with lower oil prices is increasing productivity and lowering operational costs. As was discussed in-depth at the conference, Operational Excellence principles can provide dramatic improvements to reliability, production, and compliance, while reducing the risk of incidents and downtime. Companies from Chevron to Shell to ConocoPhillips shared their approaches to achieving operational excellence, and it became clear that companies had three areas of focus to improve their operations.

Standardizing Operations

Power PlantStep one in achieving operational excellence is thoroughly understanding and documenting your critical business procedures. Several customers noted that it’s not enough to just document best practices and standard operating procedures; several speakers noted the challenges of adopting operational excellence in the field.

Over the two-day conference, a few best practices emerged: Continue reading