All Posts by sw-blogs

How to still be successful in today’s era of oil abundance

Since the decline in oil and natural gas prices since 2014, there’s been a massive shift among independent operators in the U.S. to find their footing amid crude price declines and worldwide political triggers in changing the global pricing. Thanks to the hydraulic fracturing technology that has opened up the doors to more-easily accessible shale oil, we’ve entered into an era of oil abundance.

Ernst and Young has come out with an interesting report explaining how operators can move with the market to protect themselves from the financial bottoming-out so many independent operators are currently going through. We have no affiliation or ties to Ernst and Young, but I  found the article interesting to see as a whole how the independent operators (our entire client base) is handling the rocky oil and gas climate today.

The article offers three ideas for sustainability despite low commodity prices: operational excellence, aligned capital structure and building the right portfolio.

Operational Excellence

Low oil and gas prices affect everyone in the industry — no matter what mix of oil and gas commodities you handle, how much financial strength you have or what part of the United States you’re in. By focusing on your operation to make it as agile as possible, you take a look at your office processes, systems and personnel to streamline how fast you can make decisions and on how much is actually needed to make your organization function without continuing to sink funds.

Aligned Capital Structure

To adapt to shifting investor expectations, Ernst and Young suggests managing how your cash flows and cover debt payments right now. To move forward into the future, operators will need to step away from mega-projects with high operational risks involved, and focus on projects that require less capital and shorter payback periods to allow your company to move forward.

Building the Right Portfolio

In today’s climate, many operators are selling off assets in a larger scale to stay afloat as prolonged low pricing continues to plague the industry. As more and more assets continue to enter the market, companies who can identify and close on assets that will help them not only grow in the future, but also give them equity to help ease concern over market uncertainty are the ones that will come ahead when the prices begin to rise once again.

Read the full article and it’s analysis.


Source: SherWare Blog

How Adding Optional Modules to Software Will Save You Money

A variety of processes are managed by oil and gas operators that require more management than just the normal distribution of revenue and expenses. These processes are sometimes complex enough that a whole new software program is used to manage all that is involved with it.

Many of these tasks like Delay Rental Payments, Authorization for Expenditure (AFE), Free House Gas, and State Reporting requirements are needed for many operators. Since these processes are so common among operators many distribution programs include optional modules that accommodate the management needed for each.

This allows you to handle multiple tasks within one software program instead of having to purchase a completely separate program to manage just this one aspect of your operation. A simple add-on is typically all that is needed and is much cheaper then purchasing a complete software program that was wholly designed for a specific process.

Smaller companies will often just handle the few situations that they need to manage with spreadsheets. This sometimes seems cheaper, however these are less professional looking and can be timely to use and update as your company grows. Mistakes are often made with spreadsheets and these can quickly become costly in terms of both money and public image.

The time spent managing your spreadsheets should also be considered since the labor will affect your bottom line and sometimes you just don’t have the extra time to complete certain tasks. When mistakes, public image, labor, and peace of mind are all factored in, it quickly becomes obvious that the cost of an add-on module is a huge savings over the assumed free spreadsheet processes that we often encounter.

A simple add-on module allows for better historical records, a more professional look, and any costs are typically recouped in only a few months.

Some of the optional modules SherWare offers clients include:

AFEs

Land Management/Delay Rental Payments

House Gas

Payroll

Direct Deposit

Online Reporting

Offsite Backup

MICR Check Printing

Document Manager

Advanced Reporting (build your own reports)

Cloud Version of the Software

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Source: SherWare Blog

Hidden Software Costs and How to Avoid Them

The initial price of the software is typically pretty clear. However, people are often surprised Hidden_Software_Blog_graphic.pngwhen they run into various charges down the road. When picking a software program it is important to ask about any future costs that may be involved. Here are two charges that are the most irritating to run into after you purchase and how to not be surprised by them.

Software Updates/Upgrades

Many software companies sell the software wholly for a stand-alone price. buyer will then need to re-purchase every few years or purchase any major upgrades that are released. These updates are necessary so that the software will continue to work with all other new technology that is released each year. When not expected, these charges can be surprising and discouraging.

The best way to avoid this is to purchase a software program that offers a yearly maintenance or support contract that includes all updates. These contracts are generally cheaper than re-purchasing the software every few years. This allows you to more easily see what the ongoing costs are going to be and budget accordingly.

Expired Support Contracts

The oil & gas industry is always changing and updates are regularly needed for newer operating systems, 1099s, regulation changes, and various other reasons. To save money, some clients will try to skip out of a year of support. The intention is to save the money this year and then just renew later only if it is needed, or to simply skip out of paying support for a few years. This typically doesn’t work very well as most software companies require that you purchase past updates as well.

When a support contract is used for updates, then a fee is typically charged to be reinstated to support. The result is that the savings weren’t very much and typically not worth the hassle. Software is typically only supported for a set number of years and if you skip out on support for the duration of that period, then you may find yourself in a spot where you have to re-purchase the software because support is no longer available for your version.

To avoid the costs associated with re-establishing a support contract it is best to simply maintain your relationship with the software provider by staying current on support. This is typically the cheapest way to maintain long term use of a software program.

 

What other hidden software costs have you run into?

5 Resources You Don’t Want to Ignore When Starting with SherWare

Operators have continuously raved about the assistance they receive when migrating their distribution into one of the SherWare programs. The direction and assistance provided by  and helpful. Several resources can be used to quickly acquire the knowledge needed for accurate distributions. Let’s look at some of the resources for quickly succeeding with SherWare that are available.

Getting Started Guide:

This guide provides a short step by step explanation of the complete process for everything from installation to printing checks after your first distribution. It is the first tool that should be used by anyone getting started with SherWare whether they just purchased the software or are a new employee for someone already using it.

Consulting Sessions:

A series of training sessions that are included with every purchase. These coincide with the install, setup, entry, and processing tasks as the user works through them for the first time. The user’s progress is reviewed to ensure they are on the right track. Any questions are answered and discussed until fully understood. Guidance is given for the next few tasks that will need to be completed prior to the next session. This has proven to be an invaluable experience for new users as they quickly achieve a confidence in the setup and processing of their distributions.

Help File:

An organized explanation for every window and field within the software along with topical explanations of various processes handled in SherWare. This allows the user to quickly identify what each window and field is used for. The Help File represents the information that would normally be in a User Manual. Many tips, tricks, and shortcuts can be learned when skimming through the information provided within.

Video Tutorials:

A collection of how to videos on common areas of the software. They provide a visual learning experience for those that don’t enjoy digging into the written documentation as much. You can see the software in action as various tasks are explained.

Support:

Often overlooked by some is technical support. Simply call or email SherWare support with any questions that you have and they will be happy to give you a timely answer. While the other resources are helpful, sometimes you just need to talk to someone for validation or direction.

With all of the tools available you can be confident in an efficient and accurate transition into SherWare.

Find out more about our support.


Source: SherWare Blog

4 Things to Consider When Considering a Data Conversion

To Convert or Not Convert

data-conversionWhen purchasing new software, one of the first things you need to consider is whether to convert your existing data to the new system or to start from scratch and enter everything manually. Converting your current data can be a huge time-saver, so here are some things you should consider before going through with the conversion.

1. In what format is the current data stored or what format can it be exported to for conversion?

The easiest way for a conversion to be done is if the data from reports in the current software system can be exported to a Microsoft Excel or comma delimted format. The reason for this is that when the data shows on a report it has been translated into a format that can be understood.

The data a software system uses can be stored in several different formats and terminology used for the table and field names are most often cryptic and only make sense to the software developer. Having the data appear on a report with common column names such as “Well ID”, makes it much easier to convert.

2. What data should be converted?

You usually have a choice of what data from your current oil & gas software system to bring over to the new system. At a minimum the Wells, Owners and Division of Interests should be converted since that is the heart of the system.

What about historical data? The answer is, “it depends”. What condition is your historical data in? Is it clean? If not, do you want to go through it and clean it up before the conversion? Do you want to include wells that have been sold or that are now inactive?

If you keep track of suspense, such as owner amounts on hold, owners under your check minimum and owners in deficit, you should convert these amounts so that your first distribution can take them into account.

The rest of the historical data can wait until later. So that gives you some time to decide.

3. What data can be converted?

After you decide what data you want converted, you need to find out what data can be converted to the new format and who needs to do the conversion. Most application vendors will do the conversion for you for an added fee, SherWare included. The data in an accounting, revenue distribution and joint interest billing system is intricately woven together in such a way that the conversion needs to be handled with care so that all the related records are kept together.

The list of wells along with their information, the list of owners, royalty and working, and their addresses and settings and the division of interests can always be converted.

The historical information can sometimes be converted depending on the format the from which the data is being converted.

4. How long will the conversion take?

Having your data converted won’t do much good if it can’t be done in a reasonably quick fashion. To convert the data, the current system needs to not change while the data is converted to the new system or you’ll have to enter any new transactions into the new system once the data is converted. If the data can be converted quickly, there will be no down time for your processing.

Most data conversions we do at SherWare take three days or less depending on the format of the information. Comma delimited and Excel files convert the quickest. Text files come in at a close second and other formats take longer.

What to do after a data conversion

After the data is converted, it’s good to run comparable reports in the current software and the new software to make sure balances match, and to check that the division of interests are correct.

If the historical data has been converted you would want to check the balances on well history and owner history reports. Especially if you plan to create 1099s on the new system for the current year.

Converting to a new software system doesn’t need to be hard and filled with pain and dread. If you take the steps to make sure your data is converted properly then you should be able to take off running with your new software system and never look back.


Source: SherWare Blog

Invest in Oil & Gas Software that Scales With Your Growth

When the decision is made to migrate your operation to a modern system, it is important to seek out a program that you will be able to use with a high level of satisfaction for a long time. Selecting a program that will scale with your company will prevent you from Depositphotos_13185291_original.jpghaving to go through this change again in the future. Here is a short list of characteristics that are an indication that a software program will scale with the growth of your company.

Adaptability

The presence of many options and features allows you to handle many different situations as you can adapt the setup for each situation that arises. A rigid program that limits your data entry, processing, and corrections will force you to either change your process, or handle special situations outside the program.

Options available at every level will increase the amount of unique situations that can be handled seamlessly with a normal routine. The availability of optional modules can also allow you to add common capabilities that are needed among some but not all operators. You can skip these while you are small, then add them as needed while your operation develops.

Network Capability

Many smaller operators will have one person that handles everything while larger operators may have whole departments designated for various tasks. Growing companies are often adding new employees which results in a need for additional computers with access to the distribution. Be sure to select a software that can easily accommodate installation on a server and any additional workstations as they are needed. A solid security process that allows the setup of multiple users with access to designated areas of the software is also a necessity.

Learning Curve

New employees will quickly need to be brought up to speed so they can become proficient with the distribution process in a short time. Select a software that offers a variety of platforms for training and support.

General video tutorials can give an overview of the program while Help Files and manuals can allow a new user to dig into the depths of a particular feature.

Live web training provides for a one on one discussion that allow an expert to guide the trainee through the process the first time while efficiently answering any questions that they have.

On-Site training can be helpful in some situations when a group is being trained, but it is often costly and not as effective as several one on one web based sessions with one or two trainees.

A knowledgeable support desk is also a huge benefit as it will allow you to quickly resolve any questions or issues that arise during the process. Seek out a software that provides all or most of these tools to ensure smooth transitions as new employees are added.
Customization

The unique deals that are made in the oil and gas industry on a regular basis can create challenges that no software program or process would have ever dreamt up. Some software companies are willing to create custom processes and reports for just your company.

A willingness to work with the user and create custom processes will assure you that you will be able to tackle any new challenges that appear.

Selecting a program with an advanced reporting module that gives you the ability to create your own reports is also a key feature for growing companies.

A software program with the above features are a necessity as you transition into a new program. They will provide peace of mind that you are ready to handle anything that comes your way as your company develops over the next few decades.


Source: SherWare Blog

5 Tips To Help Speed Up Switching Oil & Gas Accounting Software

Switching oil & gas accounting software is hard. One of the reasons it’s hard is the amount of time it takes to get all your data switched over and everyone up to speed on how to operate the new software. It doesn’t have to be this way!

switching-traintrack.png

Here are 5 tips for helping to speed up the switch:

  1. Come up with an execution plan of what needs to be done when. It’s much easier to switch from your current oil & gas accounting software to a new system if you know the steps that need to be done. Having a deadline for each of the steps also helps move the project along more quickly. Part of this plan should also spell out who is responsible for each action item.
  2. Plan the switchover during an accounting down-time. You need your accounting system every day but there are times during the month that you can’t do with out it. Those times are when you need to process a revenue distribution or joint interest billing. Plan to execute the software switch at the slowest accounting time between processing cycles. This will make the switchover less stressful and help to make it run more smoothly.
  3. Along with Step 2 above, determine the best cut off time for your current data to be converted to the new accounting system. The best time to do a conversion is when you don’t have many open items hanging around. This is most usually right after a distribution processing cycle before you’ve started entering data for the next cycle.
  4. Schedule training with your SherWare support team to help get your team the information they need when they need it. You need to learn the new oil & gas accounting system and you need to learn it quick. We’ve developed a training program that works for you and is included with your software purchase. The training is broken into “bite-sized” chunks that gets you the information you need and helps you to digest it. You’re working with your data during the training which helps to make the procedures “real”.
  5. This may seem counter-intuitive and not inline with the topic of speeding up your conversion to a new oil & gas accounting system, but confidence is crucial. One of the best things you can do to speed up the conversion is to make everyone confident that you’re getting the right information out of the new accounting system. The best way to do this is to run a parallel revenue distribution or joint interest billing. Ideally you’ll have a small run that you can do in both systems that will allow you to compare the numbers. Once you see that you’re getting the right results you can move forward confidently.

We at SherWare have helped hundreds of companies move from their current oil & gas accounting software to SherWare successfully. We can help you do the same.

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Source: SherWare Blog

5 Tips To Help Speed Up Switching Oil & Gas Accounting Software

Switching oil & gas accounting software is hard. One of the reasons it’s hard is the amount of time it takes to get all your data switched over and everyone up to speed on how to operate the new software. It doesn’t have to be this way!

switching-traintrack.png

Here are 5 tips for helping to speed up the switch:

  1. Come up with an execution plan of what needs to be done when. It’s much easier to switch from your current oil & gas accounting software to a new system if you know the steps that need to be done. Having a deadline for each of the steps also helps move the project along more quickly. Part of this plan should also spell out who is responsible for each action item.
  2. Plan the switchover during an accounting down-time. You need your accounting system every day but there are times during the month that you can’t do with out it. Those times are when you need to process a revenue distribution or joint interest billing. Plan to execute the software switch at the slowest accounting time between processing cycles. This will make the switchover less stressful and help to make it run more smoothly.
  3. Along with Step 2 above, determine the best cut off time for your current data to be converted to the new accounting system. The best time to do a conversion is when you don’t have many open items hanging around. This is most usually right after a distribution processing cycle before you’ve started entering data for the next cycle.
  4. Schedule training with your SherWare support team to help get your team the information they need when they need it. You need to learn the new oil & gas accounting system and you need to learn it quick. We’ve developed a training program that works for you and is included with your software purchase. The training is broken into “bite-sized” chunks that gets you the information you need and helps you to digest it. You’re working with your data during the training which helps to make the procedures “real”.
  5. This may seem counter-intuitive and not inline with the topic of speeding up your conversion to a new oil & gas accounting system, but confidence is crucial. One of the best things you can do to speed up the conversion is to make everyone confident that you’re getting the right information out of the new accounting system. The best way to do this is to run a parallel revenue distribution or joint interest billing. Ideally you’ll have a small run that you can do in both systems that will allow you to compare the numbers. Once you see that you’re getting the right results you can move forward confidently.

We at SherWare have helped hundreds of companies move from their current oil & gas accounting software to SherWare successfully. We can help you do the same.

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Invest in Oil & Gas Software that Scales With Your Growth

When the decision is made to migrate your operation to a modern system, it is important to seek out a program that you will be able to use with a high level of satisfaction for a long time. Selecting a program that will scale with your company will prevent you from Depositphotos_13185291_original.jpghaving to go through this change again in the future. Here is a short list of characteristics that are an indication that a software program will scale with the growth of your company.

Adaptability

The presence of many options and features allows you to handle many different situations as you can adapt the setup for each situation that arises. A rigid program that limits your data entry, processing, and corrections will force you to either change your process, or handle special situations outside the program.

Options available at every level will increase the amount of unique situations that can be handled seamlessly with a normal routine. The availability of optional modules can also allow you to add common capabilities that are needed among some but not all operators. You can skip these while you are small, then add them as needed while your operation develops.

Network Capability

Many smaller operators will have one person that handles everything while larger operators may have whole departments designated for various tasks. Growing companies are often adding new employees which results in a need for additional computers with access to the distribution. Be sure to select a software that can easily accommodate installation on a server and any additional workstations as they are needed. A solid security process that allows the setup of multiple users with access to designated areas of the software is also a necessity.

Learning Curve

New employees will quickly need to be brought up to speed so they can become proficient with the distribution process in a short time. Select a software that offers a variety of platforms for training and support.

General video tutorials can give an overview of the program while Help Files and manuals can allow a new user to dig into the depths of a particular feature.

Live web training provides for a one on one discussion that allow an expert to guide the trainee through the process the first time while efficiently answering any questions that they have.

On-Site training can be helpful in some situations when a group is being trained, but it is often costly and not as effective as several one on one web based sessions with one or two trainees.

A knowledgeable support desk is also a huge benefit as it will allow you to quickly resolve any questions or issues that arise during the process. Seek out a software that provides all or most of these tools to ensure smooth transitions as new employees are added.
Customization

The unique deals that are made in the oil and gas industry on a regular basis can create challenges that no software program or process would have ever dreamt up. Some software companies are willing to create custom processes and reports for just your company.

A willingness to work with the user and create custom processes will assure you that you
will be able to tackle any new challenges that appear.

 

Selecting a program with an advanced reporting module that gives you the ability to create your own reports is also a key feature for growing companies.

A software program with the above features are a necessity as you transition into a new program. They will provide peace of mind that you are ready to handle anything that comes your way as your company develops over the next few decades.

4 Ways To Cut Costs During the Oil & Gas Downturn

cost-cutting.jpg

These are hard times in the Oil & Gas Industry. With the price of oil below $40, all of us in the industry need to cut costs. Here are 4 quick ways to cut costs during the downturn.

  1. Look at your credit card and bank statements to look for recurring charges that can be eliminated. You’ll be surprised by how many services or subscriptions you might have signed up for and forgotten. It might not seem like much but these charges add up quickly. Cancel all subscriptions and services you aren’t using or can do without.
  2. Cut back on company paid lunches and other special perks. You really don’t need to go out for lunch everday but you can if you want. Just don’t make the company pick up the tab. These meals can add up quickly to hundreds of dollars a month.
  3. Hold off on hiring new people until you find ways to justify and pay for them. Too often we hire because we think we see a need but don’t take into account what those wages will do to the bottom line. Will hiring increase efficiences and add to the bottom line? If so, go for it. Otherwise be hesitant to add overhead.
  4. Look at other high cost items you’re using that might have made economic sense during high prices, but now are a drain on cash. One of these could be your monthly software costs. If you’re using an Oil & Gas Accounting system that made sense during $80 oil but now isn’t giving you enough in return for it’s on-going maintenance costs, it might make sense to switch to a lower cost alternative that has the same functionality.

We’ve helped many companies switch away from their high cost oil & gas accounting software to SherWare. The benefits include lower yearly costs for maintenance and increased productivty for your current staff. This is a win/win because you can cut costs and avoid adding more wages!

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Source: SherWare Blog

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