Monthly Archives: September 2010

Five technologies to propel your oil & gas business forward – Part 1

The five technologies listed below have not only revolutionized how the business world works today – but also how productive businesses have become.

A few of the items on my list here may seem like a joke, but I kid you not. Not everyone uses these technologies to their benefit – or to the benefit of boosting their business, which is precisely why it’s important to understand how they can help your oil and gas business, or any business for that matter, move forward.

Using technology

1. Computers – This seems like a no-brainer, but as obvious as it seems, not all businesses are utilizing their computers to the fullest even if they own one. Many of you out there like me can’t imagine a world without computers. I grew up with computers and can’t even fathom the fact that original computers took up entire rooms.

To show how completely dominate computers are in our society, check out these two facts:

– In 2008, Gartner, Inc., a technology research company, announced the number of installed PCs worldwide had reached 1 billion – with 58 percent of those computers in the United States, Japan and Western Europe, and that this number will surpass 2 billion by 2014.

– Secondly, I know elementary students, ELEMENTARY students, who are taking typing classes in the second and third grades, and are expected to be able to type 35 words per minute by the end of the year. These are children that can probably type faster than most businessmen I know, and they may even be your children.

The point is – computers are one facet of technology you absolutely have to embrace. Not only are computers now affordable, but they also are customizable for your business and they will improve your productivity by 500 percent. Now that’s not scientific number, just a hypothesis from my experience.

Computers give you a secure location to electronically store all your documents, records, client data, financials, etc. You can back up that data and prevent a catastrophe in your office in the event that some disaster destroyed every paper document you needed. It also is commutable, meaning you can take your work with you, complete your work anywhere. And this is only the tip of the iceberg as far as computer benefits go.

I personally am on my computer 95% of my time at work and almost consider it an extension of myself. Everything I do from my tasks, to to-do lists, projects, research, client contact, etc is stored on my laptop that conveniently can travel with me wherever I need to go.

2. High Speed Internet – And by high-speed Internet, I’m not talking about the kind where you have to go connect your modem to your telephone and wait for it to dial before you can even think about getting online. I’m talking about instant connection to the Internet: a magical place where downloads take minutes instead of hours, and web pages appear in seconds instead of having to wait and wait and wait for the page to show up on your computer.

If you know anything about our society today, you know it is one that’s not exactly patient. In the business world, speed equals money. The faster you can make decisions and complete your job, the more efficient and productive you are.

If you are currently saddled with a dial-up or slower connection to the Internet, I would seriously consider checking out other options for getting a faster connection for your business needs.

Check out the last three technologies in my next post.

Best Computer Practices Your Users Should Practice

Most people can understand and read English. Not everyone today can understand and use a computer proficiently though – a skill highly valuable in today’s rapidly growing technological world. Here are five best practices I’ve adapted from an article at TechRepublic to make sure the users at your company know how to do when working with computers.

computer best practices1. Reboot before going for help.

While rebooting may not solve every computer problem you experience, it oddly enough does often fix errors, software functionality problems and other oddities you sometimes experience when using a computer. I don’t know the science behind it, but more often than not, rebooting your computer will fix weird quirks you suddenly start experiencing, which can save you and your IT guys time before you run to help.

2. Think critically about the errors and problems you experience.

No matter what type of computer support you’re talking to, all technicians will want to know the answer to these questions:

– What were you doing when you received the error message or  first noticed the problem?

– What was the specific error number and message if you received an error?

– Can you reproduce the problem? (Meaning, was it a one-time thing or does it consistently happen to you?)

Many software programs have features that will capture a lot of this data automatically and allow you to send it to their support to be fixed. Not all programs do though, so it’s important to train your users to think with these questions in mind so that they can get any issues resolved quickly by giving support this information needed to replicate your problem.

3. Protect passwords. Period.

If – and I highly recommend it – your company uses security on the computers at your office, teach your users to keep their passwords safe, and by safe I don’t mean on a sticky note attached to the screen. When users make passwords available for anyone to find and access, it negates your security and data integrity.

4. Prevent data loss.

Backups of data aren’t automatic, so make sure your users understand that if they delete something within the software program and it wasn’t backed up, it may not be recoverable. See my previous post on why data matters.

5. Double-check before you click send.

Several times per month I receive emails accidentally sent to me by clients. Although the results are not always bad, e-mails you send for work often contain sensitive or confidential information which could lead to embarrassing or potential damaging results if the wrong person receives the info you are sending.

Make sure you double check the sender you’ve entered in your e-mails before you press send to make sure it’s who you intend to send the email to.

What do you think? What other best practices would you recommend for your users? Let me know what to add to this list.

Why Data Matters For Your Oil & Gas Business

This week, I’d like to tackle two topics relating to computers and some best practices you want to make sure you and your company are implementing.

When you think about the duties you perform at work each day, how many of you can unequivocally say that you use data to complete your job? I would be shocked if everyone’s hands weren’t up right now. Data is the driving force in the work place today and it’s important to understand precisely why data matters.oil and gas data matters

Data matters because it controls how we operate our businesses and make decisions on a daily, hourly even minute-ly, (if it was a word) basis. For those in the oil and gas industry, you use data to make decisions on how a well is performing, how much money is owed to you or how much you owe your investors, if you want to continue with the well you’re drilling, just as starters.

To me, the data you gather is the reason you are in business, which is why it’s imperative you protect the data you’re gathering, and understand how to get the most out of your data. Even if I gathered all the data I could, and stored in on my computer, it wouldn’t do me any good if I can’t interpret it.

Here are my suggestions for protecting and interpreting your data.

How to protect data

The two most important steps I want to share on protecting data are: 1. Use the security settings available on your computer and software programs you use regularly. Protecting data doesn’t just mean protecting it from loss, but also preserving the integrity of your data.

If the software programs you use at work have security settings, use them! Set access restrictions on data and applications for all users so that only those with permission can access the data driving your business.

With SherWare’s software, in addition to using Windows’ security settings for your office, you can also set security settings for what functions and reports users can access with our software.

2. Regularly backup your data. People recommend backing up your data monthly, weekly, daily, or even more often. How often you decide to back up your data at work can be determined by this rule of thumb: How much data can you afford to lose if your system completely crashes?If you can re-enter a week’s worth of data in the event of a system crash, then only backup once per week, for others, you’re probably thinking daily or even hourly.

Once you have the frequency set for how often you want to back up your data, make a plan for how many backups to complete and where to store them. It’s not ridiculous to 1) Do a backup 2) Make a backup of that backup 3) Make a backup of that backup and then 4) Make one more copy of the backup and store it in a location other than your office, in the case of fire, flood, destruction, etc.

We get countless emails and calls per week to our Support Desk asking if there’s any way to get back their oil and gas accounting software data after their computer crashes. Without a backup, sadly, the answer is no.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Data:

1. Decide what information, trends, reports, figures, etc. that you’d like to collect from your data. What info do you use regularly at work to get your job done?

2. Brainstorm what data you still need/want to make your job easier and more efficient. What other reports or lists of info would be beneficial in helping you make decisions? What else do higher-ups in the chain of command ask for regularly?

3. Learn how to use the programs needed to get this data from. Is there any data you’ve added to your list that you can’t find how to access? Utilitize help files, training sessions and by asking the support teams available how to access this information.

4. Make sure the software you’re using has the ability to give you the information you want and in a timely matter. Again – your data is useless to you unless you can interpret it.

Loss of data and data integrity or not understanding how to interpret your data can set your company back a lot of money and hours, days, even weeks in time, restoring that data.

Save your company time and money by treating your data as the valuable commodity it is. Is there anything that you’d add to this list from your own experiences?

Learn more about SherWare’s data backup services and training options on our website to get the most out of your data.

Natural Gas Future Looks Bright for North Carolina

More than 20 years after beginning to collect geological data in North Carolina, Jeffrey Reid, senior geologist of the North Carolina Geological Survey, says his years of research indicate a strong likelihood of recovering natural gas in the state – a state considered to have no sedimentary basins in the past.

north carolina oil and gasIn the American Oil & Gas Reporter’s August issue, Reid says the reason they are just now discovering natural gas possibilities in North Carolina, is that in the past, the focus had been on coalbed methane or oil exploration, and that most of the wells had been drilled too shallow because of poor seismic data.

In the past 75 years or so, 128 petroleum exploration wells have been drilled in North Carolina, none of them commercial, according to a report produced by the North Carolina Geological Survey in March 2009.

Reid also said in the article that the next step the state will have to accomplish is to update the oil and gas laws that date back to 1945 and don’t permit recent drilling innovations like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Interestingly, North Carolina News Observer staff writer John Murawski wrote an article about the natural gas potential in the Lee, Chatham, Durham and Wake counties in April 2010 confirming Reid’s data.

Murawski wrote, “Geologists estimate the formations cover nearly 1,400 square miles and could contain enough natural gas to supply the state’s energy needs for about 40 years at current levels of usage. North Carolina relies heavily on natural gas to run electric power plants, to fuel industrial operations and to heat homes and offices.”

His article also discusses realities of changing the oil and gas laws, dealing with land acquisition and exploration wells and reactions of locals and state officials of these recent findings.

Read the whole article here.

To those of you in the coastal state, are these assessments accurate? What does the future of natural gas look like for North Carolina from your perspective?