Author Archives: sw-blogs
Author Archives: sw-blogs
Since the decline in oil and natural gas prices since 2014, independent operators in the U.S. have struggled to find their footing. 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. So how do you sustain your business when oil floods the market?
Ernst and Young ‘s recent report explains how operators can move with the market to protect themselves from a financial bottoming-out. 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 three ideas for sustainability despite low commodity prices suggested were: operational excellence, aligned capital structure and building the right portfolio.
Low oil and gas prices affect everyone in the industry. Make your operations as agile as possible by looking at your office processes, systems and personnel. These three factors decide how fast you can make decisions, and what funds are needed to make your organization function.
Manage 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. Instead, focus on projects that require less capital and shorter payback periods to allow your company to move forward.
Many operators are selling off assets in a larger scale to stay afloat. As more and more assets continue to enter the market, companies gain assets that will help them grow in the future and increase equity are the ones that will come ahead when the prices begin to rise once again.
In our 24+ years in business working with oil and gas operators and accountants, we know that each business is unique in how and what processes it needs to handle revenue distributions. These processes are sometimes complex enough that a whole new software program is used. It’s why we often suggest clients customize their oil & gas accounting software to get more functionality.
Commons tasks often include: Delay Rental Payments, Authorization for Expenditure (AFE), Free House Gas, and State Reporting requirements. Most oil and gas accounting software programs will offer optional modules to make the standard software more functional.
This allows you to handle multiple tasks within one software program.
Smaller companies will often manage with spreadsheets. While sometimes cheaper, these aren’t as professional 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. The labor will affect your bottom line and sometimes you just don’t have the extra time.
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.
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:
Advanced Reporting (build your own reports)
At SherWare our goal is to help you run distributions accurately and quickly from the time you start with us. Here are five resources we’ve created to help you get software support quickly.
The first tool we recommend starting with is our step-by-step getting started guide. This succinct guide walks you through the process from installation to printing checks after completing your first distributions.
Clients who purchase at the professional or enterprise levels receive free consulting sessions with our lead support member. These online trainings coincide with the install, setup, entry, and processing tasks as the user works through them for the first time. On each call, the user’s progress is reviewed to make sure you’re on the right track and have time to get any questions answered. 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.
Our built-in Help File offers an organized explanation for every window and field within the software. Accessed by pressing F1 on any screen, the Help File gives 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.
Our video tutorial database offer short videos that walk you through to complete common tasks within 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.
Rated as the best in the industry, our support staff is available to answer support questions through phone, e-mail or via chat, depending on what level of support you feel suits your needs. 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 software support.
When you purchase new software, should you do a data conversion or to start from scratch? You save time by converting your data, so here’s what you should know before going through with the conversion.
A conversion is easiest if the data from reports in the current software system can be exported to a Microsoft Excel or comma delimited format.
The data a software system uses can be stored in several different formats. 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.
Choose what data you want to bring from your current oil & gas software system to the new software program. At a minimum, wells, owners 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) convert these amounts so that your first distribution can take them into account.
The rest of the historical data can wait until later.
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.
Wells, owners (both royalty and working) and their addresses, settings and the division of interests can be converted.
The historical information can sometimes be converted depending on the format from which the data is being converted.
Having your data converted won’t do much good if it can’t be done in a reasonably quick fashion.
When you’re going through the conversion process, you won’t be able to use your existing system until the conversion is complete. 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.
After the data is converted, run comparable reports in the existing software and new software to make sure balances and division of interests match.
If you convert historical data, 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. 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.
When looking for new oil & gas accounting software, select a program that will scale with your company. Here is a short list of characteristics that indicate a software program will scale with the growth of your company.
Flexible programs with many options and features allows you to handle many different situations. A rigid program limits data entry, processing, and corrections. These limitations will force you to change your process or handle special situations outside the program.
If the program offers optional modules, they allow you to add additional features needed as you grow.
Select software that can be installed on a server and workstations. You’ll also want a solid security process that allows multiple users with access to designated areas of the software is necessary.
Growing companies are often adding new employees, which results in a need for additional computers with access to the distribution.
New employees need to be brought up to speed quickly to run the distributions. Select a software that offers a variety of platforms for training and support.
General video tutorials give an overview of the program.
Help Files and manuals allow a new user to dig into the depths of a particular feature.
Live web training provides one on one discussion with an expert guiding the trainee through the setup process.
On-Site training helps when a group is being trained, but it is often costly and not as effective as several live web training.
A knowledgeable support desk allows you to quickly resolve any questions or issues that come up.
Seek out a software that provides most of these tools for smooth transitions as new employees are added.
Unique deals in the oil and gas industry 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.
An advanced reporting module gives you the ability to create your own reports is also a key feature for growing companies.
Switching oil & gas accounting software is hard. One of the reasons it’s hard is because of how it takes to transfer and train your office on a new system. It doesn’t have to be this way!
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.
Source: SherWare Blog
With the price of oil below $40, everyone in the industry need to cut costs. Here are 4 quick ways to cut costs during the oil & gas downturn.
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!
Source: SherWare Blog
Last week we discussed how to beef up your software security to avoid data breaches in your own office. One thing we glaringly left out was how much of a danger passwords are to cyberscares like Heartbleed in 2014 – a security bug that left around half a million of the Internet’s secure web servers certified by trusted authorizes vulnerable to the attack, which allowed the theft of private user’s sessions and passwords.
As we support many clients around the country, it is surprising how often people use generic passwords like Admin, Password, 1234, or their name. These passwords are worthless and you would be just as good not having one. Some may claim that a bad password is better than no password, but that is simply not the case with these as they are the first guesses that anyone is going to try. These are the equivalent of having 3 deadbolts on a door yet choosing to leave it unlocked because the door handle will keep the door latched and you feel the appearance of the 3 deadbolts will deter everyone from entering.
SplashData periodically releases a list of the worst passwords for a year. In 2013 these were the top 10 worst passwords:
Do any of these look familiar to you? If so, run to your computer and begin changing them now. While most security experts recommend have a unique password for every site you login to, it’s really impossible to ask of people to do.
Another common practice that we run into is that a password may be a secure one, but everyone in the office uses the same one, or everyone knows each other’s login. When a non-Admin employee can log in as any one of five users and gain access to permissions not assigned to their login, then the whole purpose behind the user permissions is compromised. Your office may be small enough that you are ok with that, but this should encourage you to reconsider.
Some people will create passwords that meet every qualification for top security, but will then stick them to the monitor with a Post-It note. While this is efficient against outside cyber attacks, it does no good for someone that is able to physically gain access to the computer. If you do need to write down your passwords then store them in a safe or other location that is not as easily accessible to everyone.
If you haven’t already stopped reading to check out your passwords, consider changing the ones that contain the most sensitive data of yours including personal and payment info. You can also check into apps and computer programs that save and create secure passwords so you don’t have to such as Dashlane and LastPass.
Source: SherWare Blog
Have you been hearing about all the cyber attacks happening at major corporations this year in the news or had to cancel your credit card because of the recent credit card hack at Target? These big cyber scares can mean serious problems for customers across the country – but did you know there are security breaches in your own office just as serious?
How many different software programs do you use at work on a daily basis? Between tracking your contacts, financials, sales, email, and much more, it’s starting to add up. The login process for all of these can be burdensome and often results in poor security practices. One sure way to beef up security in your office whether its big or small is to set user permissions for your most sensitive data.
Here are three signs that are typically an indication that user permissions should be used:
Computers are left unattended:
Many employees fulfill a number of roles within most companies. This will often force them to leave their computer for various tasks like stocking supplies, getting the mail, and running errands. Computers are often left on and logged in to several software programs. This may not be a problem in small closed office environments, but should be a concern as the number of people with access to the office increases. Typically the employees that require the most in depth access are located in less accessible areas of the office. Those in more public areas of the office may only need basic functionality for most of what they do. Limiting the access of those in more public areas ensures that even if an unauthorized person gets on the computer, they are not able to see confidential areas or accidentally change something.
In many companies the person at the front desk fulfills many roles and does need full access at times. A good security compromise in this situation is to have two user permissions setup for this person. One for basic access that allows them to complete the daily entry tasks, and another with full access for the times they are utilizing the depths of the program. The user can then still have access to everything at times, while choosing to have limited access at other times. This will help limit what can be seen and changed by anyone that happens to come across unattended computers.
Software security is not the only concern that is addressed by user permissions. Problems are often created by well-intended people that accidentally delete something while trying to look something up. Any employee that doesn’t use the software regularly can make mistakes while digging through the data. A great peace of mind can be obtained when someone knows that they can log on with limited access that will allow them to see their reports without chance of messing something up.
A great example would be the individual or department that handles Payroll. It is safe to assume that you trust this person, so security isn’t a concern. However, an occasion may arise where they need to perform a task that isn’t a part of their standard procedure. As they access a different parts of the software the possibility for mistakes increases. Since they don’t usually use the different windows, they may not recognize if something is deleted or manipulated incorrectly. Having user permissions that limit them to Payroll would force them to seek help from other employees that have more knowledge in the other areas which reduces the risk of mistakes.
It is a universal best practice to setup user permissions when software is installed or accessed across a network. With this setup it is likely that multiple people will be accessing the software. When networked, the software becomes much more accessible and the concerns from every other area mentioned become a greater concern. Security is also a concern, because without user permissions anyone in the office can now have access to the confidential aspects of the software.
Source: SherWare Blog
If you were to look around at all the marketing in our world today, you might be inclined to think that price is all that matters to make a sale. After all, why else would our inboxes be full each morning with special offers, one-day only sales and heavily discounted items we may have been looking at online in the past week?
We live in a world where, we, as consumers like to get good deals. But honestly, when asked, most people aren’t in it for the price.
So what are consumers looking for if isn’t the best deal?
“Of course price is important to customers, but it’s seldom the most important consideration. In fact, surveys of customers show that price is usually six or seven items down on the list of importance,” said Michael Boyette, executive editor at Rapid Learning Institute.
This trend is especially true when someone is purchasing software.
Why is price not the only factor involved?
First, not many companies who are shopping for software have the time to shop based on price alone. The majority of software companies – especially niche software companies don’t generously display their prices online. The reason? We too know that serious clients aren’t purchasing on price alone because there is too much risk involved.
Case in point: Let’s say Bobby wants to purchase oil and gas software. The reason he’s even looking for software is because he has a need for it. Either something about how he’s handling his oil and gas presently isn’t working for him, or he’s just starting his business and wants to start it off right.
If Bobby bases his research and purchase solely off of which software company has the best price – then he likely hasn’t taken the time to see if the software is capable of handling the specific issues he started looking for in the first place. He also doesn’t see the value of the software he just purchased because all that mattered was price – a lose-lose situation for both Bobby and the software company.
Bobby didn’t spend the time to qualify if the software could handle everything he was looking for or even if it was the best solution period for his needs. Now Bobby has a mediocre product, but an intact budget, and the software company has a new, but unhappy client who will cost them more time and money in the long run, and who will end up walking away to the next software company who can offer a solution at a cheaper price in the future.
So what does matter if price doesn’t when purchasing software?
“Customers will shop on price if they have no other way of differentiating you from your competition,” said Carolyn Higgins, president of Fortune Marketing Company.
Software purchases will ultimately come down to this: What is the company’s perceived value of the software and will it help alleviate their pain point?
You might opt out of purchasing a software program and say it’s because the price was too low or too high, but in reality, what you’re actually saying is that you didn’t go ahead with the purchase because you didn’t think the software was worth it. In your mind, you already have an idea of what value the software holds to you – and if what you’re looking at doesn’t reach that threshold – it doesn’t matter if it was the best deal or not.
The truth is that “people overvalue what they have, and undervalue what they don’t have,” said Neil Davidson in his book Don’t Roll the Dice.
Unless you can see the value of what the software can do for your company, you’ll go on price any day – and still not have the best solution for your business.
So how do you go about perceiving value?
“When somebody buys software, they want reassurance that it’s going to work and that you’ll be around if it doesn’t,” Davidson said.
Value is in what the software company can offer besides its price.
In Bobby’s search for oil and gas software – he places value in a product that has been used by others like him and that works well. If he’s doing the research, Bobby will want to know that others have used the software and what they think about it. If he’s going to invest time and money in this search, he probably also wants to see how the software works, ask some detailed questions of the support staff and understand what exactly will it take for him to get up and running.
In truth, he’s looking for the support system behind the software. The people. Their values. The way they run their business. Does it align with what he needs? Once Bobby has those questions answered, then he’s likely ready to buy and price won’t matter – whether it’s higher or lower than competitors.
What do you value when searching for software?
Source: SherWare Blog