Today, the energy industry is standing at the forefront of innovation. Not only are organizations investing more resources into new and exciting forms of energy, but many companies are also revamping their legacy business operations to take advantage of more efficient technological solutions. These technologies can automate much of what once had to be done manually in the energy sector, helping modern companies get work done more efficiently and effectively.

However, when transitioning to a new technology such as software, there will be some speed bumps along the way—especially after implementation. As a result, decision makers often find themselves in situations where they are reevaluating efficiencies, especially when roadblocks occur.

Make no mistake, software can sometimes be the culprit. For example, problems can pop up due to poor communication between a tech vendor and a company. The vendor might have been under the impression that the company wanted to address one set of issues with its software when, in reality, the company’s goal was to address a different set altogether. Communication is key, and having a software vendor with in-depth knowledge and long-standing industry expertise helps alleviate miscommunications, especially when process problems are easily avoided with experience from prior customer case scenarios that come with longevity.

Take payouts, for example. Many operators use manual workaround processes that have been in place for years. These workarounds can make it difficult to accurately report gross revenue when take-in-kind owners are involved. If employees aren’t properly trained in the new automation software, they might fall back on old manual methods and create discrepancies in the system. So, this isn’t a problem with the software itself, but with how the vendor is accurately addressing your organization’s training, concerns and encouraging employee usage of the new resources available to them.

Whether you’re looking at an issue with gas balancing or an error in 1099 reporting, there are plenty of areas where either business processes or software could be at fault. If you assume it’s one over the other, you might as well just be flipping a coin and hoping for the best.

Getting to the True Root of Business Inefficiencies

Suppose a problem occurs because of an inefficiency caused by software or by existing business processes. How do you determine the actual source of the issue so you can properly fix it? Start by asking yourself these three questions:

1. What actions lead to the problem?

Start by having the person who identified the problem go through their entire process again step by step. It’s important that they explain what they did and how they did it, ensuring that nothing is left out. You can draw up an outline of your organization’s business structure to identify issues or inconsistencies more easily in the software setup process that could be the root cause of the problem. The goal is for you to recreate the situation yourself to determine whether there are any faults or inefficiencies in the software you use or in a business process.

2. Where does the problem show up?

Is the problem coming from an input, a machine process, or an output? The easiest way to answer this question is to find someone in or outside your organization with a deep history or expertise in the problem area you’re focusing on. Support solution specialists who have experienced similar scenarios will have a much easier time identifying where exactly the problem or inefficiency is coming from. If the issue isn’t ringing any bells for anyone, then be prepared to be patient—finding the answer to this question can be time-consuming.

3. If you complete the same process manually, will the outcome be the same?

Although it can be tedious, manually running through the process can be a very useful step—especially if everything else has failed to locate the cause of the issue. If you come up with the same errors, then you can safely assume the problem is in the business process, not the software. If something else happens, then that variance can help you pinpoint exactly where inconsistencies occur.

When a problem arises, instead of making assumptions, ask yourself these three questions to determine what the problem is and where it’s coming from. That way, your business will be working at the highest, most efficient level.

About the author: Vince Dawkins, president and CEO of Enertia Software, has worked with industry-leading organizations, and he has been integral in developing the Enertia application into a resource used by over 150 leaders in the upstream oil and gas industry.