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Helping an Oil and Gas Company Maximize a Business Intelligence Investment

Energy and Utilities | Analytics Services



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A Fortune 500 oil and gas company began a major infrastructure upgrade as part of a multiyear growth plan. They faced both technical problems and user adoption obstacles in the process. TEKsystems remediated the technical issues and implemented a plan to expand user adoption.

The client is a Fortune 500 energy company that engages in crude oil and gas exploration and production. Headquartered in Houston, they operate throughout the U.S. and offshore in West Africa and the Mediterranean.

Oil and gas is an extraordinarily competitive and expensive industry. Companies operate in a volatile market in which prices fluctuate rapidly and greatly. They also face high production costs and significant financial risks related to exploration and extraction. In addition, government regulations and political developments can change the landscape dramatically.

With these challenges, along with heavy competition from other players, the success of oil and gas companies rests on their ability to achieve operational efficiencies and prudent fiscal management. Given the need for careful management as well as the agility to pivot with changing conditions, many oil and gas companies are adopting advanced business intelligence (BI) solutions.

BI solutions can drive efficiencies in operations, such as reducing waste, negotiating the best procurement deals and managing staff. The rich business insights BI provides can also help foster sound financial and portfolio management.

But BI systems cannot exist in a vacuum. Successfully implementing BI depends on integrating and reconciling data from multiple sources to create an accurate view of company trends. Frequently, achieving accurate and fast BI requires upgrading or overhauling technology infrastructure. It also relies on the company’s employees embracing the system. If either of these components fails to happen, businesses can find themselves left with an expensive but essentially worthless investment.

Oracle Business Intelligence Applications, Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, Informatica

Looking to enhance their operational efficiency and poise themselves for future changes, the client embarked on a five-year plan to upgrade their IT infrastructure. They specifically wished to transform seven business processes related to finance and human resources, including the procurement life cycle, hiring and turnover, asset planning and accounts receivables.

The first phase of this business transformation was to purchase Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) software and restructure their technology stack. The client hired a third-party vendor to build a new data warehouse and implement OBIEE.

With 10 data sources, the client had trouble integrating different types of information to create a clear picture of business processes. The lack of integration created inefficiencies and obstacles, including the slow, manual collection of data, time spent reconciling different versions of the data, and an inability to produce a unified version of the truth. The client wished to remove barriers to data integration, improve seven critical business processes, and create a platform capable of scaling with their business.

After making this change, the client faced two problems that prevented them from realizing full return on investment. First, the data load time, in which data was fed into their warehouse and rendered for reports and dashboards, was slow, meaning users weren’t receiving up-to-date data. Many of the individual reports were also slow to retrieve data from the system, causing frustrated users to abandon the reports. Even without the slow data, many users, particularly in the finance department, were unwilling to adopt the new technology. Many circumvented the new system, preferring to rely on older Oracle Discoverer reports to load data into Excel spreadsheets, where they would manually manipulate it.

The client called on Oracle to perform a health check of their implementation and make recommendations for how to increase return on their investment. Based on a long partnership with TEKsystems and our expertise in implementing their products, Oracle asked us to participate in a joint assessment.

During the assessment, Oracle and TEKsystems uncovered the causes of technical problems. We also made several recommendations for building a formal user adoption plan. Based on Oracle’s advice, the client hired TEKsystems to fix the technical issues and implement the other recommendations, including determining appropriate business metrics for new reports and dashboards, and creating and helping implement a user adoption plan.

TEKsystems would begin by addressing the major technical problems. We would analyze extract-transfer-load processes to determine which programs were causing delays, and then reconfigure them for better performance. We would also use our proprietary automated regression testing tool to see how long it took individual reports to access data in order to prioritize which reports to fix.

Working with the client’s BI team to understand business processes, we would establish the correct metrics to use for the seven processes the clients wished to overhaul. For instance, the client wished to refine and understand their procurement processes. We would help them choose the most suitable metrics for supplier scorecards, allowing them to create a unified view of the merit of using different suppliers, including quality, price and speed of delivery. This would be used to help internal customers make the best procurement decisions. It would also allow a unified view of procurement patterns, enabling the client to better understand why their buyers made certain decisions, such as bypassing the preferred vendors.

We would test these metrics using our proprietary metric validator tool to ensure the correct relationship between the source data and the information produced. The validator program would also create report mockups so users could preview dashboards and reports before approving the choice of metrics.

To help users in the financial space transition away from using the old Oracle Discoverer software to the new BI application, we would implement Oracle Hyperion Smart View For Office. This would allow users to view and extract the data through the familiar Excel program but with auto-refreshes and other functionality to ensure access to the most up-to-date data.

Finally, we would create custom role-based dashboards and reports that would open a wide array of data to an extended group of users.

TEKsystems troubleshooted and fixed the client’s technical problems while providing a foundation for widespread user adoption.

On the technical side, we reduced the system’s data load time from 26 hours to three hours. We also reduced individual report loading times; they are now three times as fast to retrieve data.

TEKsystems built more than 20 custom dashboards and 50 reports. This work expanded BI system access from about 200 employees to more than 3,000, with varying levels of access based on their roles. For example, all managers can now view dashboards with rich information about their employee turnover numbers, which the client expects to help reduce turnover.

While working on this engagement, we used a highly iterative process that ensured business users were ultimately happy with our results. We mentored the client’s BI team in using this more agile approach. In addition, we trained them to utilize and maintain the BI system at peak performance.

Happy with our work and results, the client asked TEKsystems to perform a Fusion Middleware implementation. They are now reaping the benefits of their major IT investment, and considering an even more transformative project.

Technical knowledge

TEKsystems is an industry leader in implementing and remediating Oracle BI and data warehouse solutions. Many of our senior leaders previously worked on Oracle’s research and development team, and we are an Oracle BI Pillar Initiative Partner, a designation reserved for companies with proven expertise in specific Oracle products. Our deep expertise in systems integration and data management allowed us to identify the causes of technical problems and fix them.

Strategic thinking

One of TEKsystems’ core beliefs is that technology alone does not accomplish business goals; instead, the success of any technology project depends on the people behind it. That insight helped us create a plan to expand user adoption and increase it among slow adaptors by providing tools they would be comfortable with, such as putting a Microsoft interface on top of an Oracle BI product.

Knowledge transfer

TEKsystems is not satisfied with simply accomplishing our clients' goals; we also strive to transfer knowledge and permanently enhance the skills of clients' teams. In this engagement, we trained the client’s BI team to maintain their system and mentored them in Agile work processes.