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Transforming Data Systems for an Oil and Gas Company

Energy and Utilities | Enterprise Applications and Middleware Services

On behalf of a client in the oil and gas industry, TEKsystems® supported the transformation of an aging data system into a robust product lifecycle quality system using Oracle technologies.

The client is an oilfield services leader that provides extraction and evaluation technologies, consulting and software to oil and gas companies. Based in Western Europe and the United States, the client works in approximately 85 countries across the globe. The client has partnered with TEKsystems since mid‑2012.

In recent years, the manufacturing industry has begun moving from the practice of tracking engineering, quality and parts information in separate systems to a model that unifies data along a product’s entire lifespan, from conception to sale and maintenance. This approach delivers a variety of benefits, including quicker time-to-market for products, more nuanced management of the supply chain and better quality controls. And as government-mandated reporting requirements become stricter and more complex, a robust quality management system can be essential to maintaining compliance. 

This lifecycle approach requires a truly advanced data management concept. The challenge of integrating different data systems is enormous, given that each system has different methods of classifying data. A successful implementation demands a thorough understanding of the client’s specific business processes (how data are used and relate to each other), technology and data theory. 

While the challenges of integrating data systems into a quality management system can be daunting, the payoff can be great, engendering streamlined processes for incorporating new data types as well as significantly reduced maintenance costs. The investment in planning and technology can also be leveraged to produce BI, allowing sophisticated reporting to enhance decision making, innovation and resource utilization. 

To manage a transformation of this magnitude, many companies call on the services of an experienced systems integration partner. 

Microsoft .Net, Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF), Oracle Business Intelligence (OBIEE and Informatica), Oracle Business Process Management, Oracle Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) Suite, Oracle Virtual Directory (OVD)

The client, a leading global oil and gas manufacturer, needed an efficient, scalable system for tracking and using all data related to its large suite of products. The complexity of its products—and critical quality issues related to engineering, production and maintenance—required thorough documentation of sourcing and manufacture through their whole life cycle.

In addition, the client’s diverse product lines used different databases and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that depended on more than 25 databases and 12 different data systems, each with its own language. The aging platform had difficulty incorporating the data streams and was also increasingly costly to maintain. 

The issues affected business users on a daily basis. People from across the organization, such as functional teams, sales and quality control, had to interact with multiple systems, and they experienced delays and often an inability to access data from other units’ systems. The end results were overly complex workflows lacking in many functionalities, the frequent need for custom coding and other workarounds, high maintenance costs, and slow manual incorporation of new data streams.

In addition, the client wanted more out of their data. Integrating manufacturing data with sales, financial, inventory and operations information could increase both operational efficiencies and market nimbleness. But their platform prevented or delayed some data systems from talking to each other. Generating reports and synching data required extensive manual efforts—which further slowed time for producing BI. 

Ultimately, the client desired a flexible, scalable platform that would integrate and streamline all of its data, allow for growth and empower business users with greater control. They also needed an intuitive interface that would allow for quick learning and adoption by more than 8,000 users.  

TEKsystems proposed a comprehensive remapping of processes to a quality management system, in which a centralized warehouse would push and pull data from discrete systems using Oracle SOA and Oracle BPM. Users would connect to the data hub through a Web-based service, allowing access from anywhere, and we would optimize for mobile devices for more flexible usage. 

The back end of the platform would employ Oracle ADF to integrate different data systems and allow the hub to control the ERPs. In addition, we would set up Oracle OVD to pull user information from all relevant data sources and automate appropriate role-based system access. This would eliminate manual processing of user access and allow for flexibility with any future software changes. It would also build in stronger data governance to provide better information security. 

Finally, using Oracle OBIEE, we would build BI capabilities on top of the system for advanced reporting. A customized central dashboard would display key performance indicators and activity reports through an intuitive interface, allowing a high degree of user control. 

To accomplish the redesign and implementation, we would deploy enterprise and business architects to the client’s site. Working on site, they would identify critical processes and define the information model. The on-site consultants would collaborate with an off-shore team of technical and data architects to execute the plan quickly. This on-shore/off-shore development model would allow for a quick turnaround of the project and also help control cost. 

Our team would use the Agile project management methodology to meet the client’s crunch deadline goals; in addition, we would roll the initial requirements gathering and design phase into the first sprint, moving almost immediately into building applications and workflows, and incorporating client feedback and functional changes as we worked. 

The client was pleased with the advanced design proposal and our ability to deliver an end-to-end implementation solution in a rapid timeframe. Based on our years of success in implementing and optimizing Oracle technology, the client chose to partner with TEKsystems.

The client gained a system with a rich, intuitive user experience and a streamlined back end that seamlessly integrated data across more than 25 databases, six different software packages and 12 diverging data systems. More than 8,000 employees at over 40 offices were able to easily connect to the system through a Web-based service, and workers in the field were able to access it via a variety of mobile devices. 

The new solution offered business users and functional leads the ability to easily define workflows with multiple layers of approval and multichannel notifications including email and text. In addition, the new functionality allowed automatic access for users based on their roles. The infrastructure enabled growth of the user base and flexibility in incorporating new streams of data.

In addition, the workflows were constructed with Oracle ADF software, which will allow the client to reuse components to build future workflows. In addition to improved functionality, the data systems transformation markedly lowered maintenance costs for the client. The streamlined system reduced the need for custom coding, simplified debugging processes and automated many administrative tasks. 

Finally, the client further capitalized on the technology investment with a BI system built on top of the platform. Reports that used to take a week or more of manual work to produce are now automatically generated, allowing much faster results and more flexible views that can focus on data at the big‑picture or granular levels. Monthly trends that were impossible to spot can now be identified. The central dashboard produces key performance indicators and activity reports to manage inventory, forecast, quality, inspections, purchase orders, parts tracking and many more. With the intuitive interface, different dimensions of product manufacturing information can be accessed by project managers, engineers, salespersons and quality assurance teams. 

Overall, the end result was a robust, scalable system with lower total cost of ownership and greatly enhanced data management and reporting capabilities. The client is pleased that the solution we delivered helped position them for future growth.

  • Flexibility. The client desired a partner who could streamline the normal requirements gathering phase and begin developing right away. We released early workflows to business users, and adjusted our design according to client feedback. In addition, changing internal business requirements and a major addition to the project added a high degree of variability to the deliverables and timing, but we were able to complete the project within the client’s tight deadlines.
  • Relevant expertise. The scope and complexity of the project called for strong knowledge of data design principles, technologies and governance. Drawing on real-world experience and advanced training in data technologies, our consultants were able to deliver next-generation architecture. With our deep Oracle knowledge, we were uniquely positioned to use out-of-the-box technologies for most functions. 
  • The right team. Our data and business architects worked in teams to integrate the client’s specialized knowledge and deliver fast turnaround.