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How people work with information

Friday, June 24, 2016

Consultant Andrew Zolnai is offering a service to map how people in your company actually work with information, and how the information flows, which he calls the 'information supply chain'.

Consultant Andrew Zolnai is offering a service to help companies understand their processes of how they actually work with information, which he calls the 'information supply chain'.

The concept of an 'information supply chain' has been used in many industries. You can look at the systems which support this information supply chain, and what the people do, and map all the complexity, how the company gets from input to output.

'Work' in the oil and gas industry basically comes down to creating information, acting based on that information, and in doing so tying in people and processes he said. This builds up to form a workflow of our industry's complex processes.

For example, consider a company deciding whether to drill in a certain region. The work process might start with a technician searching all the data the company has about that region, and putting it together in a 'master map'. Then a geologist starts doing a play fairway analysis, to see if there might be the components which lead to an oil reservoir (a source rock, charge, reservoir and seal). At the end the exploration manager has various prospects : that make up the portfolio, which the oil company takes to potential partners or permit submissions.

The oil and gas industry is often not very good at understanding what its processes really are. As an example, consider that oil companies might spend a great deal of time choosing and implementing a software system to manage their procurement, but then no time at all working out how the different suppliers will work together. This can lead to poor communication systems and duplication of work, he said.

And the work oil and gas people do has been getting more and more complicated over the past few years, and there is less time and money to do it. 'There are ways that can help us organise ourselves,' he said.

Mr Zolnai's service involves visiting the company, and sitting down with people who actually do the work, to try to find out exactly what they do.

Mr Zolnai maps the processes using online software made by a company in Wellington, New Zealand, called LINQ Ltd. (www.linq.it).

Once you have a map of the process, it becomes easier to see what bottlenecks might be, where the whole process is held up by one time consuming task. You can also make better predictions of how long it might take to do a complex task, and see if it might be possible to do it in time for an upcoming licensing round.

This also means that the company can see which parts of its overall process needs technology investment to get the work done better. It is much better to implement technology to satisfy a known business need, rather than buying technology and working out how to use it afterwards, he said.

This can also help companies make sure their overall 'digital asset' works properly, he said.

Mr Zolnai did a project for Italian oil and gas company AGIP KCO, which wanted to better understand its 'digital asset' for the Kashagan Field, offshore Kazakhstan. It turned out to be a 'very complex data flow, with a large portfolio of systems', he said.

Mr Zolnai did a similar task for Aera Energy in the US, helping the company understand data flows. In a six month project, his team spent the first half of the time doing interviews with staff members, to make sure they really understood the processes. Understanding how people work with data can be more important than the technology itself, he said.

It is important that people feel that the person trying to map out the processes is on the same 'side' as the employees, he said.



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