“Managing by exception” is a common business best practice that aims to help organizations improve efficiency, and as a result, drive better outcomes. It essentially proposes that if you want to be more efficient, you should focus on the pieces of your process that are deviating from the norm – i.e., the exceptions. This prevents all team members, especially management, from spending time on routine tasks that don’t require any updates or interventions.
The idea of managing by exception is particularly compelling with very complex processes, which makes it a great fit for oil and gas companies. Pre-drilling processes alone include countless moving parts, with different teams, departments, regions, rigs, and more all required to work together toward the end goal. The opportunities for exceptions – potential deviations from the process – are everywhere in such a multifaceted scenario, and can have a serious impact on your business. For example:
- Workflow exceptions
- Pre-drilling tasks that are taking longer than normal (e.g., there is a delay in clearing the pad location.)
- Tasks that are late for some yet-to-be-identified reason.
- Work that may be taking a normal amount of time, but needs attention based on where it is on the drilling schedule (e.g. the rig scheduler pulls a well up in the schedule that will not provide enough time to get approved permits.)
- Well exceptions
- The approval or expiration of drilling permit dates
- Restrictions on drilling activities (e.g., you can’t frac a well when another well is actively drilling within a mile radius.)
- Well production data changes, like temperature changes or pressure falls
- Lease exceptions
- No-drilling windows built into the lease with the landowner
- Continuous drilling obligations (e.g. you can’t exceed 90 days between drilling activities on the lease or you lose the lease)
All of these examples demonstrate exceptions that should be flagged as part of your pre-drilling process so that they can be addressed quickly and effectively without holding up your operations.
How to Manage Your Pre-Drilling Processes by Exception
Sounds reasonably simple, right? It can be, but here’s the rub: for managing by exception to help better run your processes, you need to have a process in place already AND a system or solution to ensure that process is running. This is where many oil and gas companies struggle.
As we covered in our last post, Is It Time to Standardize Your Ready-to-Drill Process?, many organizations still rely on manual spreadsheets and tedious weekly meetings to manage their pre-drilling programs. This model makes it very difficult to identify and address the exceptions; the spreadsheets have no way of knowing if a task is on track on not! Consequently, lots of people spend lots of time ticking through a list of things that AREN’T an issue in order to find the exceptions – not to mention the time and effort required to actually address the issues once they’re found.
SigmaFlow changes that problem. By automating your drilling program processes and serving as a smart, central hub for your data, it manages by exception for you. With SigmaFlow, you can rely on the system’s notifications and workflows to ensure that the “regular work” is being automatically handled by the software, and if anything is deviating, the appropriate personnel are notified. It brings attention to any issues (exceptions) and flags them to the right people so that action can take place as required.
How does it work?
- Data Monitoring. The solution monitors internal and/or external data against defined thresholds. If exceptions occur, SigmaFlow proactivity sends notifications, which increases accuracy, increases reliability and reduces the employee time spent on the issue.
- Real-time Status. Users working in the solution can always get a real-time look at work status, rather than relying on resource-intensive periodic status update meetings.
- Templatized Data Collection. SigmaFlow allows you to auto-populate data based on administrator-defined data templates and criteria. For example, a new well record can be pre-populated with data modeled after wells in the same asset area, with similar lateral lengths etc. The well worker can then review and adjust as needed.
- Template-based Process Execution. The solution includes workflow templates that reduce the time workers spend on process administration, like figuring out when to start work, when it’s due, required input/output and whom to notify when it’s done.
- Scheduling Exceptions. Exception indicators alert the schedule manager to scheduling conflicts without requiring a deep-dive into each well’s progress/data.
- Predictive Scheduling. With SigmaFlow, you can automatically schedule activities, based on pre-defined scheduling rules and defaults, allowing the schedule manager to refine the schedule rather than starting from scratch.
SigmaFlow’s benefits don’t just apply to the day-to-day either. Within the system, you can drill down month-to-month or year-to-year to identify trends and map plans to actual data. This lookback analysis can answer questions like 1) why certain regions are always late, 2) did we have excess down time, 3) could we have been more efficient with less people – in a nutshell, the solution highlights areas of improvement so that you can continue to improve efficiency and results.
With automated workflow management from SigmaFlow, your teams can focus on value-add work instead of endless status meetings and digging through spreadsheets. You’re automatically set up to manage by exception, so you’ll save more time, work more effectively, and always know if and when something needs your attention.