About Client

The Client consists of a 15-person strong team that actively manages and invests over $100 million for a Houston area family. As the family is quite private with their affairs we have agreed to not disclose the identity of their company, hence the confidential nature of this case study.

Established as a privately held independent energy company in 1962, it maintains a variety of investments and operations mainly relating to the oil & natural gas sector. However, the Client’s holdings extend to the more exotic as well, even including an exotic egg farm.

The Client is engaged in their investments by means including acquisitions, dispositions, and operations. These activities center on exploring, developing, and managing land-based petroleum resources in the U.S. through leases and contracts.

The Situation

The Client is a company that leverages a small staff to do quite a lot. The nature of work that the Client conducts involves a large amount of ‘paperwork’, leases, and contracts that have to be effectively managed.

This situation was additionally complicated by the fact that the Client had a previous installation of Microsoft Dynamics AX from a prior partner engagement. A major reason for pursuing the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX was the Client’s interest in a compatible custom oil & gas module.

The previous partner, before Rand Group was ever engaged, had overpromised the capabilities that they were able to actually deliver and additionally went out of business soon thereafter. The solution that this partner was able to deliver was incredibly complex, further complicated by the fact that the Client has to divide payments across multiple owners, states, and counties.

Taken together, this resulted in quite the challenge for Rand Group to undertake and solve.

The Objective

The first order of business for Rand Group when engaged by the Client was to completely and fully understand the situation at hand. This was accomplished with the application of the UpFront Methodology. This 5-phased implementation methodology ensures unbiased software selection, effective interface design, and seamless solution building and deployment. It is the foundation on which every successful project predicated by Rand Group is built upon.

During this discovery and recommendation phase a number of items that Rand Group determined vitally important appeared.
Being a small organization, the CEO of the Client is deeply involved in each and every investment undertaken. This particular CEO, and definitely not uniquely, has no interest in delving into his Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) system to then slice and dice certain items required to complete transactions. This CEO wanted to think purely as an investment manager, to discover which of his assets were performing and which were not. The ‘nuts and bolts’ of accounting were not his concern, and he wanted his own ERP interface to reflect that fact. The process to acquire the information he needed from his previous ERP system involved pulling documents off disparate fileshares and could ‘take accounting up to a couple frustrating days’.

What the CEO wanted was a single portal which he could look up all information and data he wanted, in addition to the ability to then run financial reports on the aforementioned.

The Initiative

The first recommendation to the Client by Rand Group was a difficult one. It involved the movement away from the Client’s previous investment in Microsoft Dynamics AX towards, in Rand Group’s opinion, the more suitable Microsoft Dynamics NAV. While a difficult move to make, there were a number of compelling reasons why Rand Group believed this to be the best course of action.

The first was that for a company the size of the Client, Microsoft Dynamics AX was a behemoth of complexity, while Microsoft Dynamics NAV offered much in the way of simplicity. Also, there were a number of interesting add-ons for Microsoft Dynamics NAV, both out-of-the-box and Rand Group developed, that would be available for deployment on NAV but not AX.

The second initiative in the area of contract management was not quite as difficult. The Client was already a long-time user of Microsoft SharePoint, albeit with a few customizations, so this platform was a natural choice to continue pursuing. Strong linkages between Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics NAV meant that documents could be stored in the former and accessed with ease in the latter.

Taken together, Rand Group recommended that Microsoft Dynamics NAV be employed as an ERP system, and that Microsoft SharePoint be utilized for contract management. This assessment also defined several integration points between the two for reporting and division of interest (DOI) customizations for SharePoint.

Create a new Document Center

The ‘Create a New Document Center’ allows employees to easily upload files with Microsoft Dynamics NAV to be then stored in a Microsoft SharePoint repository. Standardized list data makes for seamless creation of Document IDs that uniquely identify each file.

Filter and Settings

With hundreds of thousands of files to manage the Client required a highly granular process to quickly hone in on any document. As can be seen from this screenshot, there are numerous filters and settings that can be utilized to drill down and seek out required materials with ease.

Cost Center

Here we see even more filters which can be variously set so to only view files pertinent to a particular individual’s search. Cost Centers, Document Centers, Well Filters, and Dates round out the ‘Cost and Document Center Searching/Reporting’ feature. Highly customizable but standardized search criteria means people aren’t wasting time simply searching.

Well Filters

A great example of how detailed a search can be is the Well Filters tab. Research time is vastly reduced with searches only providing the most pertinent of results. Cost comparisons, lease terms, and other information can be easily compared for only similar wells. Finding a needle in a haystack just became a lot easier.

The Benefits

The Client’s project has now been fully completed by Rand Group and there are already a number of immediate benefits to note.

On the ERP side of the house, the successful implementation of Microsoft Dynamics NAV means that the Client now has a supportable accounting system from an obsolete one. Old reports that produced erroneous results, and that didn’t even have totals at the bottom, are now a thing of the past. Features that were previously promised by the previous implantation partner, but were never delivered, now simply work. The huge risk of add-ons that were not previously compatible or possible has been eliminated.

On the contract management side, powered by Microsoft SharePoint, the benefits are also tangible. Now the Client has a single point of access to all their leases and contracts. Furthermore this information is linked directly within the ERP system for ease of use by the accounting team and especially the CEO.

Everything together means that the Client and its CEO can focus on what they excel at. Discovering, managing and developing oil & gas investments the best ways they know how, and simply not have to worry about software in the background.

Rand Group delivers software as promised, so you can focus on what’s important instead, your business.

– Software Delivered as Promised. No Surprises.