May 12, 2020
Don’t tell them you are scheduling with Excel!
There is an excellent article in the Journal of Petroleum Technology, written by their Emerging Technology Senior Editor, titled, “Don’t Tell Them You Are Using Excel”. It includes a quote from Chevron’s CIO, Bill Braun, speaking at this year’s Spring SPE/IADC conference: “Excel is the new slide rule, and using Excel is a practice that does not support my company’s drive to become a digital technology leader.” He specifically pointed out that the painstaking process of creating detailed drilling plans simply can’t be done in Excel: “It’s been great, but let’s see it in the rearview mirror and move on. There are so many better tools coming out.”
Here are some of the problems that arise when spreadsheets are used for scheduling:
- Errors creep in: manual processes and spreadsheets are bound to introduce errors. Besides the challenges of error-checking information that is entered by hand, any inaccurate information may be propagated as the spreadsheet makes its way around the well delivery team.
- Version control, collaboration, and information silos: using a spreadsheet to schedule means that there is no easy way to ensure that every member of the team is using the most current version. In addition, collaboration is very difficult to achieve in any meaningful way: what often happens is that multiple versions of the schedule spreadsheet begin to circulate because individuals in different disciplines like to see data presented in different ways. This leads to islands of information throughout the organization, and desynchronization of important information.
- Lack of QA ability: spreadsheets can’t be audited and it’s difficult to track who made what change. Control over spreadsheet data, to ensure that it’s aligned with company and regulatory policies, is almost impossible to achieve.
- Impaired decision making: assessing the impact of proposed changes to the schedule (in terms of important Key Performance Indicator metrics) is challenging and requires additional manual work. And creating scenarios to answer “What if?” questions in a timely way? Forget it!
- Inability to scale: an operator may begin scheduling by adding data about rigs and well to their schedule spreadsheet. And then, over time, more and more information is added: pre-spud activity data and milestones, costs, additional resources such as frac spreads and tie-in crews, facilities information, and lease obligation data. And then the entire process and spreadsheet collapses because it’s so difficult to manage.
We at Actenum see this all the time with operators we visit, who are looking for a better, more technologically advanced way to schedule well delivery operations. With advanced tools like Actenum’s DSO, AI is used to automatically build and optimize complex drilling program schedules at speeds, and with a level of reliability, that are simply unattainable with a manual spreadsheet. In today’s environment, operators need software to accelerate decision making as they plan for recovery and decide how to adjust plans to rapidly changing market conditions. And they need to have visibility into how changes to the schedule impact cost, production, and other important metrics.
We loved the quote from John DeWardt, a drilling operations consultant known for his role in creating the Drilling Systems Automation Road Map, “Using Excel to do scheduling is like running the Daytona 500 in a Ford Focus.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!
If you’d like to see how Actenum’s advanced scheduling software can help with your digital transformation, please contact us at email@example.com.
Vice President Business Development