By Praveen Kalamegham, Chief Technology Officer
At Workrise we are continually inspired by the Oil & Gas industry’s willingness and ability to evolve, adapt, and succeed. But we have come to see that the industry’s constant innovation at the wellhead has not been matched by similar innovation when it comes to the supply chain operations of today’s energy giants.
In partnering with the biggest operators and suppliers in Oil & Gas, we’ve gained invaluable perspective from our unique vantage point inside this ecosystem. We recently used those insights to make the case for what we believe is the root cause of the significant supply chain challenges Oil & Gas companies are facing today: the low-trust ecosystem that has developed in the industry over many decades.
In this ecosystem, solutions abound for point problems (like bidding and field ticketing, to name just two examples), but none of the solution systems talk to each other — instead requiring manual effort to move from system A to system B. This sucks up precious bandwidth and resources, and creates myriad opportunities for error.
In this ecosystem, each operator’s constellation of systems is unique and therefore different from other operators’ systems, both in makeup (which solutions they use) and configuration (how they leverage each solution). This puts the burden on vendors to deliver precision 100 different ways, an impossible task that creates an environment that is ripe for errors.
And in this ecosystem, every error — every mixup, typo, disputed invoice — is another crack in the foundation of trust.
On the long road from evaluating vendors for a given service all the way through to verifying delivery, invoicing, and payments, solutions have been created to address each individual need. This patchwork of solutions is in itself a problem. A big one.
A systemic challenge of this magnitude requires a solution that takes the whole ecosystem into account. Instead of solving for single back-office or operational needs, department by department and company by company, our vision solves for the needs of everyone required to deliver energy projects.
That’s why I believe we need a system of record for energy, one in which the complexity created over generations of well-intentioned problem solving falls away and everyone is empowered to focus on the real work at hand. What lies at the heart of this vision is a single unbroken digital chain from procurement to payment that solves the needs for all participants: operators, suppliers, and all the men and women in the field who do the work that makes the entire ecosystem tick.
The Foundations of Our Solution
If the unbroken digital chain is the foundation of our platform, the links in the chain are our core capabilities:
- Discovery: a level playing field with rich and consistent supplier information, where your reputation precedes you
- Vendor Management: upfront constraints and controls, rather than speed bumps later on in the process, this is governance that enables speed and autonomy
- Verification: digital work capture and approvals for services rendered in the field
- Payments: streamlined, accurate invoicing and on-time, automated payments for services rendered
When connected, these links grow exponentially stronger and in turn unlock two of the most crucial capabilities for an industry where data and talent are in such short supply:
- Data: a complete record of every step of every transaction, along with granular real-time spend visibility, safety and compliance auditing, and price benchmarking.
- Automation: integration with both corporate and field systems enables automation of complex supply chain tasks including spend controls; SCADA-triggered job requests; and continuous monitoring of vendor safety compliance.
With real-time signals on when, what, and where services are needed, the Workrise platform will be able to proactively perform supply chain management functions, from building a bench of vendors for an in-demand service line to prepping for the high season.
What Will Change?
In this world, everything changes.
This is a future where everyone in energy works more efficiently, together. Let’s break down what that looks like for the different players:
For operators, clear supply chain governance is embedded into every experience. This reduces approval flows and empowers operations teams to purchase at speed within the appropriate constraints.
Managers have real-time visibility into what’s happening in the field — project costs, deliveries, service completion, the list goes on — while invoices come in accurately, every single time, and can be approved automatically. Compliance is continuously monitored, rather than infrequently audited, leading to safer operations with lower cost overruns.
For vendors, invoices are submitted one way, every single time. Disputes and the related back-and-forth, resubmittals, and delays in payment, become relics of the past. Now all updates, from COIs to compliance, are made in one place, and all clients instantly have those updates. Your profile and reputation precede you.
You are able to verify on-site work and deliveries in real-time, via an app. You can onboard with new clients and get to work in days, not months. You are able to control your payment terms and speed based on your own financial needs.
For field personnel, time and expenses can be tracked; field tickets submitted and approved; compliance managed; safety concerns flagged — all from one user-friendly app. You can manage certifications and be notified when renewals or additional training are required.
Your experience and track record speak for themselves.
In this future, there is one place where everyone goes to work, and by design this place contains solutions for the challenges faced by each member of the ecosystem, not just one need for one group in the vast world of Energy. Because when we solve for the ecosystem as a whole, every solution we deliver — every improvement we make to the status quo — becomes a rising tide that lifts all boats.
The Promise of the Unbroken Chain
When there is a single system of record, an unbroken chain that captures every step of every purchase and deployment motion across every project in energy, you can imagine how quickly the errors start to fall away. When that happens, the trust level in this ecosystem begins to rise.
This is the potential of the unbroken chain. Each link is a capability in the platform we have been building. Now that we’ve established our vision for that platform and its capabilities, we can begin to unpack the solutions we will build on top of it. I look forward to going deeper on one of the most critical areas of focus for the low-trust ecosystem: the ever-changing world of field operations.
Until then, I challenge you to think about the world I’ve just described — where data and automation are optimized to serve all players in Oil & Gas, where dispute rates bottom out and thorn-in-side tasks like compliance checks become the work of an error-proof app — and ask yourself: Why not?
An end-to-end solution for every step of the process from discovery of new vendor through verification and payment — it’s a tantalizing vision, and yet it’s only part of the story. By creating an unbroken digital chain, the platform also will surface meaningful data and power the automation of complex tasks, freeing up crucial resources and bringing Oil & Gas business operations into the 21st century … and beyond.
Praveen Kalamegham is a 25-year technology veteran who has driven innovation at all layers of the software stack, from embedded systems to web-scale SaaS platforms. As Chief Technology Officer, he has led the development of the Workrise platform, enabling the company to become the No. 1 Oil & Gas labor provider in the country. Praveen is as much a tinkerer at home as he is at work, spending his free time coding, gardening, and wood working at his home in Austin, Texas.
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