One of the best things about working at Geoforce is that everyone is encouraged to learn about our role in the oil and gas industry. Our software team comes from a diverse set of backgrounds, and we are always learning about how our product impacts our customers every day. The entire development staff goes to tradeshows, and does on-site visits to our customers to better understand the challenges that oil and gas service companies face.
Last Tuesday, one product of that open approach to development was recognized at the Oil and Gas Awards in Fort Worth. Our Vehicle Service Verification module won the General Industry Service Award, and as one of the principal architects, it was a very gratifying moment. Service Verification and invoice reconciliation was a pain point for a number of companies we talked to, some of whom employed multiple people to comb through invoices and maps to try and decipher how work got done. There was a lot of skepticism between service partners, and we saw an opportunity to build trust and make sure everyone got paid for their work.
Service Verification in the oilfield is tricky work. Invoices can be vague (“haul 600bbl water to Jennings 51A”, or just “needs disposal”), and it is critical to identify wells, water pits, SWDs, and home yards when a billing reconciler does their job. Our goal was to bring all that information together – not just where a truck was at a particular time (any fleet tracking app can do that), but enrich that with oilfield-specific knowledge. We brought in well site data, Geoforce data about frac tanks and other equipment, as well as other customer GIS data like water pits, and made it dead simple for a reconciler to tell a story; “The driver started at the home yard at 6am, got to the water pit a little late at 7:10, and made three trips to this well”. Invoice approved. Another innovation we brought to Service Verification is aligned with a company-wide goal–how do we take raw data, and present it as useful information? Standard fleet tracking does a great job at showing a vehicle’s day: where did it start, where did it go, etc. But in the oilfield, operators and partners need deeper knowledge. For Service Verification, we noticed that where vehicles stopped was really important, but the raw data could be misleading. When a water truck stopped at a pad, sometimes they’d spend several hours just moving around, perhaps from one line to another. What was important was that they were at that pad, even if they were moving around. So we smoothed out stops to reduce the “noise” that comes along with normal operating procedure in the field. Finally, in developing Service Verification, we thought about how customers will need to interact with the information. A good online experience was a must, but we knew that if an operator needed to communicate with a contractor about a vehicle’s activity, they wouldn’t be sitting at the same computer. We looked at how other products generated manifests, and found them confusing at best, and baffling at worst. So we set out to produce the best hard copy manifest in the oilfield. The Geoforce Service Verification manifest makes it easy to find pertinent information, but also adds a map that makes it clear that the vehicle was at a real place, not an abstract address. In the oilfield, most of the interesting places don’t have great geocoding information, so we exposed exactly where on a ranch or a lease a vehicle stopped. The Oil and Gas Award served as recognition that our approach to focus on the oilfield was as transformative as we hoped. Our customers have been clamoring for it since they saw a screenshot, and have used it to significantly streamline reconciliation efforts. The development team works hard to understand what track and trace is about, and when our customers send a signal like this award, it tells us we’re on the right track. Geoforce isn’t dots on a map, it’s actionable information.