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Transformational ECM VI: Oil and Gas (part 1)

March 18, 2013

A while back, I did a series of posts on transformational ECM that looked at the value ECM could provide in industry-specific terms, from insurance and financial services, to mining, for-profit education, health payers, and consumer packaged goods. In the time since, I’ve had the good fortune to do a slew of projects in some other industries and want to share some of my insights on how ECM impacts them.

First and foremost have been some great Oil and Gas (O&G) projects, both for global, integrated organizations as well as folks who specialize in upstream and midstream operations–all of which have offered wonderful insights into how O&G organizations can benefit from ECM in very business-specific (read, non-IT) ways.

But before we dig into the ways ECM can transform O&G organizations, let’s spend a little time talking about how not to frame up ECM benefits for O&G folks.

A Word About Selling ECM Benefits to an O&G Organization

Anyone who’s worked in any capacity with O&G companies will tell you that if it ain’t about producing hydrocarbons safely and efficiently, your mouth is moving, but all I hear is “blah blah blah blah”. So if you’re looking to sell an O&G business person on the merits of ECM, you better be able to articulate clearly how managing documents and content better will directly impact their bottom line, i.e., producing hydrocarbons safely and efficiently.

We’ll get to what this looks like in a minute, but what this definitely does not look like is the following:

Your employees spend lots of time searching for documents they need but can’t find, and aren’t even sure whether the documents they can find are the right versions. Doing better ECM will make it easier to find and share documents, which will save your employees tens of hours a week each on average, which will lead to millions of dollars a year in savings.

First of all, forget O&G, your explanation of ECM benefits to the business in any industry should never look like this, not because it’s not true–of course it is–but because it tells the truth about bad document management practices from a very shallow (and very lazy) perspective.

Here’s what I mean: it’s a bit like telling a grossly overweight person who smokes that they’ll “get sick” if they don’t change their ways. Yes, they’ll get sick, but as a doctor who has hands-on experience with exactly what happens to folks in this situation, you are privy to details that would paint a more graphic picture and potentially more effectively help get this person to change their ways.

It’s the same for ECM. General, net to productivity benefits are indeed important and will follow from improving document management practices. But there are a whole host of other benefits that are far more tangible and far more meaningful to business folks. Focusing on those will get ECM further at the organization and increase the likelihood of realizing the net to productivity benefits as well.

The Final Word

Okay, so much for my soap box digression on how to talk about the benefits of ECM. In the next post, we’ll dig into how ECM specifically can help O&G organizations–hopefully avoiding any net gains to productivity type generalizations and honing in on tangible business value. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from folks out there about their own experiences with articulating the value of ECM, whether for O&G or other industries…jump in, and let’s get the conversation started!

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