During the 2023 AGA Operations Conference & Biennial Exhibition in Grapevine, Texas, GCI presented to the Transmission Measurement Committee on the important topic of optimizing communications between the field and back-office as a path to improved measurement and increased operations efficiency.
Why do we need better communication?
Companies realize that communication is an essential part of ensuring operational effectiveness, but when problems arise that are linked to poor or inadequate communications, the initial reaction is to increase the amount or frequency of communications without evaluating and understanding how the shortfalls occurred. Often the shortfalls are in the effectiveness and efficiency of communications, not the quantity of communications. Managing communications between the field and back-office measurement personnel are a prime example of this.
A lot of communication takes place between measurement analysts in the back-office and measurement technicians in the field – and for good reason. There is a great deal of information that needs to be relayed between the two groups. Analysts need to notify the tech about problems with the data or to inform the technician that data is missing. Additionally, technicians must keep the analyst informed about meter tests, missed schedules, and problems discovered in the field. Gas loss, emissions, and other operational issues discovered in the course of routine field work must also be reported.
Both analysts and field techs work on tight schedules and their work requires focus. Frequent interruptions reduce their overall effectiveness and can increase the potential for errors in their work. While communication is essential to their jobs, it can also be the primary source of interruptions to their work.
Traditional Communication Methods
Text messages and emails arrive in a sea of crowded inboxes, often falling into the “get-to-later” pile. Phone calls either completely pull you out of your current workflow, or they get dumped into overflowing voicemail. Tracking requests and managing responses is burdensome to both parties and it’s easy for critical requests to get lost. Ideally, we need a system built around these types of communications that both reduces interruptions and tracks issues.
Phone calls, text messages, or emails are disorganized, forcing both parties to track and manage (and remember!) the status of issues via other means. IF the analyst sends 20 requests out to the field for investigation within a given week, how do they track that each issue was addressed?
As a sender of the message, you need to be able to relay the information when it’s convenient and safe for you to do so – in a way that doesn’t immediately disrupt the recipient. For those on the receiving end, it’s important to receive communications in a way that allows you to review and respond appropriately.
An appropriate Work Order system satisfies this need. Work orders allow you to efficiently and effectively communicate the severity and importance of issues in the field. Unfortunately, if you have a stand-alone work order system, it won’t coordinate with the stand-alone field measurement software used by field technicians.
Field technicians work off of a schedule that is managed in their field measurement software. The obvious solution is utilizing field measurement software schedules that integrate seamlessly with the work orders within your work order software.
What does better communication look like?
Effective communication involves not only transmitting information but ensuring that all parties involved are satisfied with the exchange. Efficiency in communication is also a crucial aspect – how efficiently the message was conveyed and received?
- Does the sender feel that the intended recipient received the right message?
- Does the recipient understand the message? Can they act on it?
- Are you making multiple phone calls, or playing ‘phone tag’ with your intended recipient?
- Does your original text message provide all the information? Or are you following up to fill in the blanks?
The generally disruptive nature of receiving messages or phone calls can impact workflows, causing distractions or interruptions – often when complex tasks are being performed. It’s important to get these attempts at communication right the first time.
Overall, there is a need for both efficient and effective communication to improve measurement efficiency, reduce errors, and enhance the overall communication process between the back-office and the field.
Muddy Boots All-in-One Field Operations Platform
The Muddy Boots Online platform satisfies all of these obstacles in one complete system. The work order system addresses the ability to track open issues and easily generate reports – including work that has been done, and work that has NOT been done.
Muddy Boots can be utilized to streamline routine tasks and help minimize time spent in the field by optimizing the connection between the field and the back office.
Muddy Boots also ties ad-hoc requests, such as Work Orders and MOCs, to the technician’s testing and sampling schedule, which helps the tech plan his work. In addition, you can view scheduled work and work orders on an area map, helping the tech plan the most efficient route and minimize unnecessary windshield time.
At Gas Certification Institute (GCI), we are committed to helping measurement operations realize efficiencies so that you can get more done in less time. We help companies just like yours with streamlining oil and gas field operations using Muddy Boots Online.
If you’re ready to move forward, let’s also talk about scheduling a demo so that you can see the software in action. We look forward to supporting you in your efforts to optimize communication and streamline workflows.