Seventy Seven Energy’s UX Journey: Drilling for Productivity Gains in the Oil and Gas Industry


Kimberly: 00:00 Good day, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. My day is Kimberly Desmar, Communities and Event Coordinator at ASUG. Welcome to the ASUG webcast. 77 Energy UX Journey, Drilling for Productivity Gains in the Oil and Gas Industry. I am going to go ahead and turn things over to Amber Christian. She is the Accounts Payable SIG chair in the financials community and she will be introducing our presenters for the day. Amber?

Amber: 00:34 Thank you so much. Well, welcome to today’s webcast. We’re really excited to have John and Kenna here today because, as the Special Interest Group chair for Accounts Payable and for Treasury as well, you know the Accounts Payable area can be viewed as a little stodgy. So one of the big outreach efforts we’ve been making this year as the Special Interest Group is to find new and innovative solutions that really help companies leverage their ERP investments. And so I’m extremely pleased to introduce Clear Software today. And John and Kenna are gonna tell about 77 Energy’s journey and I’m really excited for you to hear what they’ve been doing and how they’re really re-imagining ERP in some of their processes. And so with that, I’d like to ahead and turn it over to John and Kenna to introduce themselves and welcome to today’s webcast.

John: 01:26 Thank you for having us. This is John Gillman, Founder of Clear Software. I’m gonna be taking you through a high overview of what we provide and then I’ll show a little demo.

Kenna: 01:39 This is Kenna Warren, Business Analyst with 77 Energy.

John: 01:43 Cool. So what we’re gonna cover very briefly is a quick intro into what we do but then we’re gonna focus mostly on the 77 Energy case study. After that we’ll show a little bit of clear UI enaction and how it helps those business and IT and we will field some questions after that. So why do we exist? We get this question a lot so we like to talk about that kind of up front. So we started our careers in ESAP consulting world, implementing SAP at Fortune 500 companies and every single time we’d implement SAP, our customers would say, “What did you do to us? It used to take us two minutes to do our job, now it takes us 20 minutes.” So it wasn’t necessarily that SAP’s a very robust product. It automates a lot of back end processes but to the end user, it’s not necessarily very user friendly. So you end up having to take a lot of training courses that might last three or four weeks. You’ll have to jump through 16 or 17 transaction codes to complete a business process. So when we’re actually conducting a training course one time, to a finance team, during our break, we a finance user using Facebook and uploading pictures and posting comments.

John: 03:09 And a light went off and we said, “You know, nobody takes a training course to learn how to use consumer grade applications like Google or Amazon or Facebook, yet they always take training courses to learn how to use business software.” And it really kinda came to down to design principles so we thought business software can be made clear. You don’t need to take a four week training class to learn how to use business software. And what we’re trying to do is really dramatically increase the productivity of business users by streamlining those 14 or 15 transaction codes and screens that they go to on a daily basis and giving them one place to do their job that’s simple and intuitive. What that leads to is we’ll discuss later on is cleaner data so we kind of have an IT focus. We’re gonna talk about your total cost of ownership of your SAP system in the long run can decrease significantly. You can eliminate the need for custom software development and be able to respond to the needs of your business users more quickly than you can using traditional tools.

John: 04:20 And just one more high level note here, so essentially we our a Cloud based suite of products that makes your enterprise simpler, and makes your products easier to use so we started off as a user interface that SAPs use and, over time, we began to listen to some our larger customers who were saying, “We’re not just using SAP. We’re using other systems like PeopleSoft and Sales Force, we would love to give our business users one place to come do their job that’s streamlining data and functionality from those different systems into a simple and intuitive user interface.” So we started to streamline other products outside of SAP in about 2013. And that evolved into a suite of tools including our goals engine which allows you to integrate different ERP applications together without writing any custom code. Our BI tools that allow you to create Executive level dashboards, and even transactional reports across systems all from the Clear UI interface.

John: 05:29 Single sign on which is critical when you’re dealing with multiple ERP systems. The ability to mass upload data from Excel into SAP through our data loader and then lastly, are our master data governance product which allows you to replicate and standardize data across systems so that in the classic Accounts Payable example, if you have three vendor management systems, your users can come into clear UI and create that vendor once and all our master data governance rules allow you to replicate that under master data across those three systems without actually having to go into those three systems. So that’s a very high level overview of what we do. And I wanna transition to Kenna for the 77 Energy case study.

Kenna: 06:22 Thanks, John. So just a little bit of background for you all about 77 Energy. We were a spin off of Chesapeake Energy. We spun off into our entity in the summer of 2014. We are a company who does diversified oil field services and is made up of three separate companies. There’s Nomac Drilling, Performance Technologies which is our pressure pumping company, and Great Plains Oil Field rentals. Great Plains is the on who we initially started running through Clear Software and have had great success with that.

Kenna: 06:58 For customers, they’re U.S. land based E & P companies and we’re in most of the major plays in North America. So some of our issues that we had as legacy system. So we did a very quick implementation of SAP. I came over work specifically in the order to cash stream. Did a seven month implementation and while that works for, I think, two out of our three companies, it was really difficult with our rentals. Didn’t have a good fit for it. So some of the challenges that we faced were real time equipment visibility. We had a huge problem not having correct data in the system to know which equipment, which plant, and they weren’t updating in real time. We had too many custom key codes, which led to problems with upgrades and enhancements. Those didn’t always go over the way they should. Too many screens and fields. This was one of the number one complaints for all of our end users. It was just too complicated. It was clunky. It was not visually appealing.

Kenna: 08:04 We have some complex processes with the rentals in that you’re issuing your equipment, you’re returning it, you’re going into your maintenance process. There’s several things that are happening all at the same time and it just wasn’t, it was too clunky and it wasn’t getting everything that we needed to get.

Kenna: 08:22 And of course, lack of flexibility. And with our rental contract challenges, we had a high volume of complex equipment rentals. So we have multiple equipment types. We’ve got serialized and non-serialized equipment. We have drill type orders that may have 200 line items on them. It was just very difficult to get all of that in there. And then we had inaccurate inventory of returns and end use rentals. Some of the impacts that we were seeing, due to this legacy system, so we had errors on the orders which lead to dissatisfied customers. So that means that you take extra time to get those corrected. Sales reps have to go back to the field to get signatures which leads to delayed billing, delayed payment, all the way up through staff frustrations which ultimately ends up being your upper management is frustrated because they’re not getting the reports that they want. You’re not seeing your utilization and capturing everything as you should.

Kenna: 09:20 So those are some of our problems. Once we met John through an ASUG meeting and discussed with Clear. And they came up with a great option for us. Came in, did blueprinting. So we went from up to 52 screens from start to finish, stocking sales orders, goods, movement, equipment updates and invoices and we came down to just one screen. Our customers or end users are so excited about this. It’s so much easier. It’s intuitive. It’s user friendly. It’s easier to train if you have new people that are you’re hiring. At this point, oil and gas is still in a bit of a downturn. We have had staff reductions, but because we can increase productivity. Here you’ll see at 500 to 700%, we have managed to go from three dispatchers to two dispatchers and not have any disruption in our work force because they are a lot more efficient in this process to streamline their day.

Kenna: 10:18 So on the average, it could take up to 38, 39 minutes to do a rental order, by the time they got their equipment on there, then moved everything the way it needed to. They’re turning these things out in less than five minutes now. Some of the longer orders, drill pipes, will still take maybe 10 minutes, but again, you’re saving a lot of time for your people there.

Kenna: 10:40 Your 52 screens eliminated into one. Can’t tell you how much that has helped. I know you probably have some of the same frustrations when you’re going through things. The fact that we can also eliminate custom code and fields that do not pertain to a particular sales order or sales process. And you can only show your end user what pertains to them has made it so much easier for us.

Kenna: 11:05 So that’s kind of what 77 has experienced with Clear. We’re starting there with our rentals and then hoping to roll that out to some of our other affiliates. But with that, I’ll turn it back over to John.

John: 11:17 Cool. Thanks, Kenna. That was an awesome overview. Based on what you’re seeing, there’s kinda six key levers where we help customers with the Clear UI product. Obviously, dramatic increases in productivity are good for any area of the business. Everybody’s being asked to do more with less right now. And if you could give your users a tool that’s gonna make them 5X, 8X, 10X more productive, everybody wins in that scenario. The decrease in training, you know we had a use case where Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota was actually conducting a four week training class to get their Customer Service Department up to speed on customers, sales orders, invoices, and then they took that down to-

John: 12:00 Customers, sales orders, invoices, and then they took that down to two days. So, any time you can get your training down and get your folks ramped up and on the job faster, leads to huge dollar savings.

John: 12:15 Rapid implementation; everybody not just in the SAP world but in the IT world in general, is typically used to 18, 24 months, 36 months IT initiatives, and what we’re able to do with this pretty flexible and scalable platform is come in and transform a business process in about thirty days on average. I think we had showed up to 77 on June 7th or 8th of this year, and by the 4th of July we had at least the process configured and ready, and then we started testing and training in July and August. So, pretty quick turnaround, and one of the key things there is we were able to pull out custom code. We kinda look at some of these other levers here on the right, standardized processes.

John: 13:09 So, people buy SAP because there are hundreds of thousands of companies worldwide using SAP. It’s a common platform, and people wanna share best practices. What’s kind of the antithesis of [inaudible 00:13:24] buying a commercial, off-the-shelf platform like SAP, is going off and building your own user interface. Whether it’s in Java or .NET or a myriad of other technologies.

John: 13:37 What we’re trying to do with ClearUI is get many companies on the same platform, sharing best practices, sharing ideas, so that you’re coming back to a common user interface for your common business platform.

John: 13:51 And from an IT perspective, we’ll see in the demo things like autocomplete and hyperlinks, and features that people are used to seeing in web applications, dramatically cut down on data entry errors. That’s something we’re able to provide. But we’re also able to automate processes so, as you say with the 77 energy use case, you know, we have a realtime sales order update that is issuing goods movements and equipment updates all with one click of a Save button by a user.

John: 14:25 That’s all done without writing any custom code, which means over the lifetime of you owning your SAP application, you have a much lower GCO. When you go to upgrade to the latest enhancement pack or even S/4 HANA, everything still functions the same way, and because you didn’t write a bunch of custom code, it’s not going to break.

John: 14:48 Some other quick bullet points before we kind of jump in and take a look at system. This runs on any SAP version, so if you’re kinda still stuck pre-ECC 6.0, so if you’re on 4.7 or 4.6, we run on that, we run on EEF 6, we run on S/4 HANA. It doesn’t matter to us.

John: 15:08 We do streamline non-SAP systems. That’s kind of a big point there, being able to integrate your SAP functionality side by side with, say, sales forces. It’s a pretty big area right now. A lot of people are trying to do that.

John: 15:22 Probably the two most important in my mind, is you’re not having to code anything in [inaudible 00:15:28] to get this to work. And then this last bullet here, you can configure ClearUI with your functional team. So, one of the things we’ll show is how you can rename fields, and then configure ClearUI to get it the way you want it without necessarily having to have a technical background.

John: 15:47 Okay, so, now is the tricky part where I try to share my screen.

John: 15:56 Cool.

John: 15:58 This is ClearUI. It’s a completely browser-based web application that essentially replaces the SAP [inaudible 00:16:06] so, you know, all of those different transaction codes that go across order to cache, procure to pay, we’ve streamlined them into single webpages where you can come to get your job done.

John: 16:19 If you work in customer service or accounts receivable, the customer’s page is, it’s the main page where you come to get everything done. So, got about 40 transaction codes streamlined here, so, on the master data tab, you have all of the master data you would need to see. You can immediately see all of your company codes, your sales areas, all in one place.

John: 16:43 And what we typically do is we deliver out-of-the-box everything that you could possibly see on a customer. We actually iterate through with our customers, and get rid of the sections and fields that aren’t relevant to you or to your business process. A great example is, on the customer side, if you only have customers in the U.S., there’s no point in making your users can Country Code: U.S. over and over and over again.

John: 17:11 That’s something we can default on our rules engine and take it off the user interface completely. But some other interesting features: with the single click of a button, I can get a customer’s account balance, and be able to enter, or ask that or answer that question you’re always getting, “How much do I owe you?” In SAP, you’ve gotta run SPL 5N sometimes for multiple fiscal years to answer a very basic question that you should be able to answer with a single click of a button.

John: 17:42 And all these hyperlinks, I can drill into, you know, financial transaction, I can drill into the invoice. If I click on a history of sales orders, I can immediately drill into any one of these sales orders. Everything is meant to be right at your fingertips, so you can quickly answer those customer questions and get through your business processes a lot more quickly.

John: 18:04 And we also mentioned third party integration. Really, SAP [inaudible 00:18:08] is a third party in addition to sales force, so we’re taking a platform-agnostic approach to integrating all of this data and functionality side by side so that, for example, if I go into change mode and change this customer address, it’s going to get replicated to SAP and sales force realtime, so I’m keeping those addresses in sync. We talked about data cleanliness, and how important that is to IT organizations. Little things like autocompletes dramatically cut down on data entry errors by about 90%. So, we see a lot … Since there are quite a few state codes that are confusing, we’ll see a lot of failed shipment notifications where someone’ll go into XD 01, you know, the transaction code to create a customer, and key in MI for Mississippi, for example, and click Save. And get out of the transaction code, and you don’t know until a few days later or a few processes downstream that that is not actually Mississippi; that’s Michigan.

John: 19:11 Same thing with Alaska and Alabama. You know, someone’ll want to ship something to Alaska they type in AL … Take this kind of concept and multiply it by the hundreds of dropdowns you have in your SAP system, and you can see that there’s a big potential for error if you don’t have something like this that’s updating the user as they’re typing.

John: 19:33 More importantly, what we’re really enabling is this concept of system automation. As Ken had talked about, the fact that we were able to link together the creation of a good movement with equipment updates, with a sales order change, all in one click of a button, that’s really where the rules engine comes in, and that’s really how people transact business. Just because you have to jump through seven transaction codes to complete your process in SAP, doesn’t necessarily mean that process shouldn’t be streamlined into a single, logical webpage where you can, you know, on Save of the sales order, or Change, trigger a whole bunch of downstream activities.

John: 20:15 Maybe you wanna trigger a workflow, maybe you wanna trigger an email with someone; you need to do this. This is common in every organization, but you need to have a way to do it without writing a ton of custom code in your SAP system. In addition to being a user interface, it’s also a tool that’s been mentioned to be able to mass upload data into SAP. So, say, for example, you’ve got an Excel sheet full of 5,000 sales orders, or 8,000 pricing condition updates, we can use those same business rules from our rules engine to load that data into your SAP system without, again, having to write any custom code. Dashboarding and reporting across systems is huge. You know, a 30, 60, 90 report is this sort of mythical Loch Ness monster of a concept that, it doesn’t exist within standard SAP, and a lot of customers will have to create a custom report to create something like this that every organization in the world needs. This is a very basic finance report that, really, any business software should have out of the box. But it’s something that becomes standard with ClearUI, is this concept of using a little bit of business intelligence, a little bit of rules processing, to create these informative reports very quickly.

John: 21:41 And if you need transactional reporting, that’s something that we provide out of the box, as well, so being able to run a transactional age receivables report across multiple systems, you know. You may have two financial systems or seven financial systems, but you’re gonna need to be able to create pretty complex reports that allow you to link systems to different tables, to different joint criteria. This is a little bit tech-y, but just wanted to highlight the fact that you can create these cross-system reports without necessarily needing to buy a really expensive reporting solution.

John: 22:20 So, that’s what we do, in a nutshell. That’s ClearUI. One of the things I probably didn’t touch on at the beginning is, everything in here is completely configurable. If you don’t like that something is called Sales Organization, for example, you can rename this label to whatever you want. You can rename pages and groups of pages. An example; at 77 Energy, we’re actually using sales orders to process their rental contracts, but we just called the page Rental Contracts because, to the business, that’s what makes sense. That’s what it is.

John: 22:57 Any time you have to teach somebody to remember that, you know, when you go into a sales order, you’re really looking at a rental contract, that’s a whole idea of recall versus recognition. That’s what we’re trying to eliminate when we deal with user experience.

John: 23:13 I’m gonna stop sharing, and jump back into the presentation here for a second.

John: 23:21 So, very quickly, how does it work, for any technical folks on the call. It is completely cloud-based. It uses a secure, what’s called a IP-sec tunnel. It’s 256-bit encrypted. The beauty of what we’re doing is all of your data still resides in your on-premise systems, whether it be SAP or any of these systems. All we’re doing is using our rules engine to read this data out, translate it into something that makes sense to your business users, and allow them to take action. Whether they need to change a customer, or update a purchase order, that data then flows back into your system and resides-

John: 24:00 That data then flows back into your system and resides on premise in your SAP application.

John: 24:08 And then quickly how is it deployed. We will come in like we did with Kenna and Frank at Seventy Seven Energy. We’ll stand up a connection very quickly so that your business users can play around at development environment. Usually that takes about 20 or 30 minutes. And then we’ll usually come on site and do some business workshops where we walk through your process, try to figure out what’s painful, what can be streamlined, what can be automated. And then we spend the next few weeks iterating through and moving fields around, renaming fields, bringing in your custom data. Everybody’s got custom fields on everything so that’s just par for the course with a Clear UI implementation. And then after about 30 days we’ve got it nailed down. Got it integrated with your system. And we’re ready to go. That is my high level overview. I think it’s gonna turn it over to Amber for the Q and A piece.

Amber: 25:13 Okay. So for our attendees, if you haven’t yet put in your questions, you can go ahead and share them in the question box. I’ve actually got a couple questions to start with. The first question is for John. Can you talk a little bit more about this recall versus recognition. You were talking about how it applies to the thought processes, [inaudible 00:25:36] clear. I think you brought up an interesting comment but you didn’t go too deeply into it. Talk a little more about that.

John: 25:44 Absolutely. So there’s a design principle called recall versus recognition where if you have to recall something that you’ve been taught there’s a chance you’re going to forget it. And depending on how long it’s been since you’ve had that training, that probability dramatically increases over time. So think of things like icons. In a lot of traditional business applications, SAP is the same way, you’ll have icons splattered all over a screen and you’re not necessarily sure what they do. You can hover over them and they might give you kind of a cryptic one or two word description, but you generally have to be trained on what that button means. That’s recall versus recognition is something like you see a word that you recognize.

John: 26:38 For example, if you have a button that has the word create on it, you know that when I click that button, it’s probably going to create something and you don’t have to recall that there’s a translation involved. In the classic example that you see everywhere is the floppy disk. People now pretty much know that floppy disk means save, but you had to be taught that at some point in your lives. That’s something that we’re seeking to eliminate because if you have to … either there’s kind of a joke in the user experience where the user experience is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not very good. So if you have to explain what buttons mean and what tabs mean, then there’s probably room for improvement.

Amber: 27:24 To your point about the orange disk, if two millennials or people that may have not been on technology that long, that makes no sense. [inaudible 00:27:34] at an orange disk. Right. Where we know the old three and a half inch disk. So you’re right about that whole … Interesting. Recall versus recognition and being able to use it better. Okay.

Amber: 27:47 So the next question is for Kenna. So Kenna, what makes you decide to look at a new UI? Like what was the tipping point that where you said okay, 52 screens, enough. How did you [inaudible 00:28:01] you put together a case and start looking at that, how did you get over the hump and say, okay it’s time? Tell me a little bit more about the back end business case and how you went about that.

Kenna: 28:14 Honestly, the screens were more of a nuisance than anything. But I would say the tipping point was really just our lack of visibility with the equipment. We were not able to get clean reporting because we didn’t have clean data and we knew that. We knew going in that rentals was just kind of a different animal that didn’t quite fit in to the SAP out of the box. So we knew at the time of implementation that it probably wouldn’t be a long term thing for us. That we would have to go and seek out other resources, but it was a very short implementation. As I mentioned, it was a seven month. So we went with it anyways and then we got into it, then we just saw what we were getting out of it was not sufficient.

Kenna: 29:03 And we had started looking around and then that’s when we happened to be at an [ASAP 00:29:08] meeting and saw presentation from Clear. Then that really piqued our interest because up until then there seems to be very few options out there for the rental side of things. The screens, yes, were an issue, but those were the end users and that always, you know, they can complain and that is heard, but upper management looking at reporting and not getting what they needed was more of the catalyst for it.

Amber: 29:33 Can you also speak a little bit to what’s in training. You were talking about time to train people and having some staff reduction. How do you think overall if you think of what is an organization, the training level needed to support what you’ve built here versus what you had to do for your traditional SAP. Could you compare and contrast what that looks like a little bit?

Kenna: 30:00 Sure. Absolutely. Most of the users that we have in this, what we started with during our blueprinting session. We called in our dispatchers who were going to be using this day in and day out and got a lot of their feedback. We made a lot of adjustments from maybe an initial blueprint that my coworkers and I, John had put together for us. Because at the end of the day, we’re not the ones that are gonna be in this, they are. So we wanted to make sure that when we had the time to sit down and start something from scratch, that we did that with them in mind and with their input. With the SAP training, that was several weeks. And even then like user adoption rate it might have taken months if they ever really got around to adopting it, if you will.

Kenna: 30:48 It’s not user, I mean it’s not intuitive. It is a little clunky and again with, back to the 52 screens, it’s just harder for them to get in there and grasp that because that’s, they don’t have a technical background most of the time. And even if you do, then it still can be a little cumbersome. But with the Clear UI, with it being web-based, like John said, you don’t have to take a training class for Google or Amazon or Facebook or anything else. But you guys know how to do that. So when we brought them in and they said, no I want this here and that there, they were training while they were blueprinting and getting familiar with the process.

Kenna: 31:26 So that I believe we did maybe a one week, two week training session prior to go live and then once we did go live, myself, I made myself available and then one of my coworkers, we went out and sat with them in the office just to make sure that they didn’t have any questions. But the amount of time it took for them to pick this up was within a couple of days. They knew where things were. They didn’t have to switch back and forth between tabs or screens or look for certain fields. It was just all right there in front of them. Right now we’re not quite at the point where we’re looking at ramping up hiring, but once we do get there, we’ll have an advantage, I think, just because we already have dispatchers and users that are in this system, and we can use them as our training allies. We’ll certainly still have training classes for them but they’re gonna be our biggest helpers when it comes to that because they like the system so they’re gonna share the system and they’ll be able to have more experience.

Amber: 32:25 Okay. That’s everything I’ve got on question list at this point. I’d like to thank both of our presenters and I would like to turn it back over to Kimberly.

Kimberly: 32:36 Thank you Amber. So thanks again to Kenna Warren and John Gilman for their presentation today. It’s much appreciated for you to deliver this content to us. On behalf of the ASAP and account’s payable sake, we thank everyone for joining us today and we’re wishing everyone happy holiday.

John: 33:02 Thanks everybody.