I love spreadsheets, BUT…

Like any other engineer, I love spreadsheets. They are very powerful, easy to use and can be employed in a wide variety of situations. I use them almost daily for completing personal tasks and, to a limited extent, as handy tools in the business.

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The danger is to try to use them in the corporate environment. Several companies are still using spreadsheets to collect data for daily morning reports. The problem is that once the company collects hundreds of those files, from many wells, it is difficult to consolidate the information for benchmarking, comparisons, planning, analytics, etc. They can be used as a data entry tool, but the information should be stored in a single database.

Another use is to get data from corporate databases and perform data analysis using spreadsheets. If you’re doing it for yourself, that’s fine. But if it’s is to be shared or used within the company, it poses some problems. A simple example is when the engineer asks IT for an extract from the database “to do some analysis”. Once this data is received, the engineer starts “preparing the data” which means QC, fixing wrong values, changing codes, removing outliers, etc.

Then the data is aggregated using the engineer’s unique preference. After a substantial amount of work, it is ready to be presented. While presenting the report someone else questions the offset wells used and requires another study with a different dataset. The engineer then goes back to square one, asking IT for some more data etc, etc. This involves an enormous amount of re-working. Not everyone is willing to repeat this process of re-analyzing “what-if” scenarios on a weekly basis.

What may then happen is that another engineer is asked to produce similar work in another field, using their own criteria as they do not know what the first engineer has done. When the two reports arrive at the common boss’s desk they are not comparable because, for example, they use a different aggregation process. Without going any further into this data conundrum, it becomes clear to everyone that using local separated files and processes, based on personal references, can lead to massive confusion and a loss of productivity. The data needs to be live from the main database and the reporting process common to all users involved.

The solution is to replace the spreadsheet in this function with a corporate application, which can read data live from databases and allow data combination/aggregation and cross-plotting facilities on this data.

 

 

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