How Land Administrators Can Improve Efficiencies with
Better System Integration

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The Ultimate Guide:
How to Choose the Right Land Management Software for Your Upstream Oil & Gas Organization

A Detailed Look at the Critical Nature of Advanced Technologies for Today’s Land Management Teams

Download NowHow Key Players Keep a Land Department Running SmoothlyWhy is Land Management a Critical Component to the Upstream Value Chain?Land Software Must-Haves

1.  Understand the Types of Software Environments

How to Recognize It’s Time for a Change

How Key Players Keep a Land Department Running Smoothly

Table of Contents

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Why is Land Management a Critical Component to the Upstream Value Chain?

  • The health of every E&P company depends on good land management 
  • High-dollar investments are at stake 
  • Allows land professionals to acquire the best leases and acquire them faster (shorter lease-cycle times) 
  • Land data provides a comprehensive picture of a company’s asset portfolio and helps them stay competitive 
  • Every E&P needs accurate valuations which start with accurate land data

What does good land management look like? Today, it is a holistic approach to managing the entire E&P land life cycle, using technology and automation as the foundation for a thriving program. Twenty-first century land management is a combination of interactive mapping, streamlined lease acquisitions, automated recommendation processes, and one-click data analysis that allow land professionals to effectively manage their land portfolios.

Land Managers

  • Manage relationships between landowners and oil & gas companies 
  • Understand the ins and outs of land and mineral rights 
  • Maintain oversight of all negotiations, analysis, and research

How Land Administrators Can Use Real-Time Metrics to Report
on Land & Lease Assets

How to Recognize It’s Time for a Change

The ability to coalesce these key players and the processes and platforms they use helps ensure lease operational effectiveness. Visualizing and interpreting land data in one place is essential to the overall management of an effective land program.

Land Software Must-Haves

As you embark on the process of choosing a land system that will benefit your department and organization, there are must-have attributes to look for; in other words, search for a solution that provides the following: 

  • An automated and seamlessly integrated platform 
  • The ability to see accurate information faster and address any problems or corrections in a timely manner 
  • Sophisticated reporting capabilities 
  • Seamless GIS mapping capabilities

How to Select the Right Software for Your Land Management Department

As a small or mid-size upstream oil and gas and organization, do you find that the software you’re using for land management is dated, requiring you to rely on spreadsheets to fill the gaps? Are people within your organization spending so much time multi-tasking that they don’t have time to pay attention to key indicators related to land and lease obligations? Perhaps you’re a larger organization that needs to better utilize land data more effectively to identify opportunities to optimize across the board. In either scenario, understanding how to strengthen your land management practices can lead to improved decision making, plus tighter cross-departmental integration.

Choosing a land solution is a decision that will impact your organization for five, even 10 years, given the number of integrations to other systems and processes inherent in implementing this type of software. Thoughtful, diligent research should be a mandatory part of your selection process.

Read on to learn about the nine steps you should take when considering the purchase of a new or upgraded land and lease management system that will support your organization and help create avenues toward success.

Combination of interactive mapping, streamlined lease acquisitions, automated recommendation processes,
and one-click data analysis

Oil and Gas Land Management Software

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Why Use Industry-Specific Software?

Manage contracts 

  • Partner relationships 

  • Area of mutual interest 

  • Joint ventures 

Acquire leases 

  • Generate and capture data in the field/at the source

  • No need to re-enter data, ever 

  • Watch your projects’ progress on a map

Land software is deployed in one of two ways: in the cloud or on premise. Both possess distinct advantages, and there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” choice; it depends on your current situation and needs. Convene with your internal stakeholders, including IT, to understand what type of platform will better serve your business. Consider whether you are leaning toward an on-premise solution today but need the flexibility of moving to the cloud in the future. Use the list of pros/cons below to further determine which environment is most advantageous.

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How Land Administrators Can Quickly Access, Visualize, and Manage Data Through Their Land System

The best way to understand the challenges and limitations of your current systems and processes is to involve all stakeholders early. Because land impacts so many other functions in an upstream oil and gas company, it’s important to not only include core stakeholders, but also those who rely on land data.

Understand Your Business Processes

As important as how you conduct your business process is the why. Are your processes the result of years of workarounds using the tools you currently have in place? What would those processes look like in a perfect scenario?

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Landmen 

  • Negotiate land and mineral rights between landowners and oil & gas companies 
  • Research ownership, titles, public/private records

Lease Administrators 

  • Analyze leases 
  • Manage leases, titles, and mineral & land rights documents 
  • Understand lease provisions and custom clauses 
  • Maintain an understanding of, and familiarity with, SEC 
  • Manage obligations and suggest payments

GIS Managers 

  • Acquire and interpret data and generate visual representations of that data
  • Leverage accurate well, lease, land, and activity data

Division Order Analysts 

  • Ensure proper distribution of revenues obtained from oil and/or gas production or other mineral deposits; ongoing maintenance of the mineral ownership of those wells

Finance Personnel 

  • Ensure accurate reporting of companywide costs 
  • Ensure accurate reporting of gross and net acreage 
  • Identify areas to make strategic financial improvement decisions

How does an upstream oil & gas company know when it’s time to reevaluate its land system? (Or perhaps consider software implementation for the first time.) If you’re experiencing more than a few of the following challenges in your land department, it may be time for you to evaluate a change.

46% of respondents said data quality (accuracy/consistency) is a significant challenge/issue. Poor data quality is the result of land departments using spreadsheets to manage data. The following is a breakdown of how often various land functions rely on spreadsheets for process.

“Ditch the spreadsheets and use advanced technologies to derive value from your data.” – PwC

Manage leases 

  • Maintain accurate acreage inventory 

  • Manage critical obligations 

  • Access data with ease 

  • Retain leases in key areas 

View well information 

  • View well status and critical dates 

  • Link wells to all land files 

  • View leases affected by well status and identify obligations 

Manage minerals 

  • View what you own, what you have leased, and what remains unleased 

View activity 

  • Easily view and report on all land information 

  • Manage third-party activity 

  • Identify trends and competitive intelligence 

Often lowering land budgets by up to 30%, P2 iLandMan is the only cloud, tract, and formation-based system that automates the entire E&P land life cycle, giving land professionals accurate net acreage values and real-time visibility into lease positions.

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Cloud vs. On-Premise

Cloud Solutions

Cloud solutions are hosted on a vendor’s servers and accessed through a web browser. They’re generally priced as a monthly or annual subscription and considered an operating expenditure.

Pros 

  • Low cost of entry/cheaper upfront investment 

  • Ease of implementation

  • Predictable costs and few maintenance expenses

  • Easy mobile accessibility

  • Faster uptime and fewer service disruptions

  • Scalability

  • Continuous system updates provided by the vendor

  • Flexible working patterns for global users

Cons

  • Less customization and less control

  • Reliant upon internet connection

On-Premise Solutions

On-premise solutions are installed locally, on a company’s own computers and servers. They’re generally priced as a one-time, perpetual license fee and considered a capital expenditure.

Pros 

  • Easier to modify and customize 

  • Data security is in the hands of the organization; more control over data security 

  • In-house system checks as needed 

  • More control over the implementation process and upgrades 

  • Not reliant upon an internet connection 

Cons

  • Mobile accessibility 

  • Requires a larger upfront capital investment (more expensive in the short term) 

  • Experienced IT staff needed to manage system 

  • Company is responsible for hardware and IT costs 

  • Scalability requires manual labor + necessary hardware/software 

2.  Include All Stakeholders

3.  Catalog User Processes and Needs

The next step in finding the right solution is to identify the unique needs of your land management group and the departments that rely on them. The best approach is to determine what problems you’d like the software to solve for, and what metrics will define success.

Identify the Pain Points

What issues do employees encounter on a regular basis? What is taking a long time? What takes too many steps? How often does work have to be redone? Is data entry being duplicated?

Assign the Value

Are there opportunities to shave minutes, hours, even days from tasks surrounding land management? By using a database (land solution), information like owner names and tract descriptions are associated, thereby reducing data entry. Further, GIS mapping systems that are connected to lease data give land departments a visual representation of their prospect area, providing them a comprehensive overview and allowing them to make decisions more efficiently. Knowing the value of each process and task will help you identify must-have efficiencies in a new system.

When meeting with your champion stakeholders, start at a high level and identify the specific business challenges that need to be addressed. Think about why you are ready to evaluate a new solution for your land management needs. Can it support complex land and lease scenarios? Does it handle tasks and processes that are otherwise managed in spreadsheets?

4.  Create a Requirements List

Developing a comprehensive list of business and technical requirements based on the processes you have identified is the next step. Whether you have a large group of stakeholders weighing in or a smaller team being represented, you will need to identify leads for each category of requirements.

Important Functional Requirements to Consider:

  • Usability requirements. Is intuitive navigation through the system important? How critical is mobility to your stakeholders? Or are there parts of the solution that will lend more to desktop-style interaction?
  • Technology preferences. Would a cloud-based or on-premise system work best? How will the data be housed? Your IT stakeholders will provide direction on infrastructure requirements if you are considering on premise. If you’re not able to support the infrastructure in house, a cloud-based solution supported by the software vendor could be a viable alternative.

Specific Land Management Requirements to Keep in Mind

Your new software must be functional, adaptable, and sophisticated. Crucial, however, is that it’s land specific and tailored to your everyday practices. Ensure the software you choose is:

  • Lease or tract based
  • Formation based
  • Fully integrated with a GIS solution
  • Able to manage all steps in the land life cycle
  • Able to incorporate workflows that are intuitive to land business processes
  • Equipped with a dashboard that includes key indicators such as payments due, obligation schedules, net acreage at-a-glance, and more

Using your exhaustive list of requirements, break them out into “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.” It’s unlikely that an off-the-shelf solution will meet every one of your criteria, so consider which requirements would be assigned to these groups.

5.  Create a Short List*

During this step, aim to whittle down your ‘potential software systems’ list to three to five choices based on two primary sources:

  1. Research that includes publicly available information on each vendor
  2. Your peers in the industry

Work to identify the systems most suitable for your team, processes, and goals defined in the previous steps – referencing your requirements list at all times.

Requirements Match

Review your working list of essential functionalities, must-haves, and nice-to-haves against the matrix of potential solutions to help determine which providers offer most of the features you are looking for based on publicly available information. Keep in mind the features that you had not considered but discovered during your research.

Platform Preference

Get with your stakeholders, including IT, and decide what type of platform will best serve your needs. If a vendor only offers or supports an on-premise option, and you’re looking for a cloud-based solution, cross it off the list. Consider whether you are leaning toward an on-premise solution today but need the flexibility of moving to the cloud in the future.

Services Options

Does the vendor have a deep services bench and a proven on time, on budget implementation history? Are there other service providers with experience implementing each vendor’s software?

Vendor Status and Vision

Take into consideration the longevity, depth of product line, and breadth of support for the product. Focus on providers that are clearly designing products with the future in mind. This is evident if they are building products with integration capabilities. Choosing a platform that has a broad user base allows you to capitalize on the associated resources, knowledge base, and tech community.

Budget

You may not have exact costs, but based on your research, you should be able to assign each prospective software to a cost tier: low, medium, and high, for example.

*Make notes as to why you’ve eliminated each potential vendor and/or package. If your requirements change, you can reintroduce those options later.

6.  Request a Demo

With three to five strong options in hand, it’s time to request a demo from each one, ensuring you are prepared to ask a lot of questions.

During the demos, be transparent about your challenges and requirements. The more potential vendors know about your needs, the better they can communicate and demonstrate how their software can help. Take copious notes about what you like and don’t like.

Educating each vendor’s sales team on your selection criteria will help them be more responsive. If they know what you need and when you need it, they’re in a better position to fully demonstrate their solutions’ capabilities for each requirement. Don’t be afraid to ask for a more granular look into the features and functionalities that pertain to your specific situation.

Concentrate on assessing the software against your criteria using a requirements matrix. If there are multiple stakeholders attending the demos, consider giving them each the list of requirements with scorecard style points that they can award to each vendor for each requirement.

Post demos, don’t make a final decision until everyone has thoroughly scored and ranked each solution. Ask for supplemental materials if needed (screenshots, a copy of the recorded demo, etc.). Ensure your top choice can satisfy nearly every “must-have” and most of your “nice-to-haves.”

If you find yourself with a hung jury, consider a roundtable discussion and vote, or opt for another demo that addresses stakeholders’ questions and concerns. Conversely, if you think you have a winner, hold off on communicating the decision until you have completed the additional steps below.

7.  Understand Costs

When considering total cost of ownership, simultaneously consider the potential return on investment. The benefits of a particular software system and how they specifically address your needs and requirements should be taken into consideration first.

Overall Cost

Choose a system that helps you optimize and grow. Resist making a decision based solely on cost. Focus on usability, integration capabilities, and features/functionalities that will help streamline workflows and meet key performance indicators. Software can be expensive, but if it meets your requirements and solves a need, the return on investment can be favorable.

Pricing Specifics

Understand the 360-degree view of what you’re purchasing and nail down specifics on what is included in the software, what’s not, and what add-ons might cost down the road.

When you start discussions with vendors, uncover specific costs around the following:

  • License fees (perpetual and/or subscription)
  • Hardware requirements
  • Implementation fees including:
    1. Data conversion
    2. Configuration
    3. Report building
    4. Parallel testing
    5. Training (one-time or ongoing, class-based or one-on-one)
    6. Project management
  • Annual maintenance
  • Ongoing support

8.  Verify References & Vendor Viability

It’s now time to verify that the provider and its product are what they have claimed to be. Ask for two or three customer references who have similar portfolios, operate in the same regions as you do, and/or are similar in size.

Questions to ask:

  • What challenges do you face with the system?
  • How does the vendor respond to these challenges? Are they prompt in their response?
  • What would you change about the software if you could?
  • Would you recommend this vendor and product?

Consider whether the vendor exclusively focuses on upstream oil and gas land management and has experience across the domain. Confirm they will be there to support the system with regular product updates, reliable customer support, and an active user community to maximize your investment.

9.  Make Your Selection

After references check out, costs have been nailed down, and all internal parties are aligned, review all considerations.

  • Opinions of stakeholders and users
  • Features of the system and how they stack up to your requirements
  • All costs associated with implementing and using the system
  • Overall feelings about the demo(s)
  • Feedback from references
  • Viability of the provider

You should be ready to select your new software system, and prepare for your implementation project.

Land management is a crucial link in the upstream value chain because the health of every exploration and production organization depends on it. For land departments to remain competitive now and into the future, investments in technology should be prioritized. Automation of repetitive and manual tasks, monitoring, and reporting will improve systems and operations and allow teams to use real-time data to assess performance and drive decisions.

Parting ThoughtsHow to Select the Right Software for Your Land Management DepartmentWhy Use Industry-Specific Software?

Parting Thoughts

What are the three greatest land data/systems challenges faced by your organization?

Spreadsheets/offline databases used to a great extent by process

Other Functions/Departments Reliant on Land Data

  • Accounting – Requires all ownership interests and payment obligations
  • Engineering – Needs to understand lease obligations that affect drill/production schedules
  • Geology & Geophysics – Works to identify optimal drill sites using formation-based lease data
  • Mapping – Uses land data to combine various exploration data layers creating comprehensive visual representations
  • Reporting – Provides key business indicators to answer complex exploration questions
  • Executive Team and Board – Consumes land data to understand asset valuation and make strategic decisions

Having early and ongoing involvement of stakeholders is critical because even the best software can fail if internal users aren’t fully on board.

Core Stakeholders

  • VPs and land managers
  • Land staff
  • Land administration staff
  • GIS and IT
  • Land service company contractors
  • Reporting requirements. Consider the types of reporting (including formats) that will be needed from the new system. Are there users who will always rely on formatted or canned reports, or will they be willing to switch to dashboard-style views? Should users be able to build their own reports, or will they need to go through a hierarchy to get data? Do they want to extract data from reports?
  • Scalability. Think about your current portfolio and land profile and what might be expected in the future. Don’t settle for a solution that will struggle to fulfill your needs in a year or two due to asset and organizational growth.
  • Vendor requirements. What are you expecting from a vendor? Training, support, an involved user community? Does the vendor have a roadmap for future development they are willing to share? What are support response times? How many references can they provide?
  • Budgetary requirements. How much are you willing to spend on software licenses, maintenance, and implementation services? Land software is key to your business’ bottom line, and you should consider how efficiencies brought on by a new system can provide a return on investment (ROI).

Why is Land Management a Critical Component to the Upstream Value Chain?

How Key Players Keep a Land Department Running Smoothly

How to Recognize It’s Time for a Change

Why Use Industry-Specific Software?

Land Software Must-Haves

How to Select the Right Software for Your Land Management Department

Parting Thoughts

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