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The Aucerna Executive Breakfast discussion on “Integrated Planning”

As seen on LinkedIn, Published June 14th, 2018 by Lillian Warren

The inaugural Upstream Planning Survey was conducted from August 2017 through December 2017 and targeted individuals at leading E&Ps who participated significantly in their organization’s planning process.

It’s about people.

I’m not sure what I expected from an early morning breakfast event sponsored by a technology company (Aucerna) and a strategic consulting firm (KPMG) - probably more discussion about systems integration and dynamic planning models. But it’s about people.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of being part of an exclusive executive breakfast event to launch the results of a new survey on integrated planning, attended by executives and key decisions makers from a number of oil and gas operators. The event was highlighted by a moderated panel discussion focused on the current state of planning in upstream oil and gas.

When two planning executives on the panel talked about their challenges and their successes as they transformed their planning organizations to drive more value, the topic kept coming back to the human element, their teams – the people involved in the day to day operations of planning functions.

Throughout the morning, the discussion touched on a number of topics. The need for planning agility and speed of results. Fighting the ripple effect of being enamored by precision. The requirement for more data standards. Incorporating market intelligence or probabilistic analysis. But regardless of the topic, the closing comment was often along the lines of; “This is a significant shift…incorporating it into the thought process can be a cultural challenge.”

The top challenge per survey respondents was staff burn-out. The consensus of the morning’s discussion was that this is a top issue for the folks in the planning organization who do the heavy lifting. To some degree it’s a fact of life, “planning is not for the faint of heart”. But working in planning can be a great development opportunity and a chance to make a difference.

As one panelist said, “You get the opportunity to interact with the CEO and understand the total business. And there must be rewards for staying with the intense pace. The organization needs to provide a career path for these folks.”

Want to know where to start to improve your planning process?

The final word was; “Don’t forget the change management aspects of the process. It will be tough to change entrenched day-to-day mindsets and workflows. But in the end, it’s about people generating business value.”

The underlying assumption of the conversation was that appropriate technology must support the people. My favorite quote to that regard was; “We’re on a different race track and we need a different race car”. But the best race car in the world is not enough without a vision of what success means, and of course, a skilled driver.

If you want to see the complete results of the survey that drove this discussion, Aucerna has made them available.