A very popular oilfield services company had grown too fast and were being burdened with paperwork as a result of their success. Their field technicians were extremely competent and they had the confidence of industry that kept on contracting their field technicians. The work orders were being completed faster than the accounting system could process the invoices for payment. It got to be so overwhelming that the company was routinely invoicing 70 days after the work was completed. In order to meet payroll they had turned to utilizing their line of credit. Compounding their problem was an inability to accurately keep track of inventory and they would shut down for one week every year to “do inventory,” and then only realize how much they had in their warehouse. This was when they turned to us to see what we could do to upgrade their systems.
We worked through the day-to-day operating processes and the business cycle for all aspects of their organization and with information in hand were able to re-engineer their business processes in a different manner for conducting their affairs. Since it was already well established that they were extremely competent in being able to do the field service work and as a nature of their work their people were already diligent in keeping track of the parts and labour for the work they were contracted to do we started with the field work order. At the end of the day, when an order was complete, the field technician was required to have it signed off by the company who had contracted them to perform the work - this was, in a sense, a signed invoice for the work performed. The only thing not documented was the pricing of items and the accounting of dollars for labour.
The company had already had the complete Microsoft Office Suite® with Microsoft Access® on their computers. So we developed an Enterprise Resource Planning system for their business in Access® to minimize their up-front cost for investing in new hardware and software. We gave the ability for field offices to directly enter work orders into their database by simply recreating the field work order into an electronic format. An inventory database was created to also include pricing of components and was designed such that each service truck could also be interpreted as a mobile warehouse. We also created an invoicing system such that each field office where the work orders originated could turn field work orders into invoices the very same day. It was up to each field office to determine how best to handle their inventory needs (mobile warehouses or a central warehouse with items withdrawn to vehicles) and how best to handle their invoicing (same day invoicing, for example). Having signed work orders, by the clients themselves, as back up to the invoices made the invoicing process easy to implement.
The entire premise was based on getting the cash flowing by minimizing the amount of data that needed to be entered in the central office into their accounting system - essentially a cash-flow business model. Having the field offices enter the data and send the invoices simply meant that the central accounting office had to focus on what they did best which was ensure funds were flowing through the company in the most efficient means possible. The last piece of the puzzle was to create the inventory database and to also have it include consignment inventory as well as third-party inventory.
To top it all off we provided the necessary reports for the field office manager to keep track of everything that transpired in the office on a daily basis from work performed, invoices issued, outstanding invoices, and the state of affairs of inventory and purchase orders.
With an improved cash flow and an efficient and effective manner for capturing pertinent information the company was able to eliminate the dependence on their line of credit to satisfy payroll. The company was then able to decide how to invest in their future. This included their IT infrastructure and a decision to purchase an international and well established ERP application. The Microsoft Access® application having successfully been implemented as proof-of-concept provided the direction for the customization of the ERP application chosen by the company.