Land & Technology: On the Same Team
With Trish Clark, VP of Land at YES Energy and Dean Ruston, of Pandell
Duration: 58mins, Released Mar 16, 2022
As a busy Land Professional, you're constantly balancing your daily deliverables with evolving processes. It's hard to find time for new technology, but it's a reliable path to realizing efficiencies and career advancement.
In this webinar Trish Clark, VP of Land at YES Energy and Dean Ruston, of Pandell discuss how to effectively use technology to manage your company's land assets, and free up time to focus on providing additional value for your company.
They share the challenges they've seen land departments face, and how land software and other technologies can work from both a business and technical perspective. You'll learn about how to overcome challenges present in the A&D process, land source information and revenue recovery projects.
About The Pandell Leadership Series
The Pandell Leadership Series is a collection of free webinars featuring presentations by energy industry experts in a variety of specialized fields. Topics range from global business issues to recommended best practices in oil and gas; pipelines; mining; utilities; and the renewable energy industry (including wind, solar, hydrogen, geothermal, marine & hydrokinetic, nuclear and biomass power).
Please Note: Views and opinions expressed by the PLS presenter(s) do not necessarily represent the views of Pandell and its representatives.
ELIZA WITH PANDELL Okay good afternoon, everybody. Nice to see a big group online today for our next in a series of the Pandell Leadership Webinars. Today's topic is Land and Technology: On the Same Team.
We have two fantastic speakers today and they are Trish Clark the VP of YES Energy Source and Dean Ruston our Senior Account Executive here at Pandell. So, a little bit about them. Trish is a land professional who has worked in the oil and gas industry for over 30 years. She has held Senior Management, Executive, and Director positions for small to large companies. Trish joined YES Energy Source at its inception 10 years ago. And she saw the opportunity to marry her land business acumen with technologic ingenuity.
Dean's career began 30 years ago as a software developer for the CS Explorer land system. Followed that he formed a company called Viking Technology which focused on the technical aspects such as conversions, reporting, integrations, and working with land departments to approve efficiencies. He grew that company servicing over 100 oil and gas clients. And after Viking he took a full-time position with a mid-sized foreign owned oil and gas company where he spent 11 years as Land Business Analyst and IT management. But we've been lucky enough to have Dean on our Pandell team for just almost three years now. So, without further ado I will ask that Dean and Trish please unmute their mics and I will pass the screen over to you.
TRISH Thank you for the introduction. Now everybody knows how old Dean and I are. Having that many years of experience. While YES Energy is software agnostic we work on a lot of software. We actually approached Pandell about a year ago now, to enter into a strategic partnership with them. We just felt our values and where we see the future of land software go align very well. And you know given our backgrounds we feel land and technology is a pretty good fit.
DEAN WITH PANDELL For sure yeah. YES has become a partner with Pandell. So, we'll recommend YES to clients. And you know Pandell we focus on onboarding our clients onto the software and making sure you're happy while you're on the software. But you know we felt a partnership with YES could help support our business. They offer the, you know additional land services that we don't offer, and they bring a flare for using technology for the land business. So, we really enjoy this partnership.
TRISH Yeah and today we wanted to talk about the value of technology. The importance of land systems and there are some key areas where we think technology can have an impact for land professionals.
So, in the last two years if it's taught us anything it's the value of technology. Technology that surrounds land is going to be our focus today. You know with industry downturns and global pandemics it's forced companies to do more with less resources. And I think there's just a need to work smarter and not harder. And I believe that technology is the solution.
DEAN WITH PANDELL Well definitely you know technology has brought us the capability to work from home. Like when I look at Pandell there's been no really, no disruption working at home. You know and I really think it depends on the type of company and the role in the company. But what we definitely did lose was that social interaction. And you know my role especially depends on that social interaction and definitely not being in a room with people is more difficult to feel the vibe of the room and get to meet people personally.
TRISH For sure and I think you know the challenges the land industry faced with moving to a to home bases was you know the fact that the dependence on external and internal paper documentation. You know which gets sent out in mail, T2P courier deliveries, physical files, and filing systems. So, it's really hard for land departments to kind of manage that paper trail off-site and there needs to be ways to do that electronically.
DEAN WITH PANDELL Yeah and that's definitely an area that we can help with technology. You know with a land system that the large amount of data fields that land professionals have to track and are responsible for it's amazing. You know due to the amount of information in the land system like your administration of your contracts, your leases, your wells, your joint interest agreement it's all very taxing and systems need to be smarter and more efficient.
You know also becoming more efficient around reporting like you know trying to format reports and pulling information into reports can be very time consuming. And it's not really the job that a lot of land people have went to school for its job you know that I went to school for. And allowing land professionals to be more mobile is still important as you can see over the last couple years while having the information on their mobile device. And then of course integration to all the new government data sources out there and third-party data sources is also very important.
One of the questions I got like how many land departments out there since 2015 were decreased in size by half or more without any of the assets being sold right. So, land is and other departments in oil and gas have really taken a hit. And you know this downturn in staff reduction is forcing software companies to assess how their software can help plan, get through all the work more efficiently. You know for example providing more capabilities of handling mass updates and improving on reporting tools so they can kind of spend less time putting those reports together.
TRISH Yeah, you know our industry is like no other really. It's very cyclical and dependent on international markets, government participation, and legislative uncertainty. But technology I think helps maximize the output from existing resources and allows them to manage industry downturns a little bit better. But you know how can a land professional embrace technology? I think the first step is we need to know what's possible. And I always say if you think something can be done electronically it usually can. Do you need to be a super user of the software or have a computer science background?
No, I think you just need to know what's possible and the name of a good BA to make it happen for you. And I know Dean you would agree with me that technology for land professionals start with a good land system.
DEAN WITH PANDELL Well I'm obviously very biased with land. You know I've always thought land was kind of that central hub of information in the company. And you know when you look at it lands responsible for…they have the most conclusive well list in the company typically because not only do they track their operated wells, but they track all the non-op wells too. One of the few departments that has to do that. They maintain all the interest in those wells whether it's a working royalty or a trust interest. And then they also maintain all the contracts with their joint venture partners. So, it among other stuff right and so it's a big job that land has in front of them.
Quick little story I guess about this this one project I worked on. You know this project the approach on it was great. It was a major company I worked with at the time. And they wanted to create a corporate well system. And I thought it's a great initiative we definitely needed it. And the approach was good in that they went to each department, and they asked that department for their well list. And then all the fields or attributes in that well list they kind of said okay who's the authoritative source of that field from your perspective? And so, they recorded all this, identified it all. The one mistake they made is they approached the land department as one of the last departments. So, when they got to land, and they got our well list, and they ran against what they had. They found out that land had 99.5 percent of all the wells in the company. And what's worse by this point they had spent a million dollars on this project. So, needless to say they canceled the project they started using their land well databases kind of that corporate well list. And I think some of the people that were working on that project weren't there anymore.
TRISH Well and I guess the moral of the story is you know your land system it's really your source of truth. It's really the legal representation of what you own and that's what land people do. You know we make sure the company has legal title to its land assets and there's other internal stakeholders that we have that rely on that information. You know accounting for they need the ownership for production accounting, payables, revenues, audit. Engineering for reserve reporting, business development, G&G [geological and geophysical], drilling and development. You know our own land departments need it for strategic positioning, business development, leasehold and contractual obligations. You know and of course at an executive level we need it for annual and quarterly reporting.
So, land really should be the source of truth that disseminates into those departments. You know we also have external stakeholders such as you know our partners, government agencies, brokers. And you know and when we go to do an asset sale most of the information needed to divest assets are housed in the land system. You know and it's relied upon to calculate the land asset value. It's used for schedule preparation, for ROFR [Right of First Refusal] value, spreadsheets where you pull in all of your ownership information, your encumbrances, your royalties, your permitted encumbrances on your leases, and poolings units. All of that information, so that they can properly assess the value of that particular ROFR. You know and of course with specific conveyance preparation all the information's in the land system.
DEAN WITH PANDELL So, what we did with this presentation we looked at the five areas that we felt were some of the highest impacted by technology or could be impacted by technology as well. And you know these five areas like during my consulting years and years in oil and gas I noticed the most effort being put around these areas. So, and I felt it was the most positive impact that I provided. And you know the areas of A&D [acquisition and divestment] obviously, just reporting in general we're going to talk about a fair bit. Revenue recovery, digitization and process efficiencies.
You know it comes down to using the software to reduce effort and generate efficiencies. Of course, technology can't do it all though, nor do you want it to. You know it'll never physically probably update DOI's, royalties, and chain of title electronically. That's you know something that we rely on the land professional to do. It won't replace the knowledge that you bring to land, it'll just take some of the heavy lifting off your plate. That's what technology should do.
TRISH Right and in my experience, I found the most impactful area of land that technology can enhance is the A&D process. Every facet of the sale process can be enhanced with technology. It's one area of land that's really heavy on the tasks and short on the time. You know I started doing A&D work in the late 90s and I always thought the process was so labor intensive. And it's actually when I met you Dean. You know we were able to solve these issues through your technical ingenuity and my search for the possibilities to do things better. You know and it all starts with what do we want to sell?
You know just for a little story here too. I had a client that you know the President of the company said I need x number dollars for a project over here so we're going to have to divest some properties. So, they went to the accounting department and said what can we sell that will add up to this much money? And so, they gave a list of wells and then they went to the engineering group and said you know is it okay to sell these wells? And then they came to the land group and then they said sell these wells.
And so, you know of course the first thing a land person will say well what do you want to sell with the wells? I've got a lease here that goes with one or two of the wells on your list, but I got three or four other wells that are attributed to this lease that is not on your list, so you want me to split the lease? Like how are we going to do it?
And the interesting thing about that is that you know the motions had already started and you know land was holding up their hands saying wait a minute, wait a minute. And what ended up happening was they did the deal; it was a surgical extraction. And to this day, and this was quite a number of years ago that this had happened, but to this day that company still uses that deal as a marker for how not to do a deal. So, I think you know all the departments contribute to the A&D process and so we shouldn't look at everything in a silo. We should look at it together and land is a very big important part of that.
You know land creates the land schedules. What about a writable land schedule? You know you've often got deals that you're carving out certain rights or have exclusions. And rather than having to go through your system and sub out all of these rights or the rights that you're retaining to create your land schedule. You know it would be nice to have a writable land schedule that you could just change the land schedule because a lot of we've been involved in a lot of deals where there it's a failed process and they never end up getting sold. Meanwhile you spend all this time, money, and resources on updating your land system and you really don't need those subs moving forward.
DEAN WITH PANDELL That reminds me of a story Trish. Back in the day approached by a company and they were selling off their duvernay assets or trying to sell off the duvernay assets. So, we didn't have a writable schedule. And so, it's not like we could just take those leases export them out to excel, update it, and move on right and put in the BDR. But so, what we had to do is, I had to electronically create a sub or a split reflecting those duvernay rights and put a you know like a pending disposition on it, status, and you know…because we were talking over 3,000 splits. Like it wasn't something that you could do manually, or you know it didn't make sense to do it manually. So, you know you're bang on. Like if we would have that schedule in proper format, it would have been much, much better.
TRISH Right and in most A&D transactions you never have the luxury of time to do all of that. You know the other thing is you know the due diligence either. You know, seller’s due diligence or buyer’s due diligence. You know typically we do the top 80 percent value assets, but you know what we need to do is prioritize it. So, we need to say bring…so here's my top 80 percent wells. What contracts are related to them? And then choose those contracts that maybe have the most wells on so that you can kind of bang those out.
What I've been seeing over the last 10 years is a lot of people again with A&D it's time and money. We don't have the time this deal is moving very fast. You know you want to do some sellers due diligence because you don't ever want your buyer to find anything that's going to reduce that purchase price. So, it's an important facet but time and resources haven't allowed a lot of companies to really have it.
So, I think prioritization is really important and also to kind of digitize the process. Like I know a lot of people the way it's been done I think it continues to be done is they will have a checklist and they hand write out all of their information on the checklist, all of the land date information that's already in a system, and they write it all out by hand, and do their review from there. You know again if we can digitally extract that data and put it in the format. Then we're not spending our time reinventing the wheel on all of that data and we just need to confirm that data and confirm title.
You know another quick way of ensuring you have title is government source data and comparing it to your existing data. Whether that be wells, or crown registrations, land titles, making sure that you're registered, and you've got your caveats. All that can be electronically done with government source data.
So, the next big thing with A&D that can that technology can definitely assist is the specific conveyance preparation. I mean like I said your land system has everything you need to know. The tricky part is getting that information from your land system in a format that you need in order to generate those conveyance documents, so you're not typing out every document. And in the larger deals when you're dealing with hundreds and hundreds of documents you know and aggressive deadlines you need to shorten that process.
We had a client a few years back they were exiting out of Canada. They did it in two asset deals and a stock deal and they had three months to do it. They brought us in. We weren't allowed…it was all confidential, so we weren't allowed to engage in any assistance on the deal. And through the electronic processes, and they were very large significant divestments, and we were able to accomplish them and meet all of our deadlines.
DEAN WITH PANDELL That's amazing. Three months to do a deal like that.
TRISH To do three deals. That's three deals.
DEAN WITH PANDELL It's amazing. As you're talking there I just thought of another story. That's what I'm here for is to tell stories. But you know we one time we built an application for a company, a kind of mid-sized company. How that started is the VP of Land came to me and said yeah, we're gonna bring in a consulting company to produce all the conveyance documentation for one of the dispositions. And I said to him, well you know, okay I get it but you know can I at least look at it technically and see if I can try and save you some money and make it repeatable.
And so, we did. We looked at it. We brought in a software development company. We designed it. We built it. I don't think we saved the money on that first deal per se, but I definitely know it's been used, it was used for at least 10 years and so it definitely paid off over the years for sure. But the massive amounts of data and documents that we produced I mean there was you know 80 different document templates for conveyancing which is massive.
TRISH It is, and you know even when we're doing government transfers you know on the DDS [Digital Data Submission] system, the wells. So, we've done large deals where you've got thousands of wells. And to manually enter each well facility and pipeline into the government system to do those transfers. Again, very time consuming. You know whenever you're manually entering something you're always you know especially with UWI's [Unit Well Identifer] you know you might be making mistakes which can throw everything off. Of course, you need well ownership, you need facility ownership, and not just your own ownership but all of your partners in those systems. So, with the government systems they all have the capability to electronically upload this data but again the challenge is getting that data out of our land system and getting it into a format that you can update it into the government systems. So, you know we can do better on that with better technology that's more available at our fingertips.
For sure. You know and so…once you get all of your conveyance document now you've got to distribute it to all of your partners. Two years ago, this month we had a client who's doing a divestment and of course the pandemic hit and downtown shut down and everybody was working from home. And so, we got on the phone with the lawyers from both sides of the deal and we're like, how are we going to deliver first and foremost the right of first refusals because we need a receipt that they received those right of first refusals [ROFR]. So, how are we going to deliver them because we can't use a courier nobody's in their offices? You know there was a suggestion of fax, and which was comical because I don't know how long it's been since I've used a fax machine but nonetheless the fax machine you have to have somebody in the office to receive it, there's like the paper runs out, all of those kinds of challenges.
So, what we thought of is an electronic portal. And it allowed us to put documents in a portal and send these documents electronically. Because at that time too, companies were sending out notice to industry to send them time sensitive documents via a certain email that they would send out. So, which is fine you can send the ROFR by email, but you don't get a timestamp that they've received it. You just know that you've sent it. So, in the portal and what the lawyers like too is we could put a terms and conditions. So, you would receive this portal, you'd tap into it, I agree to the terms and conditions that you know if I open up this document, I am deemed to have received it. And so electronically we can timestamp that. We know exactly when that person opened up that document. We have a record of it. We can tell if you went into that document one time or 20 times. So, that was really important and that was a well received thing that we can do.
And the other benefit was on the specific conveyance documents. We had one company they had 250 assignments, NOA's [Notice of Assignment] and various assignments that that we had to deliver to them. So, within minutes we could put those electronic documents in the portal. Send it to them and they upload it into their system, and they've got all the documents. So, it was very, very fast.
DEAN WITH PANDELL I'm curious if you ever got any pushback like from companies, kind of rejecting using that portal.
TRISH You know it was very widely received very well. We've got a lot of positive feedback on it, a lot of people liked it. There were the odd company, like I can like maybe two companies who didn't want to go into the porthole for whatever reason. They weren't familiar with the process, and they didn't want to go into it.
The other challenge to that, and I think it's a challenge that we have as an industry, is your address for service is in your contract, and that is usually an address. And so, during the pandemic we had the notices from companies saying okay this is you can now send documents to this electronic address but of course we had a lot of companies who didn't send out those notices. So, we had to go in and get permission from them to send those documents and so I kind of propose, and I think it's a capital solution, would be to maybe we need to go back and amend all of our agreements and include electronic address for service. Might be something like the capital assignment procedure we did in 1993 whereas companies have buy-in, and it essentially amends all of our previous contracts and moving forward we need to be putting an electronic address for service in all of our documents.
So, you know the advantage of electronic preparation I think we can all agree it's very timely. So, it kind of supports aggressive deadline. Changes can be done to those documents. So, often you know you're selling a property, but you don't know who your purchaser is. We can electronically create all of the specific conveyance documents and once we have that purchaser in place, we can electronically update those from the source which will update all of our documents. So, you're not going back into each document and putting in your purchaser information.
You know and the other advantages you need limited resources so you're not…don't have to like have a lot of desk space, computer setup, you don't have a whole team of people to manage. And, most importantly because a lot of times if you don't have an A&D department this falls on the land department. And so, it's very difficult to try to do these divestments along with your day-to-day land responsibilities. And one of the big things for me is that this saves trees, this saves the environment, and it saves a lot of paper cuts too to be quite honest with you.
So, now that we've you know we've got our deal closed and everything, we need to terminate those assets in our system. Once as a seller once you have your money on the asset, you don't want to spend any more money on that. It's gone, you want to focus on your retained assets. But you need to terminate your files, you need to add an amendment, perhaps a remark, you need to tie them all with your, relate them all to your PSA [Private Surface Agreement] file. To manually do that could take somebody you know weeks, months depending on how much time they have to focus on it. And electronically you can really do it in a day. It's that quickly. So, it'll allow you just to move on.
So, and then on the opposite side. If you're doing an acquisition, you're going to be looking at doing a land conversion. The one thing that I always tell my clients is always negotiate in your PSA, your right to electronic information. It's really, really key because in standard purchase and sale agreements you have the right to the files. You have the right to the information but you it doesn't specify in what format that the purchaser or the seller has to give the purchaser.
So, that's really key and you know are you going to do an electronic conversion, a manual, or a hybrid? I have rarely ever seen an argument, a good argument for an entirely manual process. There's always something that you can do to make it a hybrid, to use electronic. Whether it's loading your wells at the least because often you'll get different software that you're transferring from. This software into another software. It's like putting a round peg in a square hole. So, can we electronically load the wells? That's kind of a low hanging fruit there. But often we can glean the header information and load the header, or the sub information, the base sub information, load that information. And maybe manually we'll have to enter the DOI’s and do the linking and everything. But there's always some electronic aspect that I think you can do a hybrid conversion rather than a complete manual.
You know in the benefits of the electronic, accuracy for one. Especially if you're loading wells. Like I said those UWI’s you can be one number off and you've changed your well right. So, less typing errors, it's more cost effective certainly, more time efficient. Often you need to get those assets assimilated with your existing assets. You need to get your acreage reporting going. You need to get your rental payments done. Also, you know resources and infrastructure. You're not going to need a bunch of offices and computers if you're going to do it electronically. And also, when you do it electronic you can do it custom. At least we do it custom. You know and during that process too we often note deficiencies in the data that require reviews. So, a post conversion review, we can target that. And so, instead of having to review everything starting at your first file you can target situations that look a little bit different. Either they do them the data is set up differently than your data or the data looks to be error with errors. So, those are kind of the benefits of an electronic conversion.
DEAN WITH PANDELL Well definitely I 100 percent agree, and I'm biased. But yeah, definitely doing a conversion electronically, depending on the size, is in my opinion the way to go. Like Trish says you don't have to do DOI's, royalties you can do the base file, the header file, information in the wells, and the supporting assets and stuff. You know they…what I do find conversions aren't all slam dunk of course. Like what I find is the longer conversion takes you know the chance of success diminishes. So, it's really important to focus on the conversion and do it in a short amount of time. And you know and the reason for that is there's always staffing turnovers, there's business disruptions, there's other priorities. And the longer conversion takes typically the more it costs too right. So, to me when you're doing a fairly sizable conversion, if you can't have it done in three to four months it's you know you have to start looking at the process.
TRISH Right, I think you know the major thing is companies need to you know start managing their required assets as soon as possible, so time is of the essence. And you know if you've done a lot of acquisitions, you should be looking at our next slide here, our next topic is the revenue recovery. Especially if your deals have been white mapped and that goes for divestments as well.
DEAN WITH PANDELL For sure. It's one area you know around land that you know in the past over the years I always looked at you know okay how can I, go over and above and try to bring value into land? Because land has a lot of valuable assets. The information in the land system is valuable to the company. And so, you know revenue recovery like perhaps due to several acquisitions that you're doing, or wells coming on production that you weren't notified of, or even your operators. Let's say you got a GOR [Gross Overriding Royalty] interest and your operators didn't notify you when they put on well on production. All those things can create gaps with land and operations accounting. And it's an area that I think you should constantly monitor for sure.
TRISH Yeah, I would agree we're actually doing one for a client and we're going back quite a bit because they haven't done this process in a number of years. And you know what we're finding too is even they on, they were due revenue from say a royalty well that they were never notified of it. So, they don't have it in their system. Accounting doesn't have it in their system. And they were owed revenue and then they sold the property. And so, on the divestment side had they done this review prior to divesting the property you know they would have been able to account for that revenue and maybe got a higher purchase price.
On the flip side because it was a white map deal, so this well has gone over to the purchaser essentially for free. And now the purchaser doesn't know that the well is there either because it's not going to be on your well schedule because they didn't have it in their system. And so, again it's who's the acquiring party to also do a revenue recovery process to see what wells are out there that they're not receiving revenue from on their newly acquired assets. But having said that I mean it's a huge undertaking and it's virtually impossible to do manual. You have to have a lot of resources, a lot of focused resources and a lot of time.
You know but, you know kind of the recipe for it is you know you bring in your proprietary land information so your lands, your rights, your dates of ownership. You bring in your government source data like your production dates, your well data. You bring in your accounting information from your actuals. You know was the well even set up in accounting? Does it have revenues booked? And you kind of bring all of these data sets together and from there you have to analyze you know whether or not you do have ownership at some point in time to these producing wells? And so, then you kind of get that list down there and that's when you can provide that list to land professionals who then can research that and really confirm yes, we had proper title to that asset during that time. And yes, we should have been receiving revenue. And then work with accounting to get that realize that revenue in house. You know and this really should be done, it should be done on like I said on you’re A&D processes because it would be a smaller area if you were divesting to do it on a white map area. But company wide, good idea to do it you know annually or quarterly because you know we do have a statute of limitations of two years. Not to say that you wouldn't get your money from more than two years ago, but it certainly may make it difficult. And also, you know in that time companies buy and sell, and so you may not be going to the same company that you who originally was owed you the money. So, it's best to do it in a timely fashion.
DEAN WITH PANDELL Yeah, it's definitely you know you were mentioning kind of the recipe for how you bring that information together and it kind of leads into our next slide that I want to talk a little bit about is reporting. Because as Trish was alluding to you know in the revenue recovery, you're bringing in multiple sources of information. You're bringing land, you're bringing accounting, you're bringing public production information. And that's a common theme in an oil and gas, in a renewable company you're just always combining information from systems to build reports.
And you know I feel it's a real shame to put all the land information you put into a system and not be able to get it out in the format you need. Reports and data are used to make solid business decisions. It's really important. You know the limitations of reporting occur when you put all the information in and you can’t get it out. It's not right.
Typically, the number one complaint I've experienced over my 30 years of land software is lack of reporting. Every system has the capability to run canned reports, which is great. However, it's challenging for a software vendor to create every possible report that a client needs and every possible format that's needed. I believe that in addition to having canned reports in the software, you know we need to put additional reporting tools in the hands of the users. Tools such as simply exporting information into Excel. So, that you know you can create a report in Excel. The challenge with Excel though is that it's great for reporting and analytics but it never should be the source of truth for anything in my opinion.
You know I've experienced companies creating departments just for reporting. You know I found an interesting article the other day and it was published by Deloitte in late 2019. And it stated that finance teams spend approximately 48 percent of their time on average creating and updating reports. And so, I was just in my head I was running some numbers and I say, okay take a company of 10 people. On their 10 people on a finance team. On average maybe $80,000 salary each. That's almost $400k a year just reporting right. And it's a function that they have a lot more important things to do. You know the capabilities of today are you got your canned reports in your software but if you don't have the means to get the report that you need in your own formats, there's a capability of retrieving data directly from the database. The challenge with this, is that you need to understand the structure of the tables and sometimes those tables can be quite cryptic.
TRISH You're absolutely right. You know and software companies are or software can't provide canned reports for everybody because corporate reporting varies between companies. It varies between companies in Canada but then we also have a lot of foreign companies coming in. And I know you've worked for some of them, and that reporting can get very, very complex. You know we had an international client who needed this monthly report sent to their head office overseas. And they needed it in one line. And it's very hard to do in land. You're bringing in multiple data and to get it very linear is very difficult to do. So, we did do it and we had to go in through the back end and you know using the tables and writing scripts and everything, and we were we managed to do it. But on the front end it just couldn't be done.
DEAN WITH PANDELL Yeah, you know I guess one thing I'd like to cover off too is the future of reporting. Where do we see it going? And you know we're definitely seeing an uptick in improvements in reporting over the past few years. That's one area that seems to be changing a fair bit. You look your big three companies out there Microsoft, Amazon, Google they have platforms now cloud platforms that you can consolidate all your data in their cloud services and use their reporting services around the cloud. And an example is like Microsoft Power BI. It allows for easier connections to your data sources, so you don't have to be a developer to do that. You have…it has the smarts to match data sets together, so again you don't have to understand the database in the background. It'll do it for you as best it can. So, it alleviates a lot of the need for that technical knowledge. So, we're seeing a big improvement around reporting there.
Many software vendors right now are using newer technologies to develop better reporting tools for sure. But you know we definitely need to continue to improve the reporting processes. So, that instead of staff spending time creating reports they're spending their time analyzing the reports and using them to make business decisions. But I guess you know until we get a few more years down the road you know land professionals will have to lean on it on good land business analysts to help them customize reports if they're available to them and move on from there. But I think in another you know few years we're gonna see a lot better tools in the industry for you guys.
TRISH Yeah and I think in order to trust any reporting though you need to have good processes. The data needs to be consistent. So, processes are next.
DEAN WITH PANDELL Yeah, it's a really good point. Like you can't produce a good report unless you got a good process around it right. And you know we on the screen here I like this little diagram on the bottom right and what that's called is it's called the swim lane. And I used to use that a lot over the years for helping clients identify, document, and understand their processes. And basically, the orange bar on the left, it's rules. It's by department or by person. And you're just basically using this to understand the process. My theory behind processes is in software is, your software shouldn't dictate the process, rather the software should support the process. It shouldn't dictate it, it should support it.
And you know a quick little story for you on that because we did a lot of these swim lane diagrams to understand the process that was with a client. And now many of you out there in the audience that are you know millennials might not understand this or understand this term, but it's called the green sheet. People my age remember it. Trish you were about two or three at that…
DEAN WITH PANDELL In the 90’s.
TRISH I do remember it.
DEAN WITH PANDELL Oh you do remember it, really? Okay anyways, the green sheet. What that was whenever land had to communicate changes to other departments in a company whether it be financial accounting, production, operations about changes that were typically well based is how the companies want to receive those changes. Land would basically print a well abstract, a lease summary sheet or a sorry a well summary sheet and they would write on it and then photocopy it onto green paper. So, why it was done that way is because it would become kind of the Bible, that the other departments would know that that's land's record. As opposed to just a white summary sheet. And so, you know they would batch up all these green sheets over the course of a period, and typically we'd do it for the course of a week, and then we'd distribute them through inter-office mail you know at the end of the week.
Well, the company I was working with, got you know we're doing about 300 changes a week so it was significant. That was 300 land changes, so a lot more wells. And so, eventually we got backed up on the batching and they created an office. It was called the green sheet office. So, now we're using floor space to store the green sheets before they got sent out right. And so, I think that was kind of the tipping point we said, well we got to do something electronically for these guys. And we built a system to you know a system has logs it knows changes are made in land, so it has logs so you should be able to disseminate it electronically and we did. And it was a very successful project but yeah, the green sheets bring back memories.
TRISH Well you know it's bad when it when paper gets their own corner office, hopefully it wasn't a corner office with a good view. But I think you know to lend more to that what comes to my mind about with processes is like we've got some really good AFE software out there. That handles those processes and land has a lot of other processes that could kind of benefit from that technology, and I think of you know the continuations, expiry process. And you know I recall being at companies where you know they the land person would send out their continuations package and then not know where it is because not know where it is in the process. And go running from office to office to try to find it, to get their approvals, to meet their deadlines. So, I think there's a lot of technology that can help with the processes.
So, the last thing and I know we're kind of running late here because I think Dean and I could probably talk for weeks on end on all of this stuff. We're pretty passionate about it but digitization. This is my favorite because we are reducing our dependency on paper. You know digitization allows land professionals to like create process, retrieve, review, and distribute documents and correspondence in a pretty quick and efficient manner.
DEAN WITH PANDELL Definitely there's good ROI on scanning your land files and digitizing them. You know when you look at the file space that it takes up in file rooms. The effort of going to get the files and take them back. And lost files that happen, maybe someone during the pandemic had them at their house. You know having them digitized and right available in the system and shareable it’s definitely a nice way to go. But the stumbling block or the roadblock kind of to it is the effort to get it done. It's not a small amount of effort but when you look at the effort of physically maintaining those files, I think it's a lot better.
TRISH Yeah and I think the rewards are huge. I mean like one, no one could argue it doesn't free up a land professional's time running from office to office looking for that elusive file. And going to the file room and pulling it out and all of that. You know infrastructure, a lot of companies are actually putting their filing systems off-site out of the downtown core. You know but again a land professional has to order a file up and it takes two days, and you know you've moved on by then to whatever you have to do next. So, it's kind of hard to get back. So, that's time lost.
You know and again the environment, just let let's stop killing trees. And of course, the mobility allowing us to work from home and not having to run into the office. I know a lot of people had to do that they would set a date during the pandemic that they'd run into the office and get their files and run them back home. So, you know really does allow our companies to be proactive and flexible wherever they work.
DEAN WITH PANDELL Yeah so, you know those are kind of the five key areas that we wanted to talk to you about today and just to summarize you know I really do feel like we've come a long way. When you look back 30 years ago, and I know not everyone on the session here is even 30 but, you know we had some rudimentary land databases back then. They were very siloed. There was, no integrations. You couldn't you know get access to tables and do extra reporting around it. The mapping tools. What was the mapping tool? It was a map on the wall right. It was just like your map in your glovy, you had to pull it out and drive with one hand, and block the windshield with the map, and that's how it was. And now we got sophisticated mapping tools. Public data that there wasn't even a thing back then, you couldn't get access to it. And like Trish alluded to earlier, we used the fax.
You know so where are we at today? No question, we definitely have better technology. You know, we have we have integration capabilities, we have good mapping systems, we have better canned reporting, we have third-party reporting tools. We have the technology for electronic communications, distribution, and filing. And you know we just need to get there.
TRISH I mean there's no question we have better technology today than when you and I started. You know like you said integration capabilities, better canned reports, but you know land professionals need more. They need more to accommodate our fast-paced industry. You know we have the technology for electronic communications, distribution, and filing. And while some companies have jumped on board, I'm finding the majority have not.
DEAN WITH PANDELL Yeah, you know where do we need to go? We definitely need to get a little bit more paperless as Trish had alluded to. I think the land systems in general they need to have better mass update capability. When you look at you know over the last eight years since the downturn staffing departments, as I said earlier, got disseminated and it's been tough. And so, systems need to be more efficient, need to be able to pull mass amounts of data into it, update, and load information in. Direct integration with systems, with the government data, and third-party data is always more and more important. Smart contracts, you know like there's so many terms within a contract there's so many different styles of contracts but we're getting to the point now that they've got technology that can you know extrapolate those terms and basically tell you if you're missing revenue, or you should be charging something some a company for something or tracking of expenses properly. You know so I think also consolidation of industry data.
A good example is a vendor code, a company code. Every company has their own vendor code list. Why is that? Petrinex has one company you know table. Why aren't we sharing company information and consolidating data as much as we can? I think at the end day we all need to just embrace and adopt the technology that's out there and available.
TRISH You know I think as land professionals we're in a very interesting time right now. Land traditionally has not been an early adopter of technology, but I think with the new generation of land professionals coming into the industry, and kind of the emergence of the next generation of land software applications I think we're going to see some amazing changes. I think the only limitations are our selves. I think that we need to keep pushing for the change and demand that from our software systems. And I think from our companies as well.
So, with that we have concluded. I'm not sure how much time we have for questions?
ELIZA WITH PANDELL Yeah, we probably could take about five minutes to answer a few questions. Thank you very much for all that information. It's hard to imagine not embracing technology. I mean we all need to save time in our lives.
So, let's start with this one on everyone's mind probably, Will technology put land professionals out of work?
TRISH We get that a lot. I don't think so. I think that what automation can, and technology can provide for land professionals is freeing up their time, so that they can actually do their land work. You know what we're talking about that needs to be eliminated is like the manual data entry functions. That kind of routine things that that really impedes them from doing their jobs. And I think even companies don't want to pay their land professionals to do that kind of minutiae work that they currently is getting in the way of doing their land. Work that could really provide value to the company. You know rather than loading all of the stuff into your data. I think your system you know really needs to work for you don't need to work for your system and so it will free up a lot of time.
ELIZA WITH PANDELL What are the two or three biggest challenges and pain points relating to land management especially for smaller and mid-sized companies with limited resources? And how can technology solve them?
DEAN WITH PANDELL I definitely think that one of the issues, but you know you, kind of already said it is lack of resources right. So, like since 2015, early 2015 land departments were decimated with staffing. And so, you know how can technology assist? Well, it's you know like some of the things I mentioned of you know being able to mass update things. Being able to create reports easier. You know when you look at finance department spending 48 percent of their time and reporting. That's finance that's an example of them, but I can guarantee that land spends a good percentage of time on reporting as well. And so, I think just streamlining that process. So, as Trish said, so that they can reallocate time to more important things.
TRISH Right and I think with smaller companies what I'm finding out there is that the larger companies usually have like a Business Analyst [BA] on staff that can help. Although they're quite bogged down with all their requests because honestly once land finds a way to get something done faster, they're going to hold on to that BA. So, the larger companies have an in-house BA usually. The mid-sized companies and the smaller ones you know they can't afford to have a BA on staff full-time. So, I think that a smaller company is kind of learning where you can get your BA services. And bring people in to help you. And a lot of people don't even know the possibilities. So, you've got some people who they've used a BA in a big company and then they go to a medium or a small company and they know what can be done but they don't have the resources in that company to do it. So, that's where I think it's important to find that you can outsource that as well and still get where you need to be.
ELIZA WITH PANDELL I think that's all we have time for. It was great full hour of really great information. Thank you so much to both of you for taking the time to be part of our leadership series of webinars and thank you to everyone who attended today. Thanks so much Trish and Dean have a wonderful rest of your day.
TRISH Thanks and I just wanted to say thank you to everybody for joining us. And if you have any questions don't hesitate to give Dean or myself a call or an email.
ELIZA WITH PANDELL Thanks so much guys have a good one.
TRISH & DEAN Thanks. Have a good afternoon. Enjoy the rest of your week.