OPINION: Industry rethink needed on job cuts

Julian Keating

The oil and gas industry can be doing significantly more when it comes to investment in technology and, in turn, protecting jobs in the new year.

As a financial systems supplier to the oil and gas industry over the past 3 years it has become clear to me that companies definitely need to be doing more to improve their back office efficiency.

On so many occasions I have seen companies making unnecessary cuts to their workforce due to neglecting the potential of electronic systems that could improve their overall efficiency.

Projects and capital expenditure are often so vast that I think many see the IT budget as insignificant and therefore it falls down the priority list.

Printing of PDF invoices and typing them into a spreadsheet or finance system should be a thing of the past, yet so many companies within oil and gas are still doing it.

The industry is built on the forefront of knowledge and understanding of downhole technology but the back office of its operations is so often left lagging behind with a lack of calibre in machinery and systems.

A change of target market for nSYS, from previously being heavily committed to oil and gas customers, saw us secure in excess of £500,000 in new contracts over a 12 month period in 2017.

We were able to unearth several new markets for our services as a result of having to adapt in the face of the oil and gas downturn.

How have we managed to produce success under such challenging circumstances?

Our business is not focused on a single sector; a problem some companies in the North East are facing.

Being based in Aberdeen, it was natural for us to focus on financial software in the oil and gas sector, which has been successful for us over the years in gaining incredibly valuable clients.

Refocusing on P2P Automation and e-transaction services was the first step. However, interesting the oil industry in investing in new technology for P2P has been an uphill struggle in this climate.

By diversifying our market nation-wide, we have refilled our pipeline.

The oil and gas industry can learn a lot from other industries. Manufacturing, distribution and rental companies seem to be recognising the savings that can be made through investment in e-commerce.If they want to remain competitive in this day and age they know they have to be trading electronically.

Led by Government initiatives and commercial pressure, e-commerce systems within the supply chain are here to stay.

The UK is often ahead of the crowd when it comes to embracing technological advancements but many in the oil and gas industry seem to be bucking this trend.

So much effort has gone in to shedding manpower which has understandably impacted on efficiency.

Investment in technology will produce larger savings than by cutting the workforce and overall efficiency will be increased.

Julian Keating is the Managing Director of nSYS, the Aberdeen-based Purchase-to Pay and e-invoicing specialists.

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