Thursday, March 19, 2015

Landmen Leading by Leveraging Social Media

by Michele Day

In today’s, fast paced technological world, it is not enough for Landmen to have in-depth knowledge of contracts, oil and
gas, engineering, geology, hydrology, mining, land use, and information retrieval, just to name a few of the numerous tasks of the everyday landman. To gain an edge in the industry, landmen need to stay up-to-date on networking which will leverage them in their field and to stay connected. Companies would rather hire someone they know or are familiar with rather than someone they have no previous knowledge. This report shows practical ways to gain new contacts and maintain contacts needed to succeed in your field. Our goal for landmen is to succeed in all areas needed to be a leader.

Networking today is not the same as it was 10, 20 or even 30 years ago. People used to stay connected by picking up the phone and having a half hour conversation or by attending a show to meet the right connections. Although, these are still valid practices when necessary, people rarely have time for long conversations or many times, a person is long forgotten after even an in-depth conversation at a NAPE show. People are meeting so many people, it is important to stay memorable and easily accessible. A landman’s name, strengths, and successes can stay forefront to companies and individuals by utilizing technology and social media.

Many times social media is not utilized due to a resistant to change. Throughout generations, communication with family, friends, and business contacts has evolved. Prior to the invention of the telephone, it was mail delivered by horseback, and the telegraph was used to communicate important messages across the country. We have since moved from the rotary phone to one with push buttons, then the wonderful invention of the cordless phone. Later, only a few business people had mobile phones when they first surfaced and later the cell phones became the rage with a sleek design. Today, nearly everyone including my 5-year neighbor has a cell phone.

Technology continues to rapidly change with a variety of social media platforms. To some people, social media appears to be merely a “fad”, and the question rises as to “why participate if it may fade away”. It is better to take advantage of connecting with other landmen and people in the industry instead of ignoring latest social media forms which helps to build business recognition for future jobs and important plays in the oil industry. Each form of social communication continues to evolve to various platforms and the benefits have statistically shown to outweigh the negatives.

It is not too late for any landman to learn how to utilize social media to their advantage. Following are some of the top social media sites, according to “”:
  1. Facebook with an estimate of 900 million visitors a month.
  2. Twitter with an estimate of 310 million visitors a month.
  3. LinkedIn with an estimate of 255 million visitors a month.
  4. Pinterest with an estimate of 250 million visitors a month.
  5. GooglePlus+ with an estimate of 120 million visitors a month.
  6. Tumblr with an estimated 110 million visitors a month.
  7. Instagram with an estimated 100 million visitors a month.

If a landman is new to social media or even if a landman has been involved in social networking for a while, it is advantageous to post pertinent information that will give a superior business image and give the credibility as being a leader in the field.
  • Network – Aside from gaining experience, networking will be the greatest ally in getting started as a landman. Making contacts can be difficult, especially if you don’t know anyone in the industry. It is important that you use everyone you can as a resource. Often times using the “friend of a friend” strategy is very effective in making contacts. Landmen themselves are excellent networkers, so it is no surprise that to become one you need to start networking even before you get the job. Keep in mind that companies would much rather hire someone they are familiar with as opposed to a stranger.
  • Join industry organizations – Joining industry organizations like the AAPL are a great way to stay connected in the landman industry. In addition to the AAPL, regional and local organizations exist. These organizations are a great way to start networking, and can often be joined by all types of land professional.

  • Get AAPL certified – In addition to being a great, all-around landman resource, the AAPL is the official certifying entity for the landman industry. Some states are now requiring landmen to become certified in order practice. In any case, becoming certified is a must in furthering your career as an oil and gas landman. There are several levels of certification and a serious landman strives for the highest level of certification possible for a successful career.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Countdown to NAPE - Is Your Billing System Costing You Money?

Countdown to NAPE Summit

Delivering More for Less:  Increased Efficiency = Increased Competitiveness

Bill Justice - President/Founder
TotaLand Technologies
This series is geared toward land brokerages.  It is designed to help them realize how they can differentiate themselves and therefore be more competitive by utilizing technology solutions already available to them.  Obviously, if you are engaged in the hiring of brokerages, this information will be helpful to you as well.  A more efficient brokerage can deliver more for less, and everybody wins.

Part 1 of 5 – Broker and Client Billing
Part 2 of 5 – Title Management
Part 3 of 5 - Field Acquisition
Part 4 of 5 – Asset Tracking
Part 5 of 5 –The Status Quo is too Expensive

Broker and Client Billing
The “Build or Buy” question is one that most brokerages face early on, especially in regard to broker billing.  It is very tempting to attempt to build a system in-house—and with good reason.  It appears to be very simple, and as land solutions go, it is one of the simplest problem to tackle.  However, “simple” is not always synonymous with “easy”.

Let’s look at methods for processing broker and client billing:

Paper only is still a possibility, but certainly not conducive to increased efficiency.  The process itself may make sense if the invoice is small, but paper only systems offer no ability to search for data electronically—ever.  In today’s world, there is simply no place for such an archaic system.

Spreadsheets and email comprise many a billing system.  The benefits are many, such as standardization, spreadsheet functions to multiply and add quickly and accurately, the ability to copy and paste data into master spreadsheets, and the ability to sort and filter data.  All of these are valuable benefits, but they do not eliminate all of the undesired manual work that is still required.  Someone must still handle the email attachments by saving them to a specified location, review the spreadsheets, then compile into another spreadsheet or accounting system via copying and pasting.  The entire process is somewhat sloppy as there is much room for error and much time still required.  Since time is money, this method is ultimately on the costly side, due primarily to the labor involved.  Even with significant attention paid to standardization and controls, as well as sophisticated automation, there is an ultimate limit to the efficiency—one which can only be addressed by going to the next level. 

Web-based systems offer numerous advantages over the spreadsheet and email method.  Primarily, they can offer a degree of real-time control simply not possible with a spreadsheet.  For example, having a user select from projects (or AFE’s, or billing categories, or any number of things) he/she is authorized to select is far superior to allow the user to enter the project name himself/herself.
As an overview, a web-based system resides on a web server somewhere and is connected to a central database.  The database is not only where data is stored, it is the ‘brain’ of the system, and can therefore determine what respective users see when logged on to the website.  This allows for considerably more control, from setting day rates, authority levels, project access and the like to turning a user off altogether--immediately.  There is nothing like the real-time control of a web-based system.

The control afforded by a web-based system is a significant advantage, but not the only one.  Consider how data must be compiled when it is received as a spreadsheet or paper invoice.  While there are clever ways to automate the process as much as possible, it is still largely a manual process and highly dependent on human review or “error checking”.  This process is slow, prone to errors and therefore expensive.  With a web-based system, error-checking is done during data entry, greatly minimizing the need for data cleanup.  Of course, if a user simply enters an incorrect amount or selects the wrong project or AFE, there is not much that can be done about that, at least not from an error checking standpoint.  Web-based systems also make it very easy for the user to attach images, generally receipts, to the specific billing item.

Also consider that the data and images are already compiled and ready to be processed, because all of the data and images are already on the same server.  No need for spreadsheets and emails.  With a well-designed system, an authorized user can either stop there, export the data and import into an accounting system, or go on the create the actual client invoices as a feature of the application.  Finally, a web-based system should allow a brokerage to bill its client through the system, allow the client to receive, inspect and approve the invoice all without the need to print or mail anything.
We at TotaLand have seen dramatic improvements in the lives of our clients, reducing billing turnaround, accuracy and, of course, costs—dramatically.  How much is that worth to any organization, particularly one trying to remain competitive in a difficult environment?  If your organization is not utilizing such technology, come visit us at booth 2552 next week at NAPE Summit, or give us a call at 800-465-5877.

Finally, web-based systems as a rule do not require software to be installed on the user's computer, and provide hardware redundancy (for maximum uptime) and data redundancy (multiple backups spread across multiple locations).  Referring back to the build or buy question, this is simply too costly for almost all individual brokerages to do economically.

Most importantly, now is the time to implement a quality, web-based billing system.  When things get busy again (and they will), the golden opportunity to become more efficient will have passed.

As we approach NAPE next week, we will be posting more articles about how brokerages can become more efficient, and therefore more competitive.  See you at NAPE!

Monday, June 24, 2013

LAPL's June Safety Meeting a Rousing Success

We at TotaLand had the pleasure of sponsoring the LAPL's most recent safety meeting last week and were thrilled with the turnout.  Over 50 people attended the shindig featuring door prizes, live music and, of course, the open bar.

Here's the link to the event photos.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

BLINK Technology: A new way to visualize data

As projects grow, it becomes increasingly important to properly leverage your data to make informed decisions.  The only problem is, an increased pool of data becomes more difficult to sift through.  In order to make our system even better we have developed and integrated patented BLINK technology into the TotaLand system.

BLINK technology offers an advanced (yet simple) way of quickly organizing large data sets in terms of relevance and priority. The chart appears as an asymmetrical grid with each box representing a project item with larger items being more relevant.  These boxes are also color coded based on level of priority.

This tool provides a quick solution to managing large data sets.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fools

Don't worry, you're not about to have some groan-inducing prank pulled on you, though if you're like me, you've probably already had at least three people attempt to do so today. That being said, I've seen some noteworthy online pranks this year, and I've decided to list my top five.  There is no scientific method used to rank these gags, and I am certain that there are better ones out there that I may have missed.  Feel free to post any other April Fools pranks in the comments below.

And top 5 pranks of 2013

5)  Virgin Atlantic's glass-bottomed plane

Ok, so when I saw this I actually thought it was a really cool idea.  Forget the hoards of nervous flyers that would never set foot in this thing...

I will admit that it took me a couple of minutes to realize what day it was.  You can find the story here.

4)   Twitter starts charging for vowels

Today Twitter announced on its blog that they would start charging customers $5 a month in order to use vowels.  From the blog:

"Starting today, we are shifting to a two-tiered service: Everyone can use our basic service, Twttr, but you only get consonants. For five dollars a month, you can use our premium “Twitter” service which also includes vowels.

We’re doing this because we believe that by eliminating vowels, we’ll encourage a more efficient and “dense” form of communication. We also see an opportunity to diversify our revenue stream. Here’s our mockup of the most retweeted Tweet of all time as it would appear in the new Twttr"

3)  Google Nose

Google announced that users will now be able to search for scents online.  I cannot be thankful enough that this one is a prank...

2)  Google Treasure Maps

Google always seems to have too much fun with this.  Click here and try the treasure hunt mode to start searching for gold.

1)  YouTube was one massive video contest

YouTube announced today that the video service has been nothing more than one massive video contest, and now that they have received enough videos to finally shut down and begin reviewing the videos to choose a winner.  At least there won't be anymore Annoying Orange videos...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Realm-based versus tract-based systems

As time goes on, and the land industry evolves, you will see many companies adopting systems to manage their land-acquisition projects.  When making this decision, it is important to make the distinction between realm-based and tract-based systems in order to save yourself time, money and a lot of headache.

First, let's discuss tract-based systems.  A tract-based system is one that bases its data entry guessed it...tracts of land.  You create the tract and then enter information relating to that tract like contracts and parties.  This may work for some, but there are some inherent problems that come with this.

As most landmen know, a contract and a mineral owner (party) can be associated with multiple tracts of land.  If Mrs. Jane Smith owns four tracts of land in your project area, this means that the contract and party information must be recreated for each of the four tracts in the system.  Needless to say, the amount of time lost due to repetitive data entry can add up quickly.

Now let's talk about a realm-based system.  A realm-based system is a system that is not hierarchical in nature in that all "realms" are entered independently.  A realm is defined as a tract, party, contract, unit, well, or instrument.  So what this means is that an item can be created in any one of these realms independently, then attached to the other realms as appropriate.

To make this a bit clearer, let's look at the Jane Smith example again.  Mrs. Smith has mineral interest in four tracts of land, so how do we manage this in the system?  You can create the four tracts, and then create the party profile for Mrs. Smith, then the contract information.  Once this is done, simply click the attach button on the appropriate tract, and voila, everything is where it should be.  Every item was entered only one time.

When making your choice for a land-management system, be sure to keep these things in mind.  An efficiently managed project is an effectively managed project.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cross-platform capability and what it means to you

We recently announced our development and adoption of responsive technology for the TotaLand system, but what does that mean to you?  Basically, it means that our system "responds" by figuring out the viewing dimensions of whatever device the user is using to access the TotaLand system.  Not only does it adapt to the dimensions of the screen, but it arranges the buttons for optimal performance.

This was an important update for the landman on the go.  Forget about zooming in and out while looking for buttons and links; TotaLand will now consolidate everything into one easy-to-use format.  Stay tuned for more updates, and don't forget to subscribe!