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!