By Thabo Ndlela, Director at IFS Africa


The world’s oil and gas industry is going through turbulence, due to fluctuating oil prices, new discoveries, and growing demands from operators. Oil and gas companies in Africa that grew with rising energy prices must now operate on low margins, meaning that they need to uncover opportunities to become more efficient.


What’s more, shorter delivery times and increased use of sub-contractors are all adding to the pressure. We are also seeing calls for standardised processes, documentation delivery and project accountability across the supplier and operator value chain.


As a result, many oil and gas companies are reexamining their business assumptions and investing for long-term sustainability. Though there is plenty of waste and mismanagement to address and changes are long overdue, the industry is stepping up to the challenge.


With so many companies in the industry still running their businesses on older enterprise applications, the imperative for IT modernisation has come to the fore. Across the supply chain, organisations are looking to replace legacy systems with applications better suited for the information-intensive nature of the industry.


Companies are also looking to improve efficiencies in asset maintenance and reign in their compliance costs. Information technology systems that provide real-time visibility into projects, maintenance and compliance are key to streamlining operations across the value chain.


Many players in the market are looking towards specialist solutions such as IFS Applications 9 – a suite of project-driven business applications designed for project- and capital-intensive industries such as mining, energy, and oil and gas. The oil and gas sector is one of the industries that IFS prioritises, and our company has made a long and sustained effort to create solutions for this sector’s highly specific needs.


IFS in the oil & gas industry


More than 400 project- and asset-oriented companies are using IFS Applications for enterprise asset management (EAM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and more. Our focus on the oil and gas industry is evidenced by both deep industry expertise and a solid track record. IFS offers flexible, project and asset oriented solutions that manage the total contract, project, asset and service lifecycle.


IFS Applications is the number one enterprise asset management (EAM) solution to the oil and gas industry, according to ARC Advisory Group, and is the solution of choice for EPCI (engineering, procurement, construction and installation) contractors, drilling contractors, oil field machinery and offshore service companies globally.


IFS offers a complete, integrated industry solution that is able to handle the entire life cycle of a project from construction, project management, purchase, logistics and production through to installation and after-market service.


IFS Applications include functions for contract and project handling, risk management, budgeting and prognostic, construction and materials handling, production, document handling and components for service and maintenance. All of this is integrated with economy and HR.


What’s new in IFS Applications 9?


IFS Applications 9, the latest version of the suite, gives our clients true business agility by bringing them closer to their business and by providing them with the flexibility to capitalise on change. This is thanks to innovations in user experience, new features, enhanced configurability, and a new layered application architecture.


Some new features include:


IFS Lobby: A clear and tailored view of the business or situation as it relates to a role or process. IFS Lobby is fully customisable and presents at-a-glance, actionable information relevant to each unique user. This user interface improvement makes IFS Applications 9 easier and faster to use, bringing users closer to their business, no matter whether accessed on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone.


IFS Streams: A notification system designed to keep you close to the pulse of your business by posting relevant updates and actions to processes, relevant to individual users.


Layered application architecture: Specialised extension and customisation layers that streamline and drive cost out of modifications to the application. Technical staff can now spend more time adding value to your business rather than administering customisations.


Enhanced support for global business: New capabilities for group consolidation, improved support for matrix organisations, and a host of other improvements that help global businesses capitalise on their size and reach.


Why IFS Applications 9?


For most oil and gas companies, projects are the cornerstone of their business. Managing projects that are often complex in nature and large in scale is the key to success. The fact that IFS Applications is a real project-driven solution makes it a powerful offering for this sector. Our suite ensures high-level visibility and transparency throughout the enterprise.


Project-based parameters control and determine schedules for engineering, procurement, document delivery, jobsetting and fabrication. IFS ensures an efficient flow of information among the different disciplines. It provides full flexibility for projects of all sizes and degrees of complexity, and templates can be made for all different types of projects.


Some other ways IFS Applications empower oil and gas companies are as follows:


Integration of engineering, purchasing and fabrication with other disciplines: IFS Applications 9 includes a central repository, or register, for multi-discipline engineering data, shared throughout the enterprise, ensuring efficient and error-free data handovers from engineering to purchasing, fabrication to installation and—in the event of last-minute design changes—from engineering to installation.


Asset management and mobility: As the asset system on record, IFS Applications eases the transition to operations, with asset design and equipment data available from the start. The maintenance function manages design changes throughout the asset’s productive life.


Our solution combines calendar-based maintenance with event-based, condition-based and predictive maintenance strategies. Integration with global positioning (GPS) mobility solutions—including IFS Touch Apps—keeps all parties in synch, based on IFS’ mobile workforce scheduling and optimisation solution.


Complete material traceability: IFS Applications supports full traceability of material transactions and complete equipment documentation—from “as-designed” to “as-installed.” Regardless of where a piece of equipment, system or component is used, it can always be traced back to the relevant requisition, purchase or shop order; project, supplier or stock number; and receipt or certificate.


Integrated document management: IFS Applications includes a mature and advanced document management system that gives contractors, suppliers and service companies efficient document flows, a crucial element for improved productivity.


Coordination, collaboration and sub-contracting: With multiple contractors and service vendors working together on major projects, complex coordination is required in today’s oil and gas fields. Joint ventures, outsourcing and sub-contracts all strain managers’ ability to stay on top of projects. IFS Applications helps overcome these challenges with solutions that include sub-contract management and web-based collaboration portals.