Abstract

This paper discusses the setting up of a Quality User Support system, and the provision of high quality software to the Petroleum Engineering community.

Using our experience in reservoir simulation software as a case history, we review possible problem areas and recommend ways of avoiding them. In particular we investigate techniques and methods to:

  • maximise the quality of released software

  • train and educate new users in how to make best use of the software

  • answer ad-hoc questions on the use and functionality of the software

  • minimise response time to identify and fix coding errors

  • enhance client liaison.

We detail some of the procedures that we have developed over the last ten years, which include:

  • strict programming standards and adherence checking

  • change-control procedures for all software updates

  • providing advice based on experience for system configuration

  • logging and tracking of all user requests and problems

  • regularly polling users about the perceived level of support.

  • providing feedback to the development team for improved ease of use and functionality

Finally, we look to the future and predict ways to improve the level and quality of user support.

Introduction

Petroleum Engineering software products are often highly complex packages, with a wide variety of functions. End users must have faith in the software tool itself, be able to find out how the tool is modelling their input, and have access to advice on how to apply and use the product. The more complex the package however, the more chance there is of user errors, programming errors or mis-application providing an erroneous result. Thus software vendors must ensure that they provide end users with an efficient, reliable tool, with which they are able, through adequate training to effectively do their job.

To achieve this end, software providers need to maximise the quality of the released software, whilst providing suitably tailored training to educate users in the application of the software. Vendors should also provide users with access to application experts (engineers who can fully understand and appreciate user problems), and where required, access to the software developers themselves.

Through identification of these requirements, and the development and enhancement of standards and services, we have evolved a user support system that places a strong emphasis on the end user. The software standards ensure that the programs delivered to clients are of the highest possible quality.

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