A Method for Selecting Oil and Gas Economic Software for Microcomputer Systems (includes associated papers 15341 and 15679 )
- W.W. Eckles Jr. (Eckles Enterprises) | E.L. Pierson (Swanson Callahan and Co.) | R.E. Trekell (Corporate Energy Services)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 1986
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 189 - 196
- 1986. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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Summary. The broad range of oil and gas economic software products for microcomputers in today's market creates uncertainty and concern for users. There are multitudes of pricing structures aimed at just as many user types. This paper offers a possible solution to the dilemma of evaluating and selecting economic oil and gas software. The approach is to classify the user and define his requirements; to catalog the major software features, organization, cost, and hardware requirements; and to match the user and the software. Procedures and charts are provided to aid in the selection process. Certain microcomputer and software terms are defined in Appendix A; Appendix B provides a form for determining the user's software requirements.
This paper is not an introduction to economics or microcomputers. Other papers cover these subjects very well. We assume that the reader has made the decision to purchase economic software for a microcomputer, has a microcomputer or is considering the purchase of one, is knowledgeable in oil and gas economics, and has a knowledge of his requirements.
The procedures and charts presented are based on our experience in economics, knowledge of programs available for microcomputers, and knowledge of microcomputer systems. The first law of program selection will be obeyed:select software that will meet job requirements, then consider hardware.
A six-dimensional matrix is used to present the matching process. The six dimensions considered are (1) class of user, (2) user requirements,(3) major software requirements, (4) software organization, (5) hardware requirements, and (6) true cost.
Class of User. It is essential that the user specify how he is going to use the economic program. This will guide the software vendor in responding to inquiries. The basic classes of users are shown in Appendix B, Part 1.
User Requirements. Closely related to class of user is the complexity of calculations required. The three basic mileposts in complexity and program cost are, in increasing order: pre-FIT (Federal Income Tax) only, pre-and post-FIT, and book value.
Major Software Requirements. Technical Features. The user must carefully detail his desires and requirements for product scheduling, pricing, expense, tax liability, investment analysis, and ownership features. This is the most time-consuming, difficult, and important part of the selection process. The user must communicate clearly to the software vendor the importance of each feature he has listed. By doing so, the need for a particular feature can be weighed against the program cost.
A large group of commercial programs were analyzed to obtain a relation between technical features and cost. The results were generalized into three broad price ranges. Appendix B, Part 2 displays technical feature vs. price range. A procedure for using this chart in selecting software will be covered in later sections.
Report Effectiveness. Required report effectiveness must be evaluated by reviewing material supplied by the vendor or, preferably, by running the user's applications with the program. Appendix B, Part 3 shows basic elements that govern report effectiveness vs. cost.
User Friendliness. User friendliness is an overused term by the trade press and software vendors that can be quantified for an economic program. Appendix B, Part 4 lists features that increase the ease of data preparation and entry, editing, controlling calculations, and selecting output reports for both the novice and experienced user.
Documentation. Clarity, readability, accuracy, and quality of manuals are the goals of all good software packages. Quality is not always governed by cost. Very costly software can be difficult to understand or can have incomplete documentation. The only satisfactory way to judge documentation is to use it to test selected software. Some fundamental requirements for good documentation are described in Appendix B, Part 5. This part should be completed for each program evaluated.
Software Organization. The selection of program organization will depend on personal preference and working environment. The most frequently offered arrangements are described in Appendix B, Part 6.
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