AGA Ops Conference 2018

AGA Ops 2018 Preview: How Software Can Support an Effective Control Room Culture

Control room culture is a big topic of discussion for operators these days. PHMSA put team culture on everyone’s radar when they issued a rule in January 2017 requiring that every controller establish and maintain a team training program.

The topic came back around in January of this year when PHMSA issued FAQs clarifying the rule in hopes of creating a clear understanding of how to achieve compliance and operate safely.

As operators continue to work through the requirements that pertain to their pipeline, I would like to highlight an excellent opportunity to learn more about control room culture at the 2018 AGA Operations Conference on June 25-29 in Washington, D.C.

One of the key breakout sessions will be held on Thursday, June 28 featuring the a thought leader perspective on creating an effective control room culture, including the importance of executive leadership support in the process.

There is plenty to be learned from this session about the mindset not only to adhere to PHMSA requirements, but to improve operations through effective teamwork. EnerSys will be attending the conference and participating in the breakouts. We look forward to hearing more about the various experiences and philosophies from the thought leaders in the room.

In the meantime, I would like to point out how proper control room software can help operators achieve compliance as it relates to the team training requirement.

An Effective Control Room Culture Starts at The Top

For any program to be successful — that is, to add value to operations — the operations leadership team needs processes for team training that relate to the operations reality.

Implementing effective team training is not a set-and-forget process of printing out the rule, posting it around the control room, offering computer based training, having a few initial meetings without follow-up or accountability, and hoping that everyone starts changing behavior. Neither is the implementation of team training as simple as declaring, “Today is the day we change the culture!”

Ultimately, as with any new program in the control room, operators should follow a series of strategic steps to define and implement the required change.

Control room software such as our POEMS (Pipeline Operations Excellence Management System) software and support solution can help manage the change and track compliance.

Have the Right Approach to Culture Change

When EnerSys implements the POEMS software, we include training and education, facilitation, and consultation in the process of software implementation.

If you look at our Approach to the implementation process, I believe there is a parallel process for operators looking to change the culture to improve operations and achieve compliance:

  • Assess: Understand the steps required to implement team training.
  • Implement: Align your Policies & Procedures with PHMSA and update your CRMP.
  • Operate: Ensure that control room personnel are well-trained and they have opportunities to share feedback.
  • Refine: Analyze the lessons learned, document opportunities to improve the culture, and facilitate the refinement process.

As you can see, there are multiple steps required to change the control room culture. Additionally, the process is ongoing through the refinement step of continually reviewing your culture to ensure adherence to the team training requirement.

Consider These Resources to Support Your Culture Shift

EnerSys understands that it can be easy to lose track of your team culture and adherence to PHMSA requirements without proper tools to stay on top of the process.

That’s why we developed POEMS to include a critical support function to go with our software tools. This system ensures that we remain in constant contact with operators to manage the change and assist with your latest challenges.

We also continue to stay on top of regulatory requirements by attending events such as the AGA Operations Conference to gather the latest information that we pour back into our control room software and support system.

If you are planning to attend the AGA Conference, please reach out in advance so that we can expect to see you in-person at our booth. You can email me directly at

Additionally, if you would like to schedule a demo of the POEMS system or further discuss an effective control room culture, please complete our contact form, email our team at, or call us directly at 281-598-7100.