Microsoft SharePoint is a popular tool used throughout the oil and gas industry for document storage and management. However, SharePoint is not designed to support the intricate requirements of managing a pipeline control room.
SharePoint is a broad-use tool that requires customization effort. That customization effort can become quite large when supporting the needs of a regulated pipeline control room.
Pipeline operators that utilize SharePoint often run into roadblocks when integrating SharePoint with other tools used in the control room, such as SCADA or Alarm Management. The result can be inefficiencies managing non-integrated tools, higher risk of human error from manual entries, and the continuous need to update software applications.
EnerSys recognizes that many pipeline operators have made a significant investment in SharePoint. However, we are confident that the ideal solution is off-the-shelf software specifically designed for the control room to serve as a records repository and to support all critical areas of control room management.
The Practical Challenge: SharePoint is a Broad-Based Tool
One of the primary challenges of using SharePoint is that it does not have a baseline format that aligns with the documentation and records needs of a control room. Rather, SharePoint offers a large number of tools and functionality which must be implemented. Ultimately, everything must be built from scratch for SharePoint to be a useful tool for control room management purposes.
Utilizing SharePoint typically requires a control room team member with SharePoint expertise or the dedicated support of IT personnel. For many pipeline operators, though, the IT team may not fully understand what the control room is trying to achieve. Or, IT does not have the time and resources to deliver the desired functionality in a timely fashion.
If you are able to clear this hurdle implementing SharePoint from scratch, SharePoint has the ability to connect with other Microsoft products, act as a records repository with version history, and allow owners to limit or restrict document access capabilities. Even so, once a SharePoint tool is built, it requires maintenance (updates and upgrades) which can present additional challenges.
The Challenge of Maintaining SharePoint in the Control Room
Once functionality is established in SharePoint, an upgrade to the latest version may lose some of the customization that was built for purpose during development. Or, if your operation downgrades to a lesser cost license with limited capabilities, you could easily lose important pipeline control room customization.
An additional challenge of upgrading or downgrading to a between versions of SharePoint is that frequent IT Support has to intervene to migrate control room functionality. This situation presents an undesired challenge of needing IT to spring into action supporting any change. Otherwise, there is risk of inefficiency, lost records, and user issues.
You may also lose integration with other tools used for control room management, requiring an additional round of IT support to re-establish integration each time the software changes.
The Solution: Control Room Management Software Suite
Pipeline operators and control room managers need off-the-shelf software built for their specific needs. While SharePoint has its advantages for document management and storage, we recommend that control rooms utilize software that is designed specifically to support control room functionality.
We offer a full software suite, the POEMS Control Room Management (CRM) Suite, that centralizes and organizes all documents, records, and reports required in control room management.
– The software suite is linked to a document library in the POEMS platform. This library is linked to user administration functionality to set read-write privileges and access restrictions for your team.
– Each module in the CRM Suite is linked together to create and organize records that support critical functions such creating electronic logs, Shift Handover, Workload Monitoring, control room audits, Alarm Management, and more.
– The POEMS platform includes a report engine to produce the records your control room needs to satisfy a PHMSA audit or an inspection of your control room.
An additional benefit of using the POEMS CRM Suite is that we handle updates and upgrades as part of our software management plan. No more worrying about updates or upgrades to SharePoint that create compatibility or functionality problems with other tools used in your control room.
When you migrate to the CRM Suite, you will have all the tools at your disposal to manage the control room, reducing Total Cost of Ownership and removing headaches when software needs to be updated.
We encourage you to schedule an educational demo of our CRM Suite. We’ll address why now is the time to advance from SharePoint to a software suite dedicated to control room management. We’ll also show you how the interoperability of the software suite creates additional value for pipeline operators, while helping you recoup costs of investing in SharePoint.