Solving the Skills Issue

Balancing the drive to maximise growth opportunities and increase workforce productivity in a labour market where competition to recruit and retain skilled staff is at an all time high, is an ongoing challenge for oil and gas organisations. 

Collecting data to track competency in the workforce and make strategic decisions about how to allocate resources is vital if they are to succeed. 

Advances in the range of Human Capital Management (HCM) software packages available to companies are helping energy sector firms do this.

Ian Mechie, managing director of Aberdeen-based Absoft - one of the largest and longest-established independent SAP consultancies in the UK and a specialist supplier of the leading business software package designed to help companies enhance their corporate performance - is well aware of the people-related challenges facing the energy industry.

“Oil and gas sector companies are responding to these challenges in a variety of ways – and increasingly are turning to technology to help them deliver more effective Human Capital Management (HCM) strategies,” he said.

The key to success however, according to Mr Mechie, is being able to integrate information about personnel in a single system.

“Companies that expand their global operations through mergers and acquisitions often end up with multiple HCM-related systems, each handling different geographies or functions,” he said.

“Others struggle to gain any benefit from generic solutions that don’t quite meet the complex needs of the oil and gas business and end up using a mixture of spreadsheets and packages to do the job. Either way, a multiple-system set-up makes for significant inefficiencies and seriously impedes an organisation’s ability to maximise the use of its people.

“To compete effectively on a global scale and manage an increasingly dispersed global workforce, organisations can benefit substantially from an integrated, global HCM system, with competency development and management at its core, that allows them to manage and monitor all of their workforce processes, both at a local and central level,” said Mr Mechie.

Many global operators already have integrated HCM systems. These can deliver huge benefits and quickly provide a return on the initial investment in implementation, but they have traditionally been viewed as rigid, complicated and expensive to implement and support by smaller organisations. The good news however is that these solutions are increasingly available in scaled-down, industry-specific versions, making them much more affordable and accessible to small and mid-sized companies.

“The technology is definitely there - in various forms - to support oil and gas companies of all shapes and sizes to establish successful HCM strategies, to help them compete on the global stage,” said Mr Mechie.

“As HR departments continue their transformation from traditional, administrative ‘cost centres’ into high-value business functions, the clear winners will be those that harness technology effectively to meet the needs of their organisations and enable HCM – and particularly competency management - to play an increasingly key role in influencing business strategy.

“It’s a cliché to talk about people being the most important asset of a business, but it’s nonetheless true. Companies that don’t invest in their people, never mind try to capture the extent and value of that investment, are failing themselves.”