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Change control in challenging verticals: Part II – Oil & Gas

Last post I discussed some change control factors affecting SAP users in the notably challenging vertical market of Media & Entertainment. A second vertical facing a host of interesting challenges is Oil & Gas.

The challenges facing SAP end users in the Oil & Gas vertical relate to managing SAP Application Lifecycle and specifically SAP Change Control automation while maintaining full SOX compliance. These challenges are to be expected in any vertical where companies manage highly complex SAP IT infrastructure, high volumes of change, extensive change control processes or operate in highly regulated industries.  Oil & Gas, as a vertical, certainly fits that description.  

The Oil & Gas Industry is huge and is experiencing a very rapid rate of change.  The entire range of refineries, plants, geological research, retail outlets, office locations, and rack terminal systems, plus new areas including increased diversification into such renewables as wind energy, biofuels and ethanol have driven back end IT support system change to record high levels.  According to IDC, drivers for investment in this industry are replacement of older technology, the desire to reduce IT support costs, and the pace of mergers and acquisitions. 

The search for solutions to these challenges is driven not just by existing regulation, but also by new regulations such as Dodd-Frank in the U.S. and similar regulations in Europe. Governance and audit-ready IT change documentation cannot be treated as fault-tolerant goals when not only market changes, but the regulatory environments of companies, are facing a record-setting pace of change.

You probably already agree that such conditions make proper audit and compliance elements of change control automation and policy enforcement essential.    According to IDC, the most immediate need is reporting and transparency.   Priorities include reduced implementation costs and improved business analytics.  Additionally, Oil & Gas face a driving need to manage an ever larger portfolio of projects.  

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