Data Transparency and Accessibility in Midstream Accounting Software

Data Transparency in Midstream Accounting

Series Part 1: 7 Reasons to Replace Your Legacy Midstream Accounting Software

In the world of accounting, precision and transparency are everything. That can be a problem for users of legacy accounting software, leading to a lack of confidence in your results. Did you set everything up accurately, so that the system created the correct results? Are you able to review your results in a way that provides visibility to how things were done? Your software tools should simplify your life, not make it harder.

In our 7 Reasons to Replace Your Legacy Midstream Accounting Software blog series, we will explore the challenges midstream accounting professionals face with legacy systems. First, let’s cover the challenge of data transparency and how your system should deliver enhanced visibility and accountability.

The Midstream Accounting software ‘black box’

Many software packages present accountants with a black box, with limited visibility into how calculations and allocations are done, or generally how results are created. Those same systems are typically built on older technology, which can be limiting in calculation and allocation options, or simply require off system processing in tools like Excel. It can be easy to put a new look and feel on old software,however if the underlying data architecture and technology doesn’t change, it’s still impossible to show how the system performs critical calculations. 

Another big problem with all of this is that users of some accounting systems don’t trust the results generated by the software.  We’ve seen clients perform calculations in Excel each month to augment and validate their own accounting software. This creates more work for users, which places an unnecessary burden on staff, introduces risk, and adds significant costs in time and resources for midstream companies.

Be confident with your calculations

W Energy offers enhanced insights into your accounting data and results through user-friendly reporting, configurable grid views that can be easily exported, and audit trails. A favorite feature of our software is Calculation Trace—our proprietary algorithm that shows every step and variable of how a calculation happened.

Want to see how a value of ethane was calculated, including percent of proceed percentages based on tiered GPMs and the greater of two index prices?  No problem. Want to see how we calculated a treating fee which takes five cents per CO2 mol % in excess of the tolerance and then escalates it on CPI with a max of 3% annually? That’s easy for us. Our Calculation Trace feature brings complete transparency and accountability to our system calculations.  Users and auditors can easily trace back results from values posted to the general ledger through every preceding stage and calculation.

Understand the impact of your changes

Another popular feature is our Association Graph.  This allows users to see where an object is used elsewhere in the system at that moment.  Want to see if a Meter is tied to a Contract, exists in an allocation group, or has volumes or analyses?  What about which contracts a residue price is tied to before you make changes to it? Maybe you want to see which rates use a specified escalation?  Or which contracts use a certain formula? Each of these questions can be quickly answered with our association graph. Knowing what you’re changing, and potential impacts, can prevent prior period adjustments, ensure proper setups, and give you confidence in your results.

Reliance on manual workarounds and wondering how calculations are made should be a relic of the past. Accounting software should be providing today’s professionals with complete confidence in their data.  Now that’s what you should expect from your midstream accounting software.

Improving user experience

Building intuitive, user-friendly, and good-looking software is an art and a science.  Software was pretty basic in the 80’s with simple text and monochrome displays and evolved in the 90’s to user interfaces designed for 15” CRT monitors.  In the last decade, the cloud, mobile devices, and software-as-a-service revolutionized how developers build software. However, when it comes to legacy accounting software, much of the technology, the look, and the features are stuck in the 90’s.

Look and feel

Legacy accounting software doesn’t just look old, it feels old.  We’ve heard accountants complain about antiquated prompt screens and horror stories of accounting users having to rely on their IT department just to find data or download results.  Time is money, and any time a user must wait costs their company money—especially when it involves multiple departments. Access to the software can also be a pain because legacy solutions were built in the era of on-premise software. With remote or hybrid workplaces, going into the office because your software isn’t accessible from home should be a thing of the past.

It’s also the clunky nature of the user interface that really makes it difficult for energy professionals to get their job done. For software that was designed to fit on a small screen 30 years ago, some solutions look really bad on today’s wide-screen monitors.  Some other software companies have tried to slap on a new interface, but without changing the underlying architecture, they’re still unable to help the user understand the calculations or the impact of setup changes. Even then, it can be very costly to upgrade to a newer version of your accounting software if you don’t have the right partner.

In contrast, W Energy’s accounting solution is built from the ground up on modern technology by developers using the latest user experience (UX) best practices.  Our grids make data easily accessible by allowing users to easily filter their data to what they want to see. And you don’t need to be a SQL expert or know the database tables—simply click download to Excel or CSV from our screens to access your data.  Our screens are intuitive, flexible, and fast. That’s why users can get up and running with our software fast with minimal training.

Upcoming topics to our Midstream Accounting series will include: improving user experience, benefits of a unified platform built on the cloud, making upgrades easy, replacing software with a complete solution, ensuring compliance, and accelerating processing speed. 

Ready to learn more? Let’s talk.

Subscribe to Our Insights

Be the first to access blogs, case studies, videos, and more from our experts.