January 27, 2022
EarthSoft Interview with Pramod Neelappa
Pramod Neelappa is the bp Remediation Management (RM) Digital Transformation Manager and Cyber Ambassador. He has over 22 years’ experience implementing software solutions, has performed application delivery, and service management roles. For bp RM, he has been leading EQuIS implementation since 2014.
[EarthSoft] What drove you to implement a centralized environmental data management system (EDMS)? What was the situational analysis or problems you were trying to solve?
[Pramod] The primary drivers were data centralization, mitigation of information security risks, data loss due to supplier transition, and accessibility to our data. For decades, our data was in the hands of our suppliers; although there was a process to ensure supplier-hosted data was secure, there was no easy way to access it.
In 2014, concerns over information security and data loss ultimately drove us to take control of our own data. Once the cloud transformation took over in the industry, data was beginning to be viewed as an asset, and we were left asking ourselves, “where is our data?” Our data was spread across our suppliers, and although it was safe, we couldn’t access it or do any data science activities. We could not leverage the latest tools and technologies that come with machine learning and apply it to our data.
Our first step was to centralize data on the bp system, offer data to suppliers and data consumers from a single source, and then initiate data science activities for insights into the business. This is what prompted us to look at EQuIS for the purposes of data centralization, security, and the ability to leverage our data as an asset.
[EarthSoft] How did you choose the solution? Was it functional requirements, market research, reference from others? Can you describe the process?
[Pramod] Back in 2013, we began looking for a replacement to our existing environmental data management software. The process required a procurement assessment which evaluated software based on functional requirements, market research, and referrals. Ultimately EQuIS was selected because we determined that it would meet our growing requirements, scale and goals for the future.
[EarthSoft] Why did you ultimately select EQuIS?
[Pramod] The five main factors in selecting EQuIS were:
- Product support for wide variety of environmental data sets….soil, groundwater, marine…
- Specialized modules catering to the needs of stakeholders…labs, Field, PMs etc.
- Upfront data quality checks and data integrity rules enforcement.
- Flexible global deploy on Azure…meeting performance and language/culture needs.
- EarthSoft’s partnership approach to meet bp’s requirements.
Depending on the nature of work at a site, different data sets are generated from soil, groundwater, soil gas, etc., and EQuIS offered the schema and ready taxonomy to accommodate most of the data sets. The different modules within EQuIS ensured the specific needs of stakeholders like Lab Admins, PMs, Field Crew were satisfied. The upfront data integrity checks and balances ensured high quality. The flexibility to deploying EQuIS at local Azure data centers globally ensured optimum performance and support for language and culture settings. The EQuIS global support, availability of product engineers to partner on EQuIS configuration, and rollout was key.
[EarthSoft] Describe your environmental data management program(s), such as the number of environmental programs, geographical coverage, number of users, number of sites, and others.
[Pramod] EQuIS implementation at bp is global with three separate instances; one for western, central, and eastern hemisphere. There were certain factors that drove us to set up three EQuIS environments, such as; performance, culture settings, and languages. When EarthSoft moved EQuIS hosting on to Microsoft Azure, we took advantage of hosting at the nearest data center of that region to improve performance.
Currently bp RM has more than 700 users that includes the Lab Admins, PMs, Field Crew and super users.
[EarthSoft] Can you provide either quantitative or qualitative improvements in your environmental data management processes post implementation? Gains in quality, efficiency, process, and others?
[Pramod] Using EQuIS has enabled bp RM to make improvements and gains in terms of quality and efficiencies of our environmental data management processes. Below are a few examples:
- A 2019 study of our EQuIS implementation in just one country we operate concluded that we save $350,000 annually.
- More recently we studied implementing EQuIS Collect for field data collection. Using EQuIS Collect has reduced the number of days Field Crew spend on Field collecting data thus improving safety. Additionally, a lot of manual effort previously went in to transcribing the data, and that is now automated with EQuIS Collect. A huge number of hours has been saved, and efficiency gained across the board as we centralized and used it.
In our business, we periodically change environmental suppliers. Transitioning from one supplier to a new supplier often incurs costs associated with managing the data previously held by the out going supplier and handing off to the new supplier. However, by centralizing the data in EQuIS, the transition between suppliers has become so easy. Now all we do is remove access from one supplier and give it to another. We own the data, so there is no transfer of data, and information is secure and centralized.
[EarthSoft] Any lessons learned that you want to share?
- EQuIS license model: It is complex and based on many factors like storage, number of users, concurrency, data centers, etc. It’s important that minimum license configuration is chosen, and later scaled, depending on the usage/data size, etc.
- Onboarding historical data: There was a lot of effort spent trying to fill the gaps in the data. Upfront, you want to decide how much historical data you want to bring in to EQuIS. You want to decide how far you want to go back, because the farther back you go, the more effort is required. There will be gaps in field and lab data, and it takes a lot of effort to link the data together in EQuIS.
- Structured vs. Unstructured data: Historically, data was captured in Word documents, Excel, etc., in an unstructured format. You don’t want to spend too much time bringing unstructured data into EQuIS unless you plan to use it for a reporting analysis purpose. If the purpose of that unstructured data is only for reference, you should probably put it in storage, and use it when you need it. Up front, decide your scope clearly, and base it on the business value it brings. Otherwise, you’ll be spending a lot of effort bringing data into EQuIS that may never get used.