Scott Walsh, C-Suite Energy Executive Awards CIO of the Year

Enerplus Corp. refocused its entire IT infrastructure, and the results are showing on the company’s bottom line

Scott Walsh, Enerplus Corp. as vice-president of information services
Photograph Daniel Wood

Call it a re-evaluation. In the two-and-a-half years since Scott Walsh joined Enerplus Corp. as vice-president of information services, the company has refocused and harmonized its information systems.

The result has been a dramatic reduction in the total number of computer applications Enerplus runs on a daily basis – from 600 down to 400 programs. As a result, the overall cost of the company’s information systems has dropped by 18 per cent. All the while, Walsh says, “Service levels have increased significantly.”

Under the previous system, Enerplus’s various departments would use their own applications for tracking and analyzing data from the company’s operations. Take for example the company’s well and facility asset management systems. Before the IT overhaul, Walsh says that “Each department would have had it’s own data and when we collectively reported it for regulatory, insurance or operations purposes, we always had different data sets, so the data didn’t align.” That’s no longer the case. Walsh moved to harmonize Enerplus’s systems to arrive at what he describes as a “single source of truth.”

Now, everybody in the company is working from the same programs and with the same data, which has made regulatory reporting much easier. Spurred on by the success of that implementation, Walsh and his team have also harmonized the company’s geospatial, geotechnical and data delivery systems, which have allowed Enerplus to “get closer to the drill bit.” Indeed, the success of Walsh’s IT overhaul has had an impact on the company’s drilling strategy.

The company rolled out EnerView, a web-based mapping and analysis tool that displays information on the company’s wells, facilities and pipelines alongside public information on surrounding land, neighbors, roads and waterways. “Now we can look at public data, partner data and Enerplus data and triangulate those data sets to allow us to have better success at our drilling and operations,” Walsh says.

He says the entire reason for the IT overhaul was to assist Enerplus in its ongoing transformation from an energy trust to a true exploration and production company. And part of the success of the company’s information systems overhaul, Walsh says, is that each new project is championed by a vice-president from another department who is ultimately responsible for its success. For example, the implementation of new well completion software is championed by a vice-president from the company’s operations team. New accounting software is championed by the company’s vice-president of finance.

The cumulative impact of these new systems on Enerplus’s business led to Walsh being named the winner of the C-Suite Energy Executive Award for Chief Information Officer of the year. However, his contributions as an information systems executive extend well beyond Enerplus. Walsh is also a member of the SAIT Information and Communication Technologies Dean’s Advisory Council, a governing body member of the Calgary CIO Summit and the Technology Risk Executive Board of Canada. Walsh says that his membership in each of these organizations keeps him sharp, and keeps him focused on fine-tuning IT infrastructure at Enerplus.

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