Entering the Computer Age
There are many office suites on the market today. Even those who are less computer savvy have heard of tools like Microsoft Office, which are designed to help users organize their data. Aware that some industries have more specialized needs, however, a few companies have begun producing water well drilling-related computer programs, and some drilling contractors have found implementing them incredibly beneficial.
Maurer & Parks Well Drilling, Lansing, Mich., has converted its paper-based processes to computer-automated procedures and utilizes WellMagic, an industry-specific program that offers a range of capabilities. The company did not own a computer prior to a year and a half ago. Since then, well logs no longer are hand-written, but typed and stored electronically; accounting practices from estimates to invoices are handled on the computer as well. There's a notable difference, says Roger Coulter, the Maurer & Parks employee who manages the computer end of things: “We don't have to handwrite well logs. That's a big thing - to have them all typed up. Eventually, we'll be able to transfer our well logs over the Internet right to the state without mailing them.”
When asked what the system offers the company, he explains: “You can do your billing and everything right off the computer, and it just keeps track of everything for you. It will do your bookkeeping. It does accounts aging. You can do the reports, like how many invoices you've sent out so far this year. If you want to do your service work, you even can put that in. You can change the pricing schedule really easily on it. You can override the quoted price and put in whatever price if you might have to negotiate with the buyer. It works real slick.”
Like Maurer & Parks, Coon Well Drilling, Grand Blanc, Mich., didn't have a computer until quite recently. Since the company acquired a PC and it began making use of WellMagic last June, Michelle Skrceny has been transferring the company's data, adding current information as well as older records: “I'm still in the process. We have well logs dated all the way back to the '40s. I've entered all of our most recent ones, so now I'm in the process of doing the old, old ones. It's a lot. I already have 2,600 well logs entered.”
The effort and having everything available electronically are worth it, Skrceny reveals: “It definitely helps with the organization of things. We have used it for the well logs and for invoicing. It's much quicker than typing out a well log because all the fields are there. You just enter your information - I probably can enter one in less than two minutes. Also, it's very helpful when we need to know in a specific area the depth of the well or the casing. We can pull up all of the addresses that we have on that particular street and look at the area around there. Estimates are very easy to do on it. Invoicing is my favorite part - it's so much easier.”
Granted, a computer is not necessary to run a successful well drilling business; many contractors have done quite well for themselves without one. However, in addition to greater efficiency and organization an industry-specific system can offer, a hidden benefit of having a computerized office is time. After the initial investment of purchasing a product, learning the program, and then having the discipline to use it faithfully, every-day office procedures don't take nearly as long and can be done more professionally.
Contractors might hesitate to go computerized, especially if they've had little or no computer experience. But Coulter is reassuring, “It's really not that hard to pick up. Once you get onto it, it makes life a lot simpler.”
Many companies offer a range of industry-related computer systems. If automating your office is something you haven't done yet but are considering, the following companies provide everything from comprehensive industry-focused office packages to specific well reporting programs; take a look at what they have to offer.
Ground Water Dynamics
> H20 Tracker
KRS Enterprises Inc.
Well Log/Job Estimating program
WaterFlex for Windows