James McCallum: Energy firms must embrace ‘power of technology’ to ease their troubles

Xergy Group
Digital Transformation Energy Sector Challenges Improving Margins project management
James McCallum

Xergy founder James McCallum discusses the role of technology in helping improve energy firms’ margins.

As we move towards a meaningful energy transition, 2024 is throwing up challenges that are reshaping the trajectory of energy projects.

Policy switches from government, the competing agendas of different energy providers, cost inflation and the constant struggle for securing investment, have put many projects on the back burner. It is becoming increasingly evident that operators, developers, and the supply chain must proactively drive efficiencies if projects are to be successfully delivered.

The energy transition landscape is marked by seemingly continuous flux, both regulatory and market driven. When I speak to senior figures within the energy sector they talk of uncertainty and changes of direction that undermine confidence and can affect crucial investment decisions and long-term planning.

Cost inflation throughout the supply chain, caused by global shocks such as the pandemic, the Ukraine war and instability in the Middle East, further compounds the problem, squeezing profit margins and putting financial viability at risk. This means there is greater pressure to find innovative ways to manage costs and optimise resources.

This was particularly evident in 2023. For example, many offshore wind projects have been affected by the perfect storm (pun most definitely intended) of high tariffs and supply chain issues. Meanwhile, oil and gas firms are still dealing with windfall tax fallout and are bracing for a likely General Election in 2024 that could herald a new Government and further changes in policy.

With so many external pressures, businesses must get back to dealing with what is within their control and move towards greater digitalisation and the use of analytic tools to reduce costs and increase margins in tight markets.

I have spent my career looking at how to maximise efficiency and it amazes me when I speak to many other successful businesspeople about their pain points, and they still don’t leverage the power of technology to ease their troubles. We hear so much about how Artificial Intelligence will change our lives – and it most certainly will – but there are already smart business tools in the market that can genuinely transform the way companies do business.

The emphasis on efficiency isn’t solely about mitigating the impact of external factors; it’s about fortifying the energy industry against uncertainties. This can be achieved by embracing technological advancements, leveraging data-driven insights, and harnessing the power of specialised project management software.

Software, equipped with features tailored to the complexities of the energy sector, has emerged as a crucial asset. It allows for streamlined collaboration, real-time tracking, risk assessment, and predictive analysis, empowering project managers to make informed decisions swiftly and effectively.

Time, often a critical factor in project delivery, is saved through automated workflows, centralised data management, and seamless communication channels. Additionally, the financial savings stemming from reduced errors, minimised rework, and optimised resource allocation are significant, bolstering the bottom line of projects.

The role of well-managed and controlled projects has become the linchpin for success – especially in securing decent margins for hard-pressed businesses.

Operators and the supply chain are recognising the transformative potential of digitalisation, not only as a response to current challenges but as a strategic investment for the future. As we navigate the complexities of energy transition, efficiency and digitalisation in project management will undoubtedly play an increasingly significant role in delivering a sustainable and prosperous future.

James McCallum is chairman and co-founder of Xergy. With offices in Aberdeen, Broughty Ferry, Dubai, and Perth, Australia, the company’s project management software Proteus enables customers to ​simplify the way they work on projects.​​​ It is an end-to-end project management software tool that delivers detailed workflows that cover every aspect of complex engineering projects. 

About Proteus

Proteus is an end-to-end project management solution developed for the energy and engineering consulting industries. 

Proteus is industry-proven and enables consultancies to meet project demands across the full lifecycle, from proposal development to project delivery. Proteus helps its customers win more business, increase efficiencies, manage expenditures, and improve project controls.

Critical workflows, automation, and controls are integrated into Proteus. These include opportunity evaluation, proposal building, resource planning, budget tracking and forecasting, real-time multi-level restricted dashboards, and project performance analytics.

Third-party integrations and customised solutions allow Proteus’ users, which include C-suite, project leads, and engineers, to get the exact software solution needed for their business.

We offer a free onboarding consultation service to ensure your company account is set up to your company’s needs. Proteus operates under a software-as-a-service model with licences starting at $40 per user per month. 

How to get Proteus

We recommend getting setup on a free trial. Proteus operates under a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. We offer Enterprise packages and flexible pricing solutions: contact our team to learn more.

We designed Proteus to be simple, and that means you can get up and running on Proteus without an IT team or support from a programmer. You will want to spend a bit of time configuring the admin console so that you have everything set up to suit your company structure, but it’s very intuitive and you don’t need a PhD in IT. However, we want you to get the best out of what is a brilliantly powerful tool, so don’t hesitate to ask for our support. We have a team of product experts who are ready to help you with the configuration process, so get in touch today by filling out the form below:

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