The SPE Gulf Coast Section (GCS) comprises more than 12,000 members, roughly 20% of worldwide SPE membership. The Section has a very active membership, with 13 study groups and 22 standing committees. Through the monthly study group luncheons, annual technical workshops, and annual fundraising social events, SPE GCS hosts an average of 15 events per month and has an  annual budget of more than $1 million.

SPE and the GCS have implemented a number of strategies to ease management of these events for the volunteer organization, while maintaining a high degree of fiduciary responsibility to the membership. These include
  • Full-time GCS Liaison—Kathy MacLennan helps with event planning, income, and expense processing
  • Contract accountant—Vicki Rau records and reports income and expenses
  • GCS-provided remote terminals for on-site credit card processing
  • Professionally managed Web site with dedicated webmaster, Jason McElweenie, for e-marketing, event calendaring, online registration, and credit card processing features.

Even with these resources in place, the volunteer organization of study group and committee treasurers,section treasurer, and vice treasurer were highly challenged with managing event reports, processing and recording income and expenses, paying invoices, and reporting results for a high level of activity. The event reporting system consisted of Excel-based event report and payment request forms submitted by e-mail to the GCS treasurer or vice treasurer after each event, along with scanned,faxed, or mailed copies of invoices and credit card payment receipts. If everything went as planned,bills were paid and income was collected. But, the Section still had a problem with collecting, filing,archiving, and retrieving records for events,income, and expenses.

Recognizing that our systems were strained, at the beginning of the 2005–06 fiscal year the GCS board of directors appointed a subcommittee to study what could be done to automate the event reporting process, expense approval, record archiving, and reporting. The subcommittee explored a number of options, ranging from adding paid staff to using new software. Because it would solve the internal process problems we had identified and because the board felt that it complimented SPE’s mission of education and tech transfer, we chose to implement state-of-the-art, Web-based software for the event reporting and payment request process.

The subcommittee selected Livelink enterprise content management software, with integrated process management capabilities, from Open TextCorp. The application will be implemented by Stonebridge, a technology consulting firm with experience in the upstream industry.The new event reporting system allows study group and committee treasurers to enter event reports from any computer connected to the Internet. A Web-based form is used to report attendance and registration fees, as well as expenses by category for the event. Invoices and other supporting documents are scanned and uploaded to the Section’s Livelink server, which is maintained at SPE headquarters in Richardson. Alternately, these documents can be faxed or mailed to the GCS liaison, who then scans and attaches the documents to the Livelink event report.

Once an event report is submitted, both the GCS treasurer and vice treasurer are automatically notified by e-mail. Either can log on to the Livelink server to review the report and documentation,approve invoices for payment, or request further information from the initiator of the report—all without e-mailing or downloading the documents.After review and approval of the event report andsupporting documents, the system notifies the GCS liaison by e-mail that checks have been requested.The liaison then logs on to Livelink to see instructions on what checks are to be printed and subsequently signed by a member of the GCS board executive committee.

Users can set their notification preferences so that they are notified when an assignment arrives, when an assignment is late, and when an assignment is completed. Once all expenses for an event are paid,the event is archived, preserving all registration and expense data in a reportable form, and preserving supporting documents so that they are available for review in the future.

Any member who is interested can receive a copy of the Event Report User’s Guide upon request.