Micros Have "Proven Reliable" for Phillips Petroleum

Article excerpt

While many consultants may priase standardization and infrastructure, Phillips Petroleum is relying on employee satisfaction to cost justify its microcomputer program, according to Roy Dickson, manager of information systems with the Bartlesville corporation.

Since it initiated its study of microcomputer potential four years ago, Phillips has found micros "have indeed proven reliable" for diverse corporate usage, "certainly more reliable than communication interfaces, and more responsive than tying mainframes through communication linkages."

Its study and implementation, meanwhile, has proven micros to be cost justifiable during an extremely tight period in the petroleum industry, Dickson pointed out. With over 800 micros installed, Phillips has reduced its central processing center activity by 10 percent.

Based on a three year product lifetime projection, the $750,000 program has resulted in tangible returns of 4.5 times the program cost, and intangible returns of 5.5 times the program cost, Dicksonsaid.

Phillips Petroleum established its micro evaluation program in 1981, at the launch of the IBM PC. The development of fourth generation language, Dickson noted, made micro integration to its central data processing banks potentially advantageous.

The evaluation was to determine if, through the micro, Phillips could extend its data processing capabilities with the main data processing center as a systems organizer, providing centralized support.

Usage of Phillips' central information service, comprised of an IBM mainframe system in Bartlesville, was divided into six basic areas: commercial; technical; data processing; distribution of dataprocessing; standards, security, and control; and system planning. Approximately 60 percent of Phillips total data processing activity was managed by that system, he said.

After an initial evaluation of the TRS 80, Apple II, and the IBM PC, the Phillips staff determined micros could be cost effective on one-time problem situations or in problem solving applications without central programming requirements. In addition, the micro provided reliable new automation opportunities to combine multiple usage modes.

"Being able to see these in multiple-uses means it is much easier to justify," Dickson noted.

The study also projected a significant price reduction for the micro due to increased volume and competition, he said. The major limiting factor, however, would be developing widespread user capabilities.

The staff recommended a standardization policy with a central purchasing body and strong employee training program. But when the program was approved in May, 1982, "it went a full circle," Dicksonsaid.

Phillips philosophy centered on making it easy for employees to try out and experience a microcomputer, making sure it was used for a "solid business reason. …