Oil & Gas Consulting Company

Redesigned and Modernized Core Application

Oil & Gas Consulting Company Case Study Snapshot


6 – 15


15 months


(migration from Microsoft Access)


Many people will say that “time is money,” but in few industries is that truer than in oil and gas. Oil refineries operate 24/7 to process crude oil into what we use to power our cars and homes. Processing millions of gallons of oil a day, every hour is valuable. Because of this, refineries will not stop for routine maintenance, rather, they will take a short period of time every four years or so and do a complete “turnaround,” orchestrating years’ worth of repairs and maintenance in one fell swoop. These are complex and expensive operations, requiring meticulous planning and coordination, as they often demand a large workforce and must be completed within a tight schedule to minimize downtime and lost production.

This, as you may imagine, is not easy. That’s where our Client comes in, providing a service for oil refineries around the country to track what repairs are needed as issues crop up, so they can plan, organize, and orchestrate their turnaround. When the time comes, they ensure it goes as quickly and smoothly as possible, saving the refinery time and money. Over more than two decades, our Client built tooling to support the turnaround process in a Microsoft Access database. This tooling managed all elements of a turnaround: collecting data, ordering materials, contracting tradesmen, and planning the operation – for each of their clients.

Eventually, they realized that an Access based solution had taken them as far as it could.  They needed to re-platform the current functionality onto a new modern architecture that could better scale as their business grew, and potentially become a system they could license to their customers. With this in mind, they needed more than just software developers. They needed a development partner who could help them make this transition to new technology, deliver a more intuitive user interface, and lead them through the process. 

Our Solution

Calavista designed a new architecture to modernize their Microsoft Access based application to a new desktop application that could be independently distributed to clients with improved functionality and flow. We modernized the app from a single database program to a distributed database system, and created an architecture that our Client’s own engineers could easily build upon in the future.

Our Process

The Client had created their original program themselves on Microsoft Access. They understood software development but recognized that their team had been focused on an older technology for over a decade. They saw the value of having a dedicated development team from Calavista take on the mission of redesigning their application, so they could stay focused on their business. We reverse-engineered their existing application in a new tech stack that would allow them to better expand upon it in the future and provide better functionality to their clients.

Reverse Engineering

The software used by our Client worked well, but it needed some modernization.  It may seem as if the requirements were already there – “just make it work like the old application” – but that overlooks some key aspects of business analysis and requirements management. Because the tool was used internally, and not supported on an actual customer base, documentation was scarce, and frequently out of date. Our team had to wade through years of added functionality, some of which only worked for certain types of logins, or hadn’t been used in years. Getting requirements right was essential. Calavista’s approach was to dedicate an engineer to breaking down the application, creating “requirements” based on what already existed, so other developers could reverse-engineer the software in the new architecture. This provided the benefit of rigorous requirements gathering with a modified discovery process, leading to a streamlined development process with clear goals.

Fresh UI/UX

While beginning the work on re-architecting the Client’s existing software, we recognized the opportunity to improve the user interface and user experience (UI/UX) of the application. The Client had some concerns about this initially: it was in the field, and they were reluctant to change the look and feel of the application too much for their users. However, once we presented them with our designs, they realized that UI/UX could be vastly improved without complicating the user experience.  In fact, the new UI/UX did just the opposite, making the application more professional and easier to use, even for existing change-averse users.

No Drama

Over the course of the project, Calavista’s team worked with the Clients leadership to envision and create the best new iteration of their application. Though they had a background in software development themselves, such a large project – spanning multiple disciplines – was too much for their team to take on alone, and so they trusted Calavista to make insightful and strong decisions for the project. A mutual appreciation of the threat of scope creep kept the project on track, as each party recognized that ideas for new features should be expanded upon later, rather than derailing the current roadmap.

The Results

Our Client relies on their software to track, organize, and plan turnarounds for oil refineries around the nation. It is imperative that it not only works, but works well, so nothing slips through the cracks and a successful turnaround can be orchestrated down to the hour. Their old platform was starting to fall short, but after partnering with Calavista, they have a new desktop application with improved UI/UX, a centrally located database engine, and reusable modules to make future development faster and easier. Additionally, they are now in a place where introducing a mobile version is a practical next step. Their new solution has improved life for both our Client and their customers.

At Calavista Software, we have experience with different types of projects in a number of different industries. We can recreate an existing application as we did here or create something from scratch, whichever best suits your needs. If you are interested in learning more about the types of projects we do or how we might be able to help your organization, check out our other case studies or email us directly at info@calavista.com.

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