Monday, September 24, 2012

Analytics best practices from PG&E's Janet Lee Redmond and Ramelle Ruff

Reflecting further on the 2012 SAP for Utilities conference, we enjoyed the presentation by Pacific Gas & Electric's Janet Lee Redmond and Ramelle Ruff on analytics best practices. While the context was HR efficiency, Janet's and Ramelle's points were clearly applicable to many types of operations and projects. Our key take aways included the following:
  • Fewer metrics are better; they're more manageable by their owners, and digestible by the intended audience.
  • Choose metrics that truly measure the success of key business processes. While some extra data may be nice to have, that can get noisy and obscure what's actually important.
  • Pick benchmarks related to your business, but consider those from outside your industry as well.
  • Avoid the "we are special" mentality that often leads to exemptions and non-standard measurements. Do this by collaborating across stakeholders and ensuring buy-in from the beginning.
  • Assign owners to each metric, to maintain their integrity over time. Good governance is key to enduring value here.
  • Define how data will be presented and strive to eliminate manual manipulation, which will lead to additional versions reports and make periodic comparisons or comparisons across departments and users far more difficult.
  • Last, define the frequency of evaluations and updates to your metrics. Ad hoc or reactive approaches will just lead to data that can't be properly compared from one period to the next.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SAP fleet management & Wright Express integration

Over the last several months, we've been implementing SAP fleet management with integrated fuel consumption data for a utility company based on HPC's SAP fleet management template. As we approach go-live, here's a rundown of the business process scope and benefits:
  • SAP Easy DMS for digitizing documents and photos for each vehicle
  • Wright Express Integration to monitor fuel consumption, miles driven and MPG automation
  • Preventive and Corrective Maintenance via the SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) module
  • Automated Fleet Rentals through Kronos Timesaver fleet usage and integration to SAP via ePersonality and Excel uploads
Once live, the SAP system will know the exact mileage for each vehicle via the Wright Express integration. This means that our customer will no longer be required to collect odometer reads manually or calculate mileage on Excel spreadsheets. SAP will do all of this automatically, including calculating service notifications in real time and generating work orders for Preventative Maintenance. The system will also accommodate Corrective Maintenance with user codes already in place.

All labor and external parts invoices will be entered into SAP, so a full costing for each vehicle will be performed. At go-live, the manual processes associated with the customer's old Maximo system—odometer reads, fuel consumption, MPG, wage rates, new order requests, actual cost data entry, Maximo timecards, etc.—will no longer be required, so the customer will simply be able to stop performing them.

When fleet units are acquired, inspected, and sold, all associated documents (e.g., bills of sale, DMV records, etc.) will be scanned and uploaded via SAP Easy DMS. The days of misplaced titles and smog records are over.

Other benefits include significantly reduced manual data entry, far greater integration of important data in SAP, and several big steps towards eliminating Maximo and all of its associated costs.

Learn more about our approach to SAP fleet management and integration with fuel consumption data.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mobility at SAP for Utilities 2013

Reflecting on this year's SAP for Utilities conference, two presentations about mobility solutions stand out in particular. Greg Rimmer of the Water Corporation of Western Australia presented a number of key take-aways from their mobility implementation:
  • It's not just another IT project. 
  • Solicit input from end users on hardware usability.
  • Develop apps that add real, measurable value.
  • Apps should run without an connection.
  • Data entry screens should be intuitive and context-sensitive.
  • Allow collection of all data, then reconcile it after upload.
  • Be extensible.
  • Enlist field associates for training.
  • Again, it's not just another IT project.
The following day, John Northko of Aquarian Water and Florian Ganz of Energy4U spoke about Aquarian's mobile asset solution. One of Florian's comments struck us as particularly noteworthy: get the software right, and users will treat the hardware as their own--that is, carefully. Experience showed that ruggedization is far less important than usability, and that even relatively fragile tablets can tolerate everyday use just fine. In fact, Florian found that iPads were most often returned not due to damage or abuse, but rather from worn batteries and other normal wear-and-tear.

Monday, September 17, 2012

SAP FERC Enhancement Project

This summer, we conducted a top-level assessment of a utility's SAP IS-U/FERC module configuration and business processes, and identified a number of enhancements that would benefit the company—both in its daily operations and for its future plans to join the state ISO.

Next week, we begin the full-scale implementation to realize the following four goals:
  1. A streamlined FERC process that can be run monthly.

  2. An efficient and accurate process for handling actual labor charges, secondary cost element credits on cost centers, and related secondary cost element debits on non-capital PM/Internal Orders, such that payroll taxes and benefits currently included in fully loaded labor rates are calculated correctly and applied through overhead processes.

  3. A consolidated process to manage Fleet costs and equipment charges, such that line item detail for maintenance of equipment does not appear in distribution/transmission O&M FERC accounts.

  4. An efficient and automated way to determine appropriate allocations to FERC accounts without having to mimic the flow-of-cost trace outside of SAP.
This work will utilize key functionality of HPC's SAP-certified software solution Utility Financials Accelerator (UFA) that is not included in the standard FERC module, in order to increase the project's efficiency; reduce ongoing trace workload and errors; improve the speed and accuracy of new order creation; automate translation of natural accounts to regulatory categories; and facilitate better ongoing table maintenance.

Stay tuned for additional insights and results as the project unfolds in the coming months.