National Grid, the customer, is UK’s largest electricity and gas utility. With transmission and distribution operations in the UK and a large presence in the regulated US market , it has an annual turnover in excess of £20 billion.
Electricity and gas utilities in the UK are currently dealing with stricter regulatory guidelines in the form of RIIO (Revenue = Incentives + Innovation + Output) introduced by Ofgem. These guidelines are aimed at creating safer, more resilient networks that meet environmental objectives and which, additionally, protect the interests of consumers by achieving operational efficiencies. In order to ensure these objectives are met and products and services are delivered at fair prices to customers, utilities need to improve the performance of their field forces.
National Grid’s (NG) transmission business was using a bespoke Work Management Solution to schedule and deliver work to its 1,500 field force engineers spread across the UK. The business was at risk of losing the benefits leveraged from the bespoke solution as the cost of support was rising and a majority of the solution components were going out of support. Wipro’s Transmision Front Office (TFO) – Scheduling and Mobile (S&M) team was tasked with replacing the ageing IT solution to ensure business continued post March 2014.
The project, with an implementation period of 19 months was business critical for NG. The TFO-S&M team used the opportunity to introduce IT capabilities that meet current business needs but also improved efficiencies and provided a strong platform for future growth.
Wipro as the lead SI delivered the SAP Mobility platform solution covering the field force of 1,500. Globally, TFO-S&M was the first to implement the SAP mobility platform (SMP3.0) with the NG Corporate App store. This allowed field force users to use consumer grade devices like iPads in an enterprise environment for a more comfortable experience.
The TFO-S&M team also delivered the following ‘Firsts’ within NG as well as across the UK utility industry:
- An iOS-based solution for work management
- Open UI to integrate two apps on iOS devices
- A Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution
- VPN on demand for mobile devices
- Developed and deployed the NG Corporate App Store
Key implementation challenges:
- Coordination between multiple vendor partners (total of 11 partners)
- Business buy-in on the proposed solution
- Organization change during the project tenure
- Handling critical business processes linked to payroll, in a unionized environment
Key Differentiators in program governance and delivery approach:
- Business ownership and participation: Strong business support and sponsorship in establishing and achieving the common program objective.
- Vendor partner management: Regular meetings and common tools used to provide visibility and transparency to project progress across all work streams to ensure project success.
- Requirements management: Effective management through design solution alternatives with early visibility of the final output (process modelling, wireframes for iOS solution, witness testing) helping in managing the requirement throughout the project.
- Delivery Excellence: Resilience built into the design; several standard techniques around build, reusability, tools, and testing implemented, resulting in minimal defects in UAT. Change Management: Continuous communication and involvement of end users, including change champions helped in obtaining required buy in at each milestone of the project. Effective end user training and minimal lead time between training and deployment helped onboard users.
- The solution improves field performance, unlocks business efficiencies of multi million £ andbenefits in reduced cost and operational efficiencies. This has been achieved through:
- Maximizing the use of automated scheduling and reducing resource costs for managing change in plans
- Use of a single source of data to improve resource planning and prioritizing planned work
- Providing field users with true ‘Point of Work’ devices to unlock cost savings and improve efficiencies
- Increased productivity driven by use of ’On-Demand’ functionality to get historical information of assets
- Better job information at point of work that improved work quality and safety
- The continued maintenance to ensure safety and reliability of Transmission assets for both Electricity and Gas
- Improved accuracy of Time and Cost capture against Work-Orders and approval functionality
The ‘Scheduling and Mobile’ project has been one of the more complex projects implemented in Transmission at National Grid. The team adopted a business lead “One team” approach where 11 partners worked together with Wipro leading as SI. As the existing systems were coming to end of life an on-time go-live was critical. The project was delivered on time and budget. The go-live was smooth, user feedback has been positive and they find that the system is intuitive and easy to use. The project was nominated for “Team of the year” award at the UK Utilities event and won the UK SAP excellence awards for innovation.