Utility Week

Utility Week 18th October 2013

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Operations & Assets EXPERT VIEW Andrew Keevil, Esri uk One view of the truth •  What "good" looks like. The right requirements must be set and the contract is focused on the achievement of those specific requirements. •  Its existing cost base for the current work. For example, how much does it cost to install a meter or dig up a road? Does the cost vary depending upon when or where it is done? 2.  Never forget the human side Employment law imposes a number of statutory obligations that need to be considered well in advance, including in many circumstances a statutory right for existing staff to transfer to the new contractor on broadly the same terms and conditions of employment, as well as duties on the employer to inform and consult with representatives of the affected workforce. Human resource issues need to be handled with care because ensuring a stable workforce up to and following the outsourcing of a business function can be crucial to the success of the project as well as to maintaining the trust of existing employees. 3.  Plan for transition It is vital that there is no confusion as to who should be doing what. The initial handover period (including any necessary knowledge transfer) requires special attention; the parties will not get a second chance to ensure that the initial transition is performed successfully. 4.  Be ready for change In the interests of certainty it is usually best to agree fixed prices for future services, to the extent possible. Unit based pricing which attaches to discrete elements of a "job" should be fixed for the contractual duration. This will enable the energy company to have price certainty moving forward. Where such certainty cannot be provided, a strict (and well-drafted) regime for dealing with change and providing for an agreed outcome is the recommended route. This will ensure some certainty for both parties as to what will happen as field force operations change and extra services are required or existing services dispensed with. A poorly thought-through or executed arrangement is unlikely to meet the needs of either the energy company or the field force contractor. It will be especially important for energy suppliers to consider these issues as they prepare for the operational and competitive challenges of the next decade. Chris Holder is a partner and Adam Gillert an associate at the law firm Bird & Bird LLP This article does not constitute legal advice and is not intended by either the author(s) or by Bird & Bird LLP to do so. Robust location information is essential to enable utilities to improve business performance. Andrew Keevil explains why. L ocation information is critical to utility operations. Infrastructure-based network operators need to know where their assets, facilities and people are, often in real time. Retail businesses are primarily interested in customer location, but as smart metering is rolled out, asset location becomes increasingly important. Property addresses are often unhelpful. Assets, people and facilities do not have a formal "address" and, where an address exists, it may be inaccurate, ambiguous or outof-date. Location and address data typically exist in multiple formats, based in multiple databases across different departments of a business and all too often, the different sources arehard to reconcile. This creates a fundamental problem. Lack of robustness in location information can lead to delays in decision making, and this can hinder a utility company from delivering the fast, efficient service essential for brand reputation and public safety. Crucially, it can lead to the loss of millions of pounds in unbilled revenue. We commissioned a survey that revealed that utilities typically store location information across as many as ten different systems, with external data sourced from many more. "Shadow IT" and duplicated entries add further complexity, as does the address lifecycle itself. Any address can go through multiple stages in its lifetime and utilities must keep the data updated for service continuity. To help tackle these challenges, forward-thinking utilities are creating a centralised hub of address information. By putting all location information into a single system, staff across the business can work more efficiently. A single, accurate view of all location information can have far-reaching business benefits. •  more efficient, cost-effective operations; •  increased billed revenue; •  better customer service; •  enhanced emergency response; •  better incident investigation; •  better business intelligence. One of the most powerful advantages of a single view of location is the ability to create new business insight from existing information. A new wave in location analytics tools, which simply plug-in to existing BI and CRM systems, promise to merge business and location information with the potential to radically improve corporate business intelligence. Patterns, trends and other previously unforeseen relationships can be revealed, and questions answered with a single query. This all helps build confidence. Confidence in data means that it gets used, and if it gets used correctly it is maintained. Simply put, a 40%-plus improvement in master data quality can mean the difference between a top 20% and bottom 30% performance. To find out more, please read our white paper at www.esriuk.com/locationmanagementwp or contact akeevil@esriuk.com. Andrew Keevil, Esri UK UTILITY WEEK | 18th - 24th October 2013 | 25

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