Driving Efficiencies through Operational Excellence

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With ubiquitous internet and a surge in the adoption of digital platforms and applications, consumer mindsets and expectations have evolved. As a result, utility service providers of water, electricity and natural gas, among others are investing in software tools and applications to improve their operational efficiency. As utility service providers plan for their growth, they need to keep an eye on the following factors for their technology led transformation.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer-facing websites and mobile applications must meet user expectations – digital applications must be reliable, easy to use and consistent across devices. Companies should conduct an unbiased validation their applications in ‘near-real’ environments before making them available to the public. This allows for companies to validate the applications for integration and compatibility with other applications and a good sense of the expected levels of customer satisfaction and user experience.

Real-Time Visibility

Since operational costs are outpacing rate increases, utility systems must operate more efficiently than before. Utility providers automate network maintenance and management by integrating with other utility systems such as building management systems, billing and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA). For most companies in the space, outage management is one of the factors that is used to measure performance efficiency – therefore risk prediction and management has become a critical area for decision making. From network parameters to maintenance, companies are using analytics to derive insights from multiple data sources data to manage risk and bring more real-time transparency to its key performance metrics.

Managing Workforce

Utilities invest significant amounts of money into work planning and scheduling systems, which in turn provide essential data to field service personnel for assigning crews to jobs. Managing the workforce becomes challenging in the event of an outage – latency and access problems can cause major delays to restoration efforts. The concurrency of multiple job information parameters and the range of supported mobile devices makes it difficult for firms to accomplish speedy restoration.

In case of extreme disruptions, utility companies may have to pay for additional foreign and contract crews for restoration efforts which dents profitability and operational efficiency. It is imperative to run through simulated real-world-like conditions of spikes, surges and stress to validate the workforce management systems of utility systems.

Smart Meters

Smart meters and smart meter systems have grown in popularity in recent years owing to  government incentives and customer feedback. Utilities anticipate that an AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) solution will provide a high quality data on a real time basis. which in turn can improve grid reliability and energy efficiency. A thorough performance testing of meters, communication infrastructure and software components is a critical success factor in any smart meter deployment  This will help utility companies achieve the functional and user-experience based targets of their systems and softwares.

Payment Solutions

Depending on the stage of their technology adoption and modernization, utility companies are improving the range of payment options for their end consumers. With new payment technologies and trends, utility companies need to evaluate and adopt best practices for a sustainable, secure payment ecosystem at a manageable cost to the organization. With a focus on stability, reliability, speed and resilience of customer payments, a well-established quality engineering solution for security and performance is critical for the stability of IT applications of utility companies.

Qualitest – A proven quality engineering partner

Companies should start with a holistic maturity assessment to assess their current IT application landscape against industry peers and identify opportunities to build capabilities and scale up. Qualitest, with a sound quality engineering experience across multiple domains and application landscapes has proven expertise in helping companies achieve industry leading standards across their IT ecosystem. As the world’s leading AI powered quality Qualitest service offerings range from end-to-end quality engineering (QE), automation, accessibility, performance engineering and cyber security testing and has provided scalable business solutions for energy and utility companies. Utility companies stand to gain a competitive edge and improve their brand value by investing in a world class quality-first engineering approach.

About the author:

Devnag Padavala is Vice President at Qualitest.