Skagerak Nett is one of Norway’s largest grid companies, delivering power to more than 189,000 customers over 3,562 square kilometres in the Grenland and Vestfold regions in southern Norway.
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Early automation adopter
Skagerak has been active in the automated meter reading area long before the new regulation became effective. In the largest pilot rollout of 10,000 meters in 2008, Skagerak needed a system tool to effectively book customer appointments. That was when the company first came into contact with Tieto.
In 2014, Skagerak chose Tieto from over ten candidates to deliver key IT solutions for errands and work orders throughout the company. The first area of use was for meter changes in daily operations and for Automated Meter Reading (AMR) rollout. The project went live in January 2016.
Workflow management key to efficiency
Skagerak’s implementation revolves around the Workflow Management System (WMS) module of the Tieto Smart Utility system designed specifically for utility companies. In the first phase, Skagerak uses WMS for meter-related work orders. The delivered system support for the AMR rollout will go live at the end of 2016.
Jan Rondeel, CIO at Skagerak Nett, says that although WMS is now being used for a relatively small part of the company’s operations, that part is where the biggest benefits could be realised the most quickly.
“Before WMS, our field engineers performing meter changes started their day by printing their daily assignments on paper. At the end of the day, they typed their reports into the work order system, and afterwards, back-office personnel had to manually retype the information into the CIS system. This was an inefficient and error-prone process.”
The new Workflow Management System automates the information flow end-to-end. Field personnel receive their assignments and report back on their tablet computers.
“This level of automation and integration with other systems enables us to work much more efficiently than before”, Mr Rondeel says.
Good cooperation brings good results
“When you have an IT project of this magnitude and complexity, it is inevitable that you hit bumps on the way”, says Mr Rondeel. “The work processes being automated had a high degree of complexity, and both Tieto and Skagerak worked well together to go live with a solution with high quality in process support even if that meant extending the original go-live date.”
“Tieto has a good understanding of how a grid company works on both the technical and the business side, which is very important. They are genuinely interested in how to make both systems and processes work better.”
The future requires better IT and better customer experience
With the upcoming changes in the electricity business, such as datahubs, the supplier-centric model and increasing micro-generation, grid companies must rethink how they operate and how the grid should be designed.
“Some grid companies see themselves becoming nearly invisible and don’t consider it important to have customer data stored in their own systems”, Mr Rondeel says. “We at Skagerak have an opposite view. We have a responsibility towards our customers to show that we have a roadmap for continuously better service, control over our grid and all the work that is being done on the grid.”
Skagerak Nett will focus on a good future customer experience. Delivering good technical customer support through both self-service and the contact centre is important. Having control and overview of all work being performed, as well as the state of the grid (planned and unplanned outages) makes using this information to enable self-service to the grid customer.
“We want to be equipped to support new technologies and needs instead of blocking development. Our goals and wishes, and Tieto’s thoughts for WMS align very well.”