After years of focused effort, Salt River Project recently implemented an asset management program. In 2004, David Areghini, associate general manager of power construction and engineering services for Salt River Project (SRP), commissioned SRP's asset management project (AMP) with two main goals: to standardize and consolidate work processes and to consolidate data and information systems across the transmission and distribution (T&D) organization.

SRP provides electricity and water to customers in Phoenix and throughout central Arizona. Named for the major river that provides water to the area — the Salt River — SRP is the nation's third-largest public power utility and metropolitan Phoenix's largest raw water supplier.

The high-level goals of the AMP project were broken into five objectives:

  • To consolidate and standardize business processes across T&D

  • Standard Business Processes

    To gain T&D business practice efficiencies

  • To implement commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software packages with minimal customizations

  • To improve the quality and timeliness of T&D work and asset information

  • To modernize the technologies supporting T&D work and asset management.

Prior to implementing AMP, SRP managed its work and assets in multiple systems. This fragmented view of work and assets caused the T&D organization to implement manual and timely processes to track work and assets across their life cycles.

COTS with Minimal Customization

To resolve this, SRP's AMP has implemented a standard set of T&D work and asset management business processes that represent an 83% consolidation. The remaining 17% are unique processes that did not fit into a standard.

AMP's standard workflow enforces the progression of work through a common set of work statuses. This new structure has increased the visibility of work across T&D, improved stakeholder communications, uncovered potential bottlenecks sooner and driven work through its life cycle more efficiently.

One of the most compelling benefits of implementing standard work processes is the alignment of standard tasks for estimating, scheduling and reporting time and materials, providing a feedback loop for continual improvement. As AMP's information store grows, dashboards and reports will help analysts discover opportunities to improve work and materials estimates per work-unit type.

Business processes and system integrations between the T&D business and corporate services (finance, supply chain and human resources) also have been standardized. This has improved the consistency of applying corporate policies across T&D and has increased the integrity of corporate information.

Through AMP, 16 major and many minor T&D work and asset management IT solutions have been consolidated into one integrated IT solution. The core COTS software package used by SRP's AMP is IBM's Maximo Asset Management solution. Additional software packages included in the integrated AMP solution are Syclo's SMART Work Manager for the mobile solution, Obvient's FocalPoint for the performance dashboards, and Microsoft's SQL Server Reporting Services for reporting needs.

Gained Business Efficiencies

Implementing a software package with minimal customization can be difficult at best. Because of this, it was critical to select a software package that had the flexibility needed to fit the system requirements of the T&D organization closely. IBM's Maximo proved to be what SRP needed, and the resulting system was configured successfully to meet the organization's needs.

Although minimal customization was done to the core Maximo solution, the level of configuration of Maximo for AMP was beyond what is considered reasonable for ongoing system maintenance and upgrades. This high level of configuration was driven by the following factors:

  • The infancy of the Maximo Utilities module

  • Quality and Timely Information

    High-impact system design decisions made early on without fully understanding the technical ramifications within the Maximo architecture

  • Specialized business processes that needed to be accounted for within the AMP solution.

Plans are in the works to upgrade AMP to the latest version of Maximo and reduce the level of configuration. By doing this upgrade, SRP anticipates AMP will be optimized to reach an acceptable level of supportability and still meet the T&D organization's system requirements.

The largest AMP-related gain in business efficiency has been realized where process crosses organizations within T&D. This gain was accomplished by standardizing and exposing work life-cycle statuses, workflow handoffs and communications. An additional benefit is that all work is now tied to SRP's T&D assets. This will add a tremendous value to those performing asset analyses.

Processes that cross T&D and corporate service organizations also have been improved. The standardization of corporate rules has enforced good business practices consistently across all of SRP's organizations.

Because of the overarching objective to consolidate processes across T&D, improving efficiencies for individual organizations within T&D was not the highest priority for AMP. However, there have been some performance gains by reducing the number of systems and manual processes with which users need to interact.

GIS and Automated Design

Because work and assets were managed in multiple systems prior to AMP, information was stored in many repositories. In addition, numerous extracts of financial and materials information from the corporate systems were established to accommodate reporting requirements to correlate work and asset information with financial and materials information.

As this reporting environment evolved to address new business needs, it became more complex and difficult to work with. Business analysts were essential to satisfy ongoing reporting requirements.

SRP's AMP has improved this situation significantly. Information needs were considered early in the project's life cycle and drove the design of the system to ensure essential data is collected and easily accessible. Accessibility has been addressed by centralizing information in a corporate data warehouse and implementing dashboards and standard reporting. AMP has replaced more than 1000 reports with 19 dashboards and approximately 82 reports. Although it is anticipated the number of dashboards and reports will grow, governance will encourage the reuse of an optimal number of dashboards and reports.

Visibility of work has been significantly improved by using dashboards. In addition, management's awareness of how work is progressing and issues that may be impacting progress has increased. Dashboards also have improved communications among stakeholders.

Lessons Learned

The implementation of dashboards can be more difficult than one would think. This is especially true when starting from scratch. It can be a challenge to define what dashboards should look like without having a starting place from which to work. To alleviate this, the AMP team selected Obvient's FocalPoint as its dashboard solution because of its pre-built solutions for utilities. This allowed the team to start with something that could be modified based on management input.

Having management work with the dashboards as soon as possible and let their input drive evolution is crucial. An iterative development approach works well when creating dashboards.

The AMP solution benefits from close integration with SRP's corporate geographic information system (GIS) by relating T&D work and asset information stored in both Maximo and GIS, and by fully integrating SRP's GIS-based design tool with Maximo's design and estimating functionality.

Future of AMP

SRP's custom distribution design automation (DDA) tool was developed in GE's Smallworld as a primary element of the AMP solution. DDA provides SRP's distribution designers the functionality to design jobs within Smallworld using pointing rules and templates that use standard materials and labor planning units (compatible units) stored in Maximo. Mountaineer Consulting Inc. has been a strategic partner in designing this architecture as well as other fundamental AMP architectures.

A job's life cycle is managed in Maximo, and when a job is ready for a design to be done, Maximo initiates a design request within DDA. As jobs are designed in DDA, material lists and labor plans are added to job information in Maximo, enabling future work steps. Materials requests are automatically initiated within the corporate materials management system. Once a job is completed, as-built materials can be reconciled with planned materials and added to the plant accounting system automatically.

The objective of automating the distribution design process was to minimize the amount of data hand entered into multiple systems by using pointing rules, templates, compatible units and system integrations. AMP delivered this solution with some exceptions; and, with some ongoing enhancements, it is anticipated AMP will fully satisfy this objective.

Acknowledgements

One of the recurring struggles throughout the project was the significant level of give and take when balancing priorities across the project's objectives. In many cases, these objectives conflicted as the system was designed. Decisions were made to satisfy one objective and negatively impact another. Although this approach to making decisions was an intensive process, in the end, it proved to be a wise decision. For example, when the team chose to consolidate business processes and implement out-of-the-box system functionality, efficiencies of specialized groups and users suffered. Conversely, when a specialized group had critical requirements not met within the standard system, modifications were made to accommodate them.

Change management is a concept that was somewhat elusive throughout the duration of the project. Multiple change management approaches were tried during the project with varying degrees of success. Although progress was not always made in managing change, persistence was required to ensure the project was not taking steps backward.

Companies mentioned:

To assist in managing change around AMP, SRP hired The Mosaic Co. to assist SRP in creating visual process maps for AMP. Visual process maps worked well to help communicate the scope of AMP's impact and assimilate users within the system. These documents continue to be used in the training and support of AMP across the T&D organization.

With the AMP implementation complete, more work needs to be done. In addition to repairing defects and making small enhancements, SRP is planning to upgrade AMP to the latest version of Maximo as soon as is reasonable. As part of this upgrade, SRP is planning to implement a scheduling tool more robust than the scheduling functionality that comes with the Maximo tool set.

In concert with its recently initiated effort to implement SAP as its enterprise resource planning for back-office automation, SRP is working toward consolidating its work management processes across the organization into Maximo. AMP will need to be adjusted somewhat to accommodate this effort.

SRP sees AMP as foundational to how work will be managed at SRP for years to come. Work and asset management, performance management with dashboards and technology implementation practices are examples of how the utility will benefit from AMP.

Change happens because of a concerted team effort. While all AMP team members cannot be listed, David Areghini merits specific mention. He is associate general manager of SRP's power construction and engineering services and was responsible for the 2004 commissioning of the asset management project.

Kevin Huff (Kevin.Huff@srpnet.com) is the manager of asset information technology services at Salt River Project (SRP) and directed the effort to consolidate work and asset management business processes, systems and data across SRP's T&D organization. He has more than 19 years of experience implementing large information systems at SRP. He also has managed SRP's IT project management office and GIS services department, and he has managed multiple large projects including the project to migrate SRP from GFIS (IBM's original GIS solution) to the Smallworld platform.

GE Energy www.gepower.com

IBM www.ibm.com

Microsoft www.microsoft.com

Mountaineer Consulting Inc.

www.mountaineerconsulting.com

Obvient www.obvient.com

Salt River Project www.srpnet.com

SAP www.sap.com

Syclo www.syclo.com

The Mosaic Co. www.themosaiccompany.com