Packaged Energy Delivery Systems – Start at the Beginning with Requirements
It is an exciting time for Energy Delivery Systems including the new Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) and the updated Energy Management Systems (EMS), Distribution Management Systems (DMS) and Outage Management Systems (OMS).
Utility industry investment in Smart Grid, Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) are fueling advances in utility energy delivery and outage management systems that store, process and manage electrical and customer data. Security protection standards, most notably the most recent updates of the North American Reliability Corporation (NERC) Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) program, are changing the way Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems are managed, integrated and supported. In addition, growing feature sets for ADMS, EMS, DMS, and OMS are enhancing the usefulness of these tools and extending that data to the service and repair crews as well as the customers. New emergence of Microgrids and Distributed Energy Management Systems (DERMS) also add to the complexity of the electrical network and the outage prediction.
Success in this climate requires more from today’s IT project and support teams. Increased regulation requires stringent process definition and more exacting system configuration. Systems are becoming increasingly sensitive to changes introduced through interfaces and data maintenance changes. Simply put, there is less room for error. Couple these factors with the integration challenges of third party provided systems and it’s enough to make one’s head spin!
So what is a team to do? Our answer: Start at the beginning, with requirements. Requirements serve as the foundation for project scope and articulate what constitutes success. The importance of defining them completely and accurately cannot be overstated.
Defining application and business requirements is a task familiar to most projects. Too often the requirements are unorganized or lack specificity resulting in scope creep, project delays, cost overruns, and quality issues. These risks are particularly pronounced with waterfall vendor delivered systems, a model common to utility projects. Utility systems are rarely ‘off-the-shelf‘ product implementations and can be moderately to heavily customized. Most customers require the vendor tailor the product to meet their operational needs. These modifications increase delivery risk and add to the scope and effort of the project.
Requirements are typically finalized in the vendor’s technical Statement of Work (SOW) prior to project implementation. Expending the effort to define accurate and detailed requirements during the SOW development phase can help clarify scope, define ownership and results in a more accurate and achievable contract.
Defining requirements is fraught with challenge, but no single aspect of the systems delivery could be more important.