Packaged Energy Delivery Systems
It is an exciting time for Energy Delivery Systems.
Industry investment in Smart Grid and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) are fueling advances in systems that store, process and manage data. Security protection standards (most notably those of the North American Reliability Corporation (NERC) Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) program) are changing the way Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems are integrated and supported. In addition, growing feature sets for Outage/Distribution Management and Mobile Workforce systems are enhancing the usefulness of these tools.
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 requirements is a task familiar to most projects. Too often they are unorganized or lack specificity resulting in scope creep, project delays, cost overruns, and quality issues. These risks are particularly pronounced with vendor delivered systems, a model common to utility projects. Utility systems are rarely ‘off-the-shelf ‘ product implementations. Most customers require the vendor tailor the product to meet their operational needs. These modifications increase delivery risk.
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 project delivery could be more important.