The utility industry is one of many feeling pressure to deliver new and improved customer experiences to meet evolving demands.
Today’s consumers expect their interactions with companies to offer the efficiency, consistency and transparency of the ecommerce leaders-on their computers, tablets and smartphones. This expectation extends to new service applications for electric, gas and water services. This evolution of customer expectations is causing the following pain-points:
- Enrollment processing – Fixed staffing resources and varying application volumes strain a utility’s ability to meet regulated service levels
- Process Complexity – New service connections often require coordination, information sharing and communication between multiple departments within the utility
- Communications gap – Municipalities and utilities are working in parallel to approve and inspect new connections, often with limited collaboration and communication between the two
- Technology resource constraints — Delivering high quality, on-line customer experiences requires resource investment which can stress already busy IT departments
Understanding these common issues with utilities around DG integration, West Monroe has developed Connect-the-GridTM.
Connect-the-GridTM is a cloud-based resource for utilities that provides step-by-step work flow for application approvals. The Connect-the-GridTM platform serves as an online resource for applicants to learn about requirements, submit and track the status of their application. The tool also allows the utility to monitor and accurately forecast DG resource performance to deliver stable and reliable grid operations.
Connect-the-GridTM is currently piloting at a regulated distribution utility that serves more than a million customers.
Key capabilities of this solution include:
- Enable an "Easy" Experience for Customers/Contractors and Users – From interface design to workflow flexibility to role-based visibility and security settings, ConnectTheGrid™ was designed with the customer and the user in mind.The platform makes the interconnection process seamless to the contractor/customer and helps the utility user prioritize applications to be addressed based on parameters they set (time, complexity/size, role, etc.). Plus, ConnectTheGrid™ can be used on a computer, tablet, or mobile phone.
- Flexible Deployment Model – ConnectTheGrid™ is supported by West Monroe’s utility and technology consulting teams, who can support requirements gathering, configuration, system integration, and training. Or, the platform can be configured by the utility.
- Flexible Support of customer processes and support for new Electric, DER, Gas, and Water connections – Utilizing a single platform for all types of new service connections offers customer satisfaction and cost benefits. ConnectTheGrid™ delivers a consistent, transparent, online experience across multiple service applications and workflows required for each service type. This can dramatically reduce cycle type for new service application processing and reduce the associated costs.
- Scalability – ConnectTheGrid™’s single workflow management solution is a cloud-based platform that ensures scalability with high reliability and security.
- Lower Maintenance Cost – This utility-focused solution was specifically built for utility service connections and tailored for a low operating cost for utilities.
- Enrollment Dashboard – Collects, tracks, and manages the enrollment application process (interconnection/net metering) between the customer and the utility.
- Online applications – A smart, customizable, online form guides customers through the appropriate application type for their system.
- IT/OT System Integration – The master data from ConnectTheGrid™ can be securely exchanged and kept in sync with the same subset of data that is located in the existing utility systems such as GIS, SCADA, DMS, WMS, power flow tools, EMS, and CIS.
- Reports Generation – On-demand and ad-hoc reporting of new service workflow activities is supported via online dashboards and other reporting tools.
West Monroe Partners supports electric utilities in confronting the challenges that come with bringing distributed generation resources online and the ongoing management of the impact these resources have on grid operations.