A utility office staff member uses a tablet.

An outage management system (OMS) has useful features for your utility at all times. With that said, as the name implies, an OMS is at its best when there is a service outage. Your team, both in the office and in the field, can take advantage of the rich data accessible through an OMS to respond more quickly and decisively to the trouble, all while keeping your customers in the loop.

This process of technology-aided outage management and service restoration can go even better when every employee has an easy grasp of how the OMS works. This is where a user-friendly OMS can prove its worth.

User-friendliness enables efficient responses

While some workers will interact with the OMS every day, others will mainly log in when conditions are at their worst. For the sake of these team members, an ideal OMS will not be complex to use or have a forbidding learning curve. Intuitive and simple design can help users get up to speed in a hurry, helping them spend less time struggling and more making valuable contributions to service restoration.

Every member of a utility's team has a role to play during an outage response, and many of these duties run through the OMS interface:

  • Office personnel can carry out tasks, such as pinging grid infrastructure to determine its status and mapping issues on a real-time projection of the area.
  • Linemen and other field personnel use the updated data to navigate to trouble spots. Upon resolution of a problem, they can file the work orders and tickets digitally, saving time and promoting accuracy.
  • In the call center, personnel tasked with responding to queries can use information from the OMS to provide highly detailed and accurate real-time reports. When the OMS is linked with an interactive voice response (IVR) system, many calls may be answered before ever needing input from a live operator.

The net effect of all these efficient, automated processes is a quicker and smoother service restoration, boosting customer satisfaction. If the OMS interface is overly complicated, the positive impact is diminished, as personnel may spend too much time relearning how to use the software, or opt to set it aside altogether. Simplified and user-friendly features are therefore worth seeking out.

A simple learning curve encourages better uptake

In the heat of a crisis, the power and effectiveness of a simple OMS interface is clear. As with OMS technology in general, the positive effects of a user-friendly experience can also be felt on an ongoing basis, whether there is an outage occurring or not.

For example, it is easier to encourage linemen to use the mobile features of an OMS if they don't have to struggle with opaque or overly complex systems. Utility field crews have highly specialized skill sets, which they often build over decades of experience. Dropping an unintuitive new piece of technology on these professionals' laps may meet with a muted response and slow uptake.

More carefully developed OMS technology, on the other hand, can encourage quick adoption. The benefits of an OMS lineman app are clear — taking unneeded travel and tedious paperwork out of the work order and ticket system is a major advantage, as is replacing radio-only communication with clear, real-time data sharing. As long as these benefits are easy to comprehend and access, it's more likely that linemen will be receptive to the new tech tool.

Integration capability builds long-term value

Not only should an ideal OMS be easy to use, it should also connect with other important technologies without added difficulty. These connections represent the true power of an OMS when it becomes a central part of a utility's operational tool set.

Connection targets include:

  • IVR: Modern IVR systems give employees a quick and highly automated way to speak with customers through their medium of choice, including voice, email and text. Connecting IVR and OMS enables easy updates, whether a caller is reporting a previously unknown issue or the utility is passing on real-time status data about service.
  • AMI: When advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is linked directly to an OMS, this allows personnel to perform in-depth diagnostics from inside the familiar OMS interface.
  • GIS: Connection between utilities' geographic information systems (GIS) and their OMS tools is the primary way by which personnel map potential and confirmed infrastructure problems onto accurate projections of their surroundings, guiding crews directly to the sites of issues.

When teams have access to a fully integrated and advanced OMS, they can respond to both everyday conditions and emergencies in a coordinated and efficient manner. That OMS should be as user-friendly as possible, to make sure there is no hesitation around using these capabilities, whether an employee is highly experienced with the system or using it for the first time in months.

To learn the true value of OMS for your utility, check out success stories from current dataVoice users.

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