Internal process efficiency, emergency response, customer satisfaction. These variables — and more — are worth focusing on in a utility setting. What if you could boost them all with a single technology investment?
When you're planning your utility organization's next technology investment, you shouldn't overlook the potential that comes with a new outage management system. Since today's utility technology is deeply interconnected, a new OMS reaches all departments and teams, and can have both internal and external value for your organization. This applies whether you're a provider of electricity, water, waste water or fiber services.
Consider a new OMS in the context of organizational value, and its advantages stack up quickly.
Internal advantages of better outage management
"Outage management system" is a bit of a misnomer. You don't have to wait for an outage for a modern OMS to start providing value. Having more detailed information about your assets is valuable at all times. Sending a remote ping to see if a piece of infrastructure is functioning as necessary can save the time and effort of sending a field crew to investigate. Combining incoming data from systems such as geographic information systems and advanced metering infrastructure creates quicker workflows in the office. You don't have to wait for an outage.
The growth of infrastructure, especially the power grid in the electricity sector, has made everyday utility management tasks more complex than ever. The latest Markets and Markets report on demand for new OMS tools confirmed that growing customer demand for energy is driving adoption. Utilities are also seeking to provide more consistent service with fewer interruptions. This means an OMS isn't just an investment in a reactive system for responding to issues, but rather a key piece of proactive improvements.
Handling an outage with a modern OMS
Of course, reminders of ongoing OMS value shouldn't take away from these technologies' importance as crisis-management tools. When it is time to coordinate a response to a service disruption or interruption, a modern OMS shows its true potential.
Speed of service restoration is determined by a number of factors. First, there is the team's ability to trace the accurate source of the issue. An OMS puts this information in office employees' hands, taking data from infrastructure and plotting the results on a real-time map. Next, crews have to convey the data to lineman crews in the field. This is also easier with OMS, as the field personnel can log in on their mobile devices and get the information directly, rather than relying on a phone or radio call.
Once repairs have been completed, the OMS once again creates quicker and more efficient workflows. Field personnel can close out service tickets and work orders without reporting back to the office, saving time and decreasing the risk of data entry errors or omissions. Office personnel can also use their ability to ping infrastructure to determine whether maintenance has had the intended effect and the grid is back up.
Customer satisfaction with an outage management system
The more effective workflows that come with an OMS don't just add value by making your team members more productive and confident in their roles. The smoother and faster service restorations can please your customers, delivering reputation benefits for your organization.
In some ways, it's easy to understand how an OMS assists with the customer experience. If your team knows the exact location of a trouble spot and makes repairs quickly and completely, the service interruption will be shorter and your clients less inconvenienced. Giving your customers reliable service, even in the face of aging or potentially unreliable infrastructure, is a straightforward way to win their trust.
The other advantages of a modern OMS come from its close integration with customer-facing technologies such as interactive voice response (IVR) solutions. Connecting the OMS to resources and messaging services checked by consumers allows you to give quick, accurate answers to their questions, sometimes without even needing an employee to respond.
A Deloitte report on the future of utility consumers revealed that people are increasingly looking for personalized and relevant updates from utilities regarding the status of their service. They want to be able to learn information on platforms of their choice, including email and text. OMS and IVR make up a potent combination for meeting and exceeding these expectations.
Outage management in electric, water and fiber utilities
OMS technology isn't just for one corner of the utility provider landscape. No matter the service you offer your consumers, and whether you operate on a public, private or co-operative model, you can implement a modern OMS. Each type of utility has its own challenges to face, from aging power grid and water main infrastructure to the constant roll-out of new resources in the fiber space.
If legacy technology is keeping your team from reaching its full potential, whether in terms of everyday operations, outage response or customer care, you have plenty to gain from investigating the benefits of OMS.