A trio from Puget Sound Energy covered a series of customer and field service improvement projects with SAP technology at the core for an SRO audience at last month’s ASUG Best Practices: SAP for Utilities conference.

The session, which included recent progress improving emergency services in fire and flood situations, described PSE’s customer-focused “Get to 0” campaign, aimed at zero customer complaints and Integrated Work Management (IWM) elements. in Bellevue, Washington, PSE is the largest electricity and gas provider in the state, with 3,000 employees serving 1.2 million customers in 10 service areas.

Bill Esser, PSE SAP Senior IT Analyst, walked through the basics of PSE’s shift. His topics ranged from paper-based manual processes, using maps and work orders, to Microsoft Windows-based mobile devices and new applications used by field service personnel to quickly synchronize with centralized work order data.

“SAP is the foundation, SAP is the middle of everything, Work Manager operations, optimizing work scheduling, Work Manager schedule, the mobile workforce,” Esser said, noting later that PSE is currently on SAP ECC 6.0 and just beginning to plan its SAP S/4HANA upgrade.

Business and Partner Support

Esser conveyed that early project phases, which involved partner support from Accenture as well as important PSE business leader support, show productivity gains. He said, prior to the changes, service personnel spent three hours each day in office to optimize schedules for five hours of work in the field. Now a short, simple stop in the office to upload and align service info and schedules gets personnel to more customers more efficiently each day.

“We give confidence to the service team who make a commitment to make an appointment, that they have the information they need, and [for the customer] that service people will be there,” said Kahn Nguyen, SAP Senior IT Analyst, and member of the speaker trio.

The team also listed additional features and improvements in the project, including the use of ClickSoftware’s ClickSchedule to schedule follow-up work, such as an engineering review for an existing customer; the ability to add and edit attachments on job, such as technical documentation; adding visual indicators to show appointment date and time commitment on a map; and the ability to sort work orders based on category to better manage work load or prioritize work based on problem type.

Important to Day-to-Day Operations

“These may seem like simple things, but they are important for day-to-day operations,” Esser said.

Also of increased importance are utility response times and safety procedures, especially in natural or manufactured disasters. PSE’s Shereyas Shah, SAP Senior IT Analyst, said the company has developed an “automated storm mode” system to replace a manual process for storm scenarios. SAP-based systems now track, analyze, and prioritize responses to storm damage across the utility’s operating districts.

The trio also highlighted a cross-business communications and collaboration system implemented to connect processes and safety concerns when PSE’s Gas and Electric works teams were at work near each other.

“We integrated departments that were not talking to each other,” Shah said. “Even though these teams are within the same company, they need to talk to each other to have awareness of issues that are safety critical.”

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