In my last post, I covered the discussion points to have with vendors for strategic alignment and governance.  In this post, the second of a three-part series, I place the lens over the smart metering solution itself.  If you already have a smart metering partner, these are useful discussions to have with them so you can course-correct before you hit any major issues. Picking up where we left off….

  1. Validate what the vendor’s offer delivers.  Too often the sales guys make bold promises that can be somewhat misleading. Delve deeper, you need to determine if that capability is in scope or will it cost extra? You need to determine if that capability even exists, or if it is a future roadmap item. Ask the vendor to demonstrate what is in scope.
  2. Known Defects. Ask what defects the product has. Does the vendor know the cause, and when are they planning to fix them?  You need to understand what the impact is of these defects on your operations as you may need to live with a workaround for a while.
  3. Standards.  Vendors will wheel out references to global standards, but they may add zero value to you.  Get specific and as well as asking if they comply with industry standards, understand why those standards are important to you and ask the vendor to demonstrate how they meet your requirement.
  4. Regulatory Compliance. There will be a range of regulatory requirements, some unique to you. If the vendor is not fully compliant at the time of tendering, make sure you reach an agreement describing what happens if they fail to achieve regulatory compliance.
  5. Health & Safety. Vendors will comply with global and even local health and safety standards, but do they comply with the story you plan to tell?  For example, if your message to the community is that the emissions of your network devices will not exceed that of home Wi-Fi, then this needs to be part of your specification to the vendor.
  6. Training & Documentation. Often, vendors are expecting to provide out of the box product documentation and a light touch train-the-trainer approach, possibly with a few videos.  The Utility however needs documentation that is relevant to their operations and specific implementation of the product with ongoing support.  Be clear on what you need in order to effectively operationalize your workforce.
  7. Service Levels Getting service levels wrong can cost you dearly, think carefully about them, how will they be measured, how will you fund operational tasks where service levels are being met, and how will you fund operational tasks when they are not? Examples of this are given here.
  8. Business Rules.  You will need to make business rule decisions that are totally new to you, or mean breaking the way you have done something for years. For example, if you capture the register data from the meter, you need to manage the configuration of that register in every meter. With a smart meter, just pull back the interval data and leave your back-end system to perform the smarts. Ask the vendor to provide the most common business rules they see other Utilities making when optimizing their smart meter operations.
  9. Business Process Design. Smart metering vendors claim that their systems are built to be configurable, but they are still designed to work in a certain way.  Ask your vendor to describe how they expect business processes to work to get the most from their solution.
  10. Integration.  Be clear on the role of the smart metering vendor and ask them to describe how they will export and import the data and commands you want.  Take this information to your IT team to confirm this meets their expectations.

In my third and final post of the series I will talk more about asking the right questions and having the hard conversations with the vendors early, to avoid pain later.

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In our book ‘utilidocs™, building blocks to a Digital Utility’ we have expanded on these 25 services.  Get your paperback or kindle version here.

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#connectedera #digitalutility #smartmeters #demandresponse #opendata

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Contact me to find out how we can help you get the most from smart metering, demand response, and behind-the-meter technologies.

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