In this, the third, final (and longest) post of my three-part series, I focus on quality, security, and value-add services you may want to consider as part of your tender. As with my previous posts, even if you already have a smart metering partner, these are useful discussions to have with them. The conversations I recommend you have with your current or potential partner go beyond what I have described in these three posts. If you are interested in understanding more you can buy my book here. Picking up where we left off…
17 Testing and Defect Management
Be explicit with regards to the role a vendor is to play in the testing and defect resolution process, what service levels they need to work to, and who pays for what.
18 Cyber Security
Cyber Security has many elements to it. The following two questions help you immediately understand how serious a vendor is about Cyber Security. Ask the vendor to:
- Provide the roles and names of the people in their organisation responsible for designing cyber security into the products and services, and those responsible for ensuring compliance with those designs.
- Confirm acceptance from the Vendor that you can engage a third-party security assessor to perform physical and logical attacks on all components of their solution in an attempt to penetrate them, and that they will agree to remediate vulnerabilities at their own cost.
19 Edge Processing
We would encourage the following line of questioning if you are considering Edge Processing (which I recommend you do). Ask the vendor to:
- Describe its edge processing capabilities and show its architecture.
- Demonstrate how it uses edge processing to deliver services.
- Describe how third parties can develop applications to run on the meter and describe how this works, what partners do they have, and what applications have been developed.
- Confirm this applies to both meters and field network devices.
20 Customer Information Systems (CIS)
Changes to, and integration with, the CIS are inevitable. Ask the vendor to:
- Provide examples of where they have implemented their solution at another Utility that has the same CIS and integration architecture as you.
- Describe the end to end architecture and describe the information flow between the meter and CIS, and vice versa.
21 Meter Data Management (MDM)
Whether performed in the headend, a dedicated MDMS, or the CIS, the meter data needs to be managed somewhere. Ask the vendor to:
- Describe which MDM functions will be performed by their proposed solution and which need to be performed by other applications.
- Provide examples of where they have integrated into the same MDM architecture as you are planning.
22 Outage Management
Reduction in outages is often high on the list of benefits, but that means integration with the Outage Management System (OMS). Ask the vendor to:
- Describe which OMS vendors they partner with.
- Provide examples of projects where their solution has been integrated with an OMS.
- Describe the challenges associated with integrating their solution with the OMS.
- Is the cost of integrating with your OMS included in their proposal?
23 Power Quality
Vendors will say their smart meters support power quality. However, power quality depends on the type, granularity, and latency of data being captured. Be clear what data you require from the meter, how granular that data needs to be, and how quickly it needs to get into its back-office systems to be of value – and can the vendor meet these requirements?
24 Digital Channels
If the smart metering vendor is offering you ‘value-add’ digital channels, engage those responsible in your organization for the overall digital strategy and digital architecture before including it in scope. You need to determine whether your digital requirements should be included in the tender for smart metering solutions, or be delivered by other solutions/vendors.
25 Analytics (Grid & Customer)
Focus on identifying which analytic services you need. As with Digital Channels, engage the experts within your business such as the internal business intelligence and enterprise architecture teams. They will be best positioned to help determine if the requirements should be included in the tender scope, or can be better met another way.
The last 3 posts have hopefully stimulated some thought as to the discussions you should be having with current or potential smart metering partners. Your purchasing decisions have enterprise-wide implications that will be felt for many years.
Are you taking the time to think what questions you should be asking when selecting your long term smart metering partner?
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