Everything comes back to data
Delivering everything from natural gas to water to electricity, utility companies play one of the most important roles in a modern economy. And in that role, their ability to receive and apply accurate and usable data from their service providers is vital to keeping the lights on and the taps flowing for the millions of businesses and consumers who rely on them.
While many utility companies are implementing initiatives to digitize their daily workflow and other processes, such as smart meters and microgrids, to help deliver more consistent, safe and reliable services to their customers, a new report from TrackVia shows their service providers are seriously lagging behind.
TrackVia, in partnership with PA Consulting, surveyed 200 utilities about the impact of service providers’ manual data collection and processes on utility companies, as well as their expectations around digitization moving forward. The survey uncovered the continued prevalence of manual processes, leading to time-consuming and costly data entry, reporting, and auditing, as well as the inability to quickly access accurate information to address outages and customer service issues.
Manual processes – the black hole of productivity
According to the report, 86 percent of utilities rely on the data from their service providers for asset information, a crucial part of their daily operations. Despite its importance, 63 percent of service providers are still using manual processes, such as paper forms and Word and Excel documents to share data and reporting. For operations with employees numbering in the thousands, manually transcribing figures and data into spreadsheets or, worse yet, with pen and paper can add up to enormous costs in redundant labor and project delays.
Utilities are left to clean up the mess
Sixty-eight percent of utilities say they spend more than an hour each day keying manually received data and reports into their systems, with more than half (53%) required to enter the data in two to three separate systems.
While 80 percent said time-consuming reporting and auditing is a top concern, the real-life impact of these manual processes can be seen during emergency response efforts when utilities need to act fast to respond to an outage. More than two-thirds of respondents (65 percent) said they lack timely information that can impact outage management and customer service when it’s most critical.
Jeopardizing safety and compliance
With the integrity of things like electric grids and natural gas lines at stake, utilities need to be accountable and highly responsive to regulatory and safety authorities. Unfortunately, 44 percent of utilities said it would take service providers days or weeks to respond with information for audits on safety and compliance. A lack of accessible data can contribute to more dangerous situations for utilities and overall, compromise operational integrity.
Utilities to providers – “get on board”
Factoring in cost, safety and the amount of time wasted entering data manually, utilities are putting pressure on service providers. Sixty-one percent said it was very important that their providers automate data collection, processes, and reporting, and that automation will be required to do business with them. More telling is the fact that more than half (54 percent) said they plan to reduce their costs by requiring service providers to digitize data collection, workflows, and reporting.
Read the full report to learn more about how firms reduce risk and avoid costs by digitizing field and office operations.
About TrackVia: TrackVia®, the leading low-code workflow management platform for operations, helps companies build applications that improve on-time performance and reduce costs. TrackVia offers operations leaders the fastest and easiest way to build powerful applications that are business led and IT-approved. Companies like Danella Companies, RP Construction Services, Blue Ridge Cable Technologies, Downer Group, rely on TrackVia to digitize their operations. Learn more at: https://www.trackvia.com.