This company Supports the Smart Metering industry, this is a fast-moving environment where new businesses are being set up all of the time along with quite a few failures. The regulators will assign a license to a business to install smart meters and remove the old ones. As the Smart Meter rollout is many years behind schedule, they are always looking for new installers to try and hit the current timescales. There are few barriers to setting up an installation business, all that is required is a minimum number of Gas/Electric engineers and sufficient funding in place to buy the meters and consumables etc. The challenge is that these new businesses do not have the knowledge and experience to set up the systems and processes to enable them to manage the installations successfully
This business was in the Smart Metering business already, holding consignment stocks of meters for a few large installation businesses. The CEO recognised that the market was changing and that lots of new businesses would be starting up to take advantage of these opportunities.
The board decided that they would put themselves in a position to exploit this opportunity by being the “Go To” business for these new start-ups. They would offer all of the systems that these new businesses would need on a rental basis and also train them to manage the process. As a result, these new businesses would be required to buy all of the meters and consumables that they needed for the installs
A new start-up installation business was identified as the first partner, they were in the advanced stages of discussions with the regulators and if successful they would be in a position to begin installations in approximately six months.
The applications and supporting team needed to be available within a very short timescale
- Identify changes required to the current applications to adapt them from a consignment stock system to support a supply chain application.
- Integrate with the regulator that issues the installation jobs
- Integrate with a planning application so that the installs can be arranged
- Integrate with a mobile solution for the installer to provide details of the installation
- Integrate with Suppliers to arrange delivery of the meters to the installers
- Identify potential suppliers for various off-the-shelf solutions
- A Planning and scheduling application.
- A Mobile app for the installers to use.
- Identify integrations required with industry regulators.
What the IT Leader / CIO Did
Led Supplier selection for off-the-shelf solutions.
The Associate took on the role of CIO. They initially identified and reviewed multiple potential suppliers of key applications. After many review sessions and demonstrations, 3 key suppliers were selected:
- A planning application
- This needed to be able to receive thousands of jobs and keep them in a manageable list of jobs being able to be ordered by region, postcode, county etc. They required the ability to “Drag and Drop” the jobs to an engineer calendar for easy allocation. Route planning was also required to minimise the travel of each engineer on a given day. Integrated SMS alerting for the homeowners was crucial.
- A Mobile app provider
- The Mobile App will really be the engineer’s to-do list. The requirements were an app that would run on IOS or Android and could pick up allocated jobs automatically from the planning application. Integration with a mapping app was crucial to allow the engineers to use this to guide them through the jobs. Integration with the regulator to initialise the meters was also a key part of the requirements
- A fulfilment partner that we could integrate with to arrange delivery of the meters to the installers via local lock boxes
- A Weekly supply of meters was needed to be provided to a location close to the engineer’s home to avoid downtime travelling to a location to collect meters. There are quite a few of these fulfilment businesses but these needed to be large industrial secure boxes with a back-end application that would allow integration with the customer’s systems for deliveries and collections.
Designed and delivered the new architecture.
After reviewing the current architecture and goals, a new architecture was designed to incorporate the goals of the new business. These were incorporated with the current application that covered stock holding, purchasing and despatching meters. The application already supported stocking for multiple suppliers
The final high-level process would be as follows:
- Receive jobs from the regulator.
- Plan the installations.
- Contact the homeowners to book in the installations.
- Provide the meters to the installers in time for the installs.
- Complete the installations.
- Update the regulators of the completed jobs.
Day-to-day management of the completed solution
The Associate played an integral role in Developing an internal team that would manage and support the applications daily.
The team provided troubleshooting and training and actively supported the installers in managing their customers and engineers.
Hundreds of jobs would arrive each week, these had to be completed by a quite aggressive timescale, The businesses used the planning and scheduling application to contact the homeowners and agree on a suitable date. This would then be allocated to an installer and the installer would be notified by his mobile app.
The Homeowner would receive SMS alerts of progress i.e., engineer on route, on site etc. Meters would be sent to a locker for the engineer to pick up before the time of the installation. The installation would be performed and the mobile app would communicate in real-time with the regulator to initialise and set the meters up. The old meters would be returned to the locker to be collected.
The Associate created an environment for change and success:
- Partnered with Regulators, Suppliers, and key stakeholders.
- Delivered a SAAS turnkey managed services for the client.
- Successfully developed a new architecture for the business in less than 6 months.
- Successfully built a support team to manage the applications, customers, installers, and regulators.
- Helped to change the business from a consignment stock operator to a supply chain business with a SAAS solution.