Avista’s Project Compass: Updating Three Integrated Systems Simultaneously
Avista Utilities decided to upgrade their twenty-year-old customer information system (CIS) that they use to assist their 680,000 electric and natural gas customers that live within their service territory of more than 30,000 square miles. With the advent of evolving industry technology products and services, the maturing and changing workforce, and usable and less expensive off-the-shelf solutions, Avista determined that their homegrown CIS, work management system, and electric and gas meter application were so tightly integrated that it made sense to replace all three at once. They partnered with IntelliTect, who provided technical leadership, architecture, and integration services.
The tight integration between Avista’s systems made the CIS replacement challenging. Updating the systems meant replacing the integration with the existing financial database as well as integrating both systems with a new asset management system. Avista settled on a three-phase project, called Project Compass: (Phase 1) technology decision and selection, (Phase 2) system integration, and (Phase 3) quality control and stabilization. Given the magnitude of the challenge, Avista selected IntelliTect early on in the process to help determine solutions as well as the selection of other partners. IntelliTect was also chosen to lead Phase 2, system integration. What was particularly attractive about IntelliTect was their wealth of utility industry experience coupled with their deep technical expertise, especially with integrations.
During Phase 1 of Project Compass, the Avista team selected the Oracle Customer Care and Billing (CC&B) system to replace the outdated customer information system and IBM’s Maximo to replace the work management and electric and natural gas meter systems. IntelliTect designed and implemented the architectural and system integration solutions, managed a mixed team of HP and IntelliTect engineers to implement the integrations, designed automated testing and deployment of the technology, and resolved escalated issues that arose during development. The scope of the project involved 120 separate integrations between line-of-business and custom systems including, CC&B, Maximo, Ventyx, Oracle EBS, ESRI’s ArcGIS, and many more.
Two significant challenges were facing the Avista and IntelliTect data integration teams:
- Understanding the end-to-end business process: This involved understanding the functionality of distributing data across multiple systems, as well as understanding the role of each user in the process.
- Processing and interpreting the data: How is the data going to be consumed? What data must be made available within and among different systems?
IntelliTect, in collaboration with business and functional leaders, determined that the following integrations were needed.
Bill payment management
- Interface with external agencies to process customer payments and manage collection activities
- Provide access to online bill images
- Manage automated customer communications
- Interface with the Avista’s online customer portal
- Deliver accounting information between and among the asset management system, the CIS, and the financial system
- Deliver inventory and supply chain management transactions between the asset management and Oracle financial system
Meter reading management
- Interface with several different meter reading systems to provide accurate billing information
- Interface with the existing outage management system to support system health
- Provide outage information to customers and customer service representatives
- Ensure that all systems are and remain current
- Interface with timekeeping and payroll systems to provide labor transactions
- Control the workflow among the customer information, asset management, and mobile dispatch systems
The project team consisted of from 125 to 150 managers, business analysts, developers, documentation and training specialists. During the height of the project, this number included thirty IntelliTect employees.
IntelliTect developed and implemented the integrated solution between the Oracle Customer Care and Billing system (CC&B), Maximo Asset Management system, and the Oracle Financial system, providing more than 120 specific integrations to meet the target go-live date of February 2015. IntelliTect engineers and quality control personnel remained on the project past the initial release, creating new integrations to support Avista and ensuring stability and operational efficiency of the system’s infrastructure.
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