Developing a Technology Work Plan (TWP) is a critical step when deciding how to advance a utility’s automation, IT, and communications infrastructure. The TWP uncovers gaps between your utility’s present and desired future states and aligns applications and technologies to best fill each gap. The TWP also addresses poorly performing technologies, prioritizes deployment, defines integration strategies, and calculates the budget. Before spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on technology, it is smart to take a step back and look carefully at your present state, future state, gaps, and strategic goals (such as increased reliability or reduced costs).

Below is a diagram that outlines the technology planning process PSE utilizes for maximum results:

 As part of a TWP, a utility would:

  • Address core enabling technologies, such as communications, IT, and security that would be needed near- to long-term
  • Identify technologies to deploy and the sequence in which to deploy them
  • Identify what technologies/vendors integrate well
  • Create buy-in from the various departments and collectively agree on the priorities
  • Identify how to get the most benefit from existing technology
  • Develop well thought out strategies concerning hosting the applications in the cloud or hosting locally at the utility
  • Help avoid stranded investments
  • Developing a staff resource plan to best address new technology investments
  • Summarize your technology budget/schedule for a five-year period

PSE has found that, in most cases, the cost of developing a TWP is less than one percent of a utility’s capital cost to purchase the technology. A plan also supports collaboration from a team, as opposed to a single staff member advocating for a technology. The team makes educated decisions based on information received on program capabilities, vendor integrations, current and future system needs, and, in some cases, cost-benefit analysis.

What can happen without a technology work plan?

Sometimes poor technology decisions can be made if you don’t have a plan, such as:

  • Not selecting programs that are most needed – for example, if the major goal is improved reliability, then why make major investments in productivity improvement areas?
  • Purchasing systems that don’t integrate
  • Having much shorter life cycle with major automation investments, and not having a scalable IT infrastructure
  • Implementing a technology without taking into account how future systems will work with the new system

PSE recommends that you consider creating a TWP soon, if you haven’t already, to keep your utility on track and focused.

Our Technology Work Plan Experts

Ken Cooper

Utility Automation Consultant

Kyle Kopczyk

Manager of Utility Automation

Tom Asp

Consultant in Utility Automation and Communications

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