Utilities Survey says manual processes inhibit customer service, outage response

April 23, 2019
Results show 65 percent lack timely, accurate information from their service providers.

DENVER, CO, APRIL 23, 2019 – A new survey of 200 utility providers found that 65 percent lack timely, accurate information from their service providers that impacts outage management and customer service. This is attributed to the continued reliance on error-prone manual data collection, reporting, and workflows with less than a quarter (23 percent) reporting their service providers are fully digitized.

The research ( http://bit.ly/TVUtilitiesSurveyReport ), released by TrackVia and PA Consulting, was announced today in a new report entitled Manual Processes Amid Utility Service Providers – A Survey Report from the Utilities' Perspective . Sixty-three percent said that their service providers use manual processes to collect and share data and reporting, including paper forms and Word and Excel documents. As a result, 61 percent said they would require service providers to digitize their processes and cite the importance of automation moving forward.

"Having immediate access to accurate, reliable data from service providers is critical for utilities," said Ross Smith, digital utility expert at PA Consulting. "But these manual processes inevitably introduce quality issues, thus creating problems for outage and crew management, customer service, as well as finance and accounting. Providing uninterrupted, cost-effective service is a main priority for utilities, and manual processes are inhibiting their ability to do so."

When manual processes are used by service providers, utilities heighten their risks for error and timeliness because the data must be inputted manually (33 percent). In fact, only 35 percent said the asset/as-built information from their service providers is only sometimes accurate.

Utility providers are looking for ways to increase efficiency – digitizing is a key strategy to accomplish this. More than half (54 percent) of utility providers said they plan to control their costs by requiring service providers to digitize data collection, workflows, and reporting.

"As utilities digitize their own processes, they are increasingly looking outward to see what investments their service providers are making," said Smith . "Low-code solutions like TrackVia offer utilities and service providers alike an opportunity to take rapid steps toward realizing these benefits – without significant investment in new corporate solutions or complex integrations with legacy IT."

This shift would dramatically reduce the time it takes for service providers to capture and relay critical data – whether that be internally or to the utility. This helps ensure that all parties can act in minutes instead of hours or even days, and do so based on accurate, up-to-date information.

Other findings from the report include: 44% said it would take service providers days or weeks to respond with information for audits on safety and compliance; 53% said when data is received manually from service providers, it must be manually inputted into 2-3 systems; 29% said it requires more than 3 hours per day to input data and reports into their systems when data is received manually from service providers.

"TrackVia helps utilities and service providers improve the quality and timeliness of information by digitizing manual processes and integrating with distribution operations platforms," said Walker Fenton, senior vice president of product at TrackVia. "By integrating with these core systems, TrackVia eliminates re-keying information into multiple systems thereby improving accuracy, speed, and reliability across critical departments."

TrackVia surveyed over 200 executives and managers at utilities providers in January 2019. To download the report, visit: (http://bit.ly/TVUtilitiesSurveyReport)

About PA Consulting
An innovation and transformation consultancy, we believe in the power of ingenuity to build a positive human future in a technology-driven world. As strategies, technologies and innovation collide, we create opportunity from complexity. Our diverse teams of experts combine innovative thinking and breakthrough technologies to progress further, faster. Our clients adapt and transform, and together we achieve enduring results. Learn more at www.paconsulting.com

About TrackVia
TrackVia, the leading low-code workflow 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 Stearns Lending, Honeywell, and DIRECTV rely on TrackVia to digitize their operations. Learn more at https://www.trackvia.com.

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