Assessment of Commercial Operations Systems and Processes

Issue

The client operates an impressive portfolio of assets, consisting of hydro, wind, solar, and one thermal resource, across both the RTO and bilateral North American markets. Management of power markets, requires a wide-ranging combination of different people, processes, technology, and data to support the business objectives and the market requirements.

At the beginning of operations ten years ago, the client selected a technology suite of products to meet the needs of the original energy trading operations and transactional management requirements. Since then, their operations have expanded into new energy markets and trading products, in addition to recent acquisitions. These changes have resulted in the front office experiencing challenges in meeting the new and additional business requirements with the original suite of products and the functionality that they support.

This situation required the client to create numerous workarounds outside the system to address the lack of supported functionality. Traders and schedulers have been reporting that the current tools are cumbersome, inefficient, and inhibiting the client's ability to expand into new markets.

Solution

MidDel Consulting was engaged to perform an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the current front office's processes and tools, including the existing suite of products and the related ecosystem. In the assessment, MidDel also identified alternative technology systems for the client to consider, to meet their requirements and growth objectives more effectively.

Result

To effectively evaluate the front office and tools, MidDel Consulting conducted 35 interviews with both the client’s leadership and the front, mid and back-office staff who are performing the key business functions using the systems and tools, as well as the IT staff performing support functions. MidDel also conducted 14 independent shadow sessions with the front office to observe and assess the actual business functionality coverage being performed by the tools and systems as being used.

MidDel performed the assessment across 27 key business functional activities comprising the core requirements of an energy trading operation. MidDel’s assessment revealed the following:

  • 78% of all key business functional requirements were not performed by using the current system or required significant workaround toolsets and manual interventions.
  • 0% of daily position, operational P&L reporting, and market analysis was being performed by using the current system.

As part of this evaluation, MidDel also determined the “true” cost impact of the system not meeting the client’s business needs by computing the additional man-hours being consumed to perform the extensive and often manual workarounds every day to maintain and operate their assets. MidDel then provided three alternative solution approaches to the client:

  • Solution focused on resolving system discrepancies and reducing costs within the current system.
  • Solution to invest in enhancing current system to increase core requirement coverage and reduce number of hours of inefficiencies in performing manual workarounds.
  • Solution involving a system replacement to close requirement gaps, improve efficiencies and reduce overall costs.

The main benefits of the solutions identified were:

  • 9,700 hours annual reduction of manual activities
  • $1.5MM annual cost savings from efficiency gains
  • $800k annual reduction in license and maintenance fees through conversion to a more modern system