The client is a fully integrated electric utility in the Midwest, not currently participating in a major organized transmission system. They and other utilities were contemplating entering into an organized system, most likely the Southwest Power Pool. As part of its due diligence for entering into this market, the client requested assistance in understanding how its processes would change and selecting a software system to facilitate that change and efficiently communicate with the system operator.
MidDel provided the expertise to create training sessions to educate client staff how their daily business processes would be impacted after joining the RTO. MidDel then assisted client staff in developing process maps to document current processes that would then be used to build out future state process maps, which document the process activities and data flow in the new environment. MidDel solicited requests for information (RFI) from five software vendors and managed the process from facilitating the product demos through the evaluation to short-listing vendors to submit requests for proposals (RFP). The RFP process consisted of producing demo scripts (including client specific data and processes to replicate), facilitating onsite demos and managing all communications between the client and vendors, creating a requirements traceability matrix (over 800 requirements) including vendor feedback, and facilitating the client’s product and vendor evaluation process.
The approach taken was client-driven, as opposed to vendor-driven, by requiring vendors to adhere to a structured platform for responding to inquiries and product demonstrations with a focus on system capabilities in an attempt to remove the “sales pitch” from the process. This platform facilitated MidDel in discovering the following issues:
- Functionality was presented that was not part of the base solution, but required optional module(s) at an additional cost of approximately $700,000
- A vendor added optional functionality to the base proposal providing a potential savings of over $150,000
- A vendor provided an unrealistic implementation proposal which might have cost the client an additional $450,000
- Requested updated final bids from short-listed vendors resulting in decreases of $250,000 and $300,000 from each
In addition to potential cost savings, strict adherence to the methodology employed identified instances where systems did not perform functions as originally described requiring additional FTEs and/or work arounds outside the system. In some cases, vendors could not perform tasks as requested or they were much more inefficient than expected. Intensive Q&A throughout the demos also provided the client with a baseline for how they could anticipate their working relationship with the vendor might progress.
The client was extremely impressed with the level of knowledge and project management skills and tools MidDel brought to this project. The detailed requirements put forth to vendors for demonstrating product functionality resulted in a substantial shift in perceptions from the initial RFI demos of each system’s capabilities to meet the client’s business needs. This shift prevented the client from potentially choosing a system that would have been much more difficult and expensive to implement and maintain going forward.
Upon conclusion of this project, MidDel was immediately requested to submit a proposal for ongoing services to assist with the system implementation, provide additional RTO operational training, and provide guidance for generation asset optimization.