Wednesday, January 19, 2011

SAP, Pacific Gas and Electric and ClickSoftware

SAP Workforce Scheduling
 and Optimization
I have been reading recently about how the U.S. military is consolidating data centers around the world.  They want to reduce costs, but also have quicker and faster access to data in a unified view.  This morning I read with interest a case study on how Pacific Gas and Electric had similar goals and ambitions and what they did to accomplish them.
In the past PG&E coordinated crew schedules within the SAP project management application, and had dispatcher teams at each of their 67 local PG&E offices.  However, to improve on the efficiency of the scheduling, PG&E decided to consolidate the dispatching teams to work out of two regional remote management centers in Concord and Fresno, California.

"Having all of this knowledge (in a unified view) gives us the flexibility to reschedule work or move crews to new assignments when we see that changes will benefit our customers," said Jerry Olson, Lead IT Manager at PG&E. "Our goal was to centralize and consolidate the scheduling process out of two offices for our entire service territory, this would help us reach our corporate goals by giving us more control and visibility over how the crews were utilized across the entire company. We also wanted to be able to move crews from one service area to another whenever there was an imbalance with how busy the crews were in each service area, this can only be done through centralized scheduling."

Olson's goals were ambitious when you consider that they manage approximately 1,500 crews consisting of close to 5,000 specialists and provide service to over 50 million gas and electric customers. The solution they chose included the ClickSoftware ServiceOptimization Suite (also sold as the SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization solution) of tools, including ClickSchedule, ClickPlan, ClickAnalyze and ClickForecast integrated with SAP’s work order application.

One of the key requirements that utilities have is the ability to manage work crews during emergencies (weather, accidents and other disasters).  This means that you must have real time visibility into the location and job status of all of your crews at all time.  It also means that you must be able to dynamically change schedules based upon the fast changing real world environments found in the field.  This requires "intra-day" scheduling and mobile communications with those in the field.  Mobile field solutions that are integrated with a centralized scheduling system are required for these kinds of real time and real world requirements.  That is why vendors like ClickSoftware have invested so much into mobile enterprise applications and mobile extensions to enterprise solutions.

Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
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Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.