ERP software can be complex, but especially so in the energy, utilities, oil, and gas industry. With all the talk of clean and renewable energy, it’s interesting that not as much has been said about how these new energy companies, along with existing energy firms, are going to handle the changes and complexities of their industry.
Energy companies are unique in that they involve complex and diverse requirements when compared to other industries. Fixed asset management, work management, field service management, geographical information systems, CRM, and trouble management are just some of the varying needs that somehow need to be integrated together. Not all enterprise solutions handle these diverse needs, so it can be a challenge finding an ERP system that can effectively handle all of these areas.
So where is an energy company to start when evaluating potential enterprise systems? Below are six of the key areas to explore when choosing and implementing an ERP system:
Six Key Areas for Focus for High Voltage ERP Software
- Enterprise asset management. Energy companies are extremely asset intensive. Whether it’s building a new power plant or performing maintenance on an energy substation, ERP software needs to be able to track construction, maintenance, and cost of these assets.
- Support geospatial data. Another unique factor within the energy industry is the reliance on geospatial data. Relatively straight forward data such as assets, inventory, exploration, field service crews, and maintenance need to be managed spatially, which increases the data complexities of enterprise software. This is one of the more difficult challenges for many ERP solutions, which is a key reason why energy companies commonly bolt-on separate GIS solutions to their core enterprise software.
- Engineering and graphical work design. When building and maintaining the plants and other fixed assets required to run energy companies, an opportunity for efficiency lies in leveraging enterprise software to more effectively manage engineering processes. Engineering designs for fixed assets require careful tracking of work orders, materials management, and other critical points in the supply chain.
- Trouble and outage management. One of the biggest headaches for energy companies is outages on their infrastructure. Therefore, they need to not only track trouble tickets, but also track those orders to assets and other geospatial data elements.
- Work management and field service management. As is the case with telecommunication companies, energy organizations need to manage work orders for building new assets, conducting periodic maintenance, and establishing new service for customers. These work orders need to tie to the asset management, geospatial, mobile workforce management, and customer systems, which makes the process that much more complex.
- CRM, customer service, and billing. Energy companies typically have diverse customers, ranging from other distribution companies and end customers. In addition to basic customer relationship information, such as customer service, billing, and account management, these functions need to integrate with outage management and work management processes.
Since there is no silver bullet to find enterprise software that meets all of these varying requirements, it is important for energy companies to clearly define their operational needs, what makes them different from other energy companies, and select an ERP system accordingly. It is also important to acknowledge that a single ERP system may not handle all of your unique requirements, so it is helpful to also consider potential bolt-ons for some of the above areas. These areas should all be considered when evaluating ERP software for the energy, utilities, oil, and gas industry.
If you are a utilities or energy company and new ERP software is in consideration, contact one of Panorama’s ERP consultants to discover more about Panorama’s ERP selection and implementation service offering.