The Copperleaf® Decision Analytics Solution is now live at Powerco, New Zealand’s second-largest electricity and gas distribution utility with approximately 1.1 million customers across 446,000 connections. We spoke to Kathryn Gillum, Investment Optimisation Manager at Powerco, and Daniel Lawson, Senior Consultant at Copperleaf, to get their thoughts on the implementation and how it has helped Powerco on its asset management journey.
Can you share a little bit about your role at Powerco?
Kathryn: “As the Investment Optimisation Manager within the Asset Strategy and Investment team, a key part of my role is ensuring Powerco’s electricity investment plans (capital and operating expenditure) achieve the optimal balance between meeting the requirements of our customers, shareholders, and the regulators, and the technical needs needed to run a safe, reliable network.”
What were your main goals for this project?
Kathryn: “At its heart, this project was about advancing Powerco’s ability to make the “right” decisions about how to deploy our valuable resources. The key objectives were to maximize value to both our customers and shareholders and help ensure the long-term sustainability of our business. To support these objectives, the primary goal of this project was to provide Powerco with the framework and tools to enable a shift to value-based decision making for network investments.”
Powerco employees celebrate the go live with a special gift from Copperleaf. The significance of New Zealand’s All Blacks jersey is to say thank you for making Copperleaf feel like we’re part of the Powerco team, and the Vancouver Canucks jersey is our way of saying welcome to the Copperleaf Community.
What were the key things you felt made the project successful?
Kathryn: “Early and ongoing engagement with key stakeholders, strong executive support, and a shared vision. The project was business led with strong and dedicated support from Powerco’s Information Services team.”
Daniel: “We leveraged the Copperleaf Value Model Library to develop the Powerco Value Framework. The library models incorporate Copperleaf best practices from our client base and helped vastly accelerate the development of the value framework for Powerco.”
Copperleaf was very responsive and supportive, and showed a genuine desire to see Powerco succeed in not only completing implementation, but delivering a result that meets our business needs.
Investment Optimisation Manager
What are the key benefits you think you’ll get out of implementing the Copperleaf solution?
Kathryn: “Copperleaf’s Decision Analytics solution provides Powerco with:
- A consistent and transparent approach to making informed network investment decisions, that reflects our customers’ requirements and Powerco’s values and objectives
- The assurance of long-term sustainability of our business—by ensuring our network investment plans deliver the lowest risk and highest value to our customers and shareholders, within the resource constraints we face
- A strong means for validating our investment plans to external stakeholders, in particular the regulators
- A solid foundation to support ongoing advancements in our asset management capabilities and strategies”
Daniel: “It’s also worth noting that both gas and electricity business units are using a common process. We integrated Copperleaf’s system with Powerco’s WorkBox which pushes our reports to SharePoint, allowing Powerco staff to view the latest project information.”
Have there been any other added benefits?
Kathryn: “Added benefits include the ability to retire our legacy planning systems, the reduction of administrative tasks, and streamlining of workflows.”
How would you describe the experience you had working with Copperleaf?
Kathryn: “Copperleaf was very responsive and supportive, and showed a genuine desire to see Powerco succeed in not only completing implementation, but delivering a result that meets our business needs. Any problems raised were quickly met by a range of potential solutions.”
Copperleaf is heavily invested in Powerco’s long-term success. We believe their success is our success.
This is one of the first implementations that has been delivered remotely due to COVID-19. How did you find that process? Did it work well for your team?
Kathryn: “The change to remote delivery part way through the project had both upsides and downsides. Powerco’s offices are geographically diverse so having remote workshops required less coordination, enabled greater timing flexibility, and allowed for more people to be involved. The Australian-based Copperleaf team was also very accommodating when managing the time differences with a number of early starts. On the downside, end users that prefer classroom-based learning found self-led remote training a challenge, and sometimes there is no good substitute for face-to-face conversations.
Despite the challenges, COVID-19 has had no material impact on project schedule or quality—something that all those involved should be proud of.”
Daniel: “For training, we developed a variety of tools including training videos and online quizzes specific to the Powerco configuration. The online quiz results were reviewed by application champions to gauge the effectiveness of training.”
What’s next on your asset management journey?
Kathryn: “We recognize that we have a lot of work to do to realize the full benefits. A key focus will be on validating and calibrating all the components of our Value Framework, which include our suite of condition-based asset models. Immediate plans to support our implementation include the addition of Copperleaf’s Predictive Analytics capability and we will also be working on an ETL (extract, transform, load) solution to automatically refresh asset data. One of the next big steps on our asset management journey is working towards ISO 50001 accreditation in 2021.”
Daniel: “We are also planning to build integrations with Powerco’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) hub data lake in the future. This future-phase integration will allow us to push regular asset data updates to the Copperleaf system, and access Powerco’s analytics data from one source.”
What’s one word you would use to describe what it was like working with Copperleaf?
Learn more about how Copperleaf clients have been able to improve their business outcomes in our client success stories.