Fission Plant, Technology Fusion
When employees weren’t using a critical ERP interface, the approach began with learning their requirements
An electric power utility company with more than 14 million customers needed to increase adherence to the reporting requirements of its new ERP system. The problem was centered in its nuclear generating facility, where safety and regulatory concerns made reporting especially important. Deloitte helped the client identify the user interface as the weak point, took the users’ requirements as the starting point for a bottom-up design process that created a new interface just for them, and then implemented it by bridging two software products that hadn’t been paired before. Compliance with reporting requirements went up, training costs went down, and the compliance function became less costly for the utility.
The company had recently implemented a new ERP system across the enterprise. In the company’s one nuclear power generating station, employees were finding the new system made the federally mandated reporting and cataloguing of problems too cumbersome. Data came from disparate sources with different reporting modes. There were too many screens, too many clicks and no overall dashboard. These problems were delaying adoption of the system and keeping employees from using it, which left some reportable data out of the system and seemed to jeopardize the facility’s compliance rating.
Undoing the recent ERP implementation for one function at one site could interfere with enterprise-wide integration. Forcing the issue with employees was not a practical solution either: More than 6,000 people were affected, almost half of whom were contract workers who hadn’t received full onboarding but still had to perform critical jobs during refueling and other outages.
The challenge was to help create an efficient interface designed to satisfy the front-end requirements of the users of the system, gather their input in a workable and holistic way, and translate it to the broader requirements of the company ERP system.
Our team didn’t start by building interface screens. We started by working alongside the users to understand the patterns of engagement that would drive their use of a new interface.
From this user-centric starting point, we facilitated multiple iterations of the user design. This was a deviation from standard ERP implementation practice, but it allowed us to refine the users’ requirements and give them the exact look and feel of the application before finalizing the design. Deloitte also set out to help the client create a streamlined notification process to simplify and strengthen nuclear plant maintenance operations.
Deloitte was able to staff the project with consultants who brought the necessary skills from across many disciplines: people and process change management, business and industry knowledge, and technology experience. We included people well-versed in security and strategy alongside the people/process/technology professionals to address the different requirements of a nuclear plant. This allowed us to mount a full-lifecycle, end-to-end team that didn’t require third-party assistance. We gave key focus to consultants who had prior experiences in the plant maintenance process area.
Deloitte’s technology consultants helped the client to implement a new front end while maintaining the existing back end. The logic of this application was easy to see, but it had not been done this way before. Integrating this particular front-end solution with the company’s existing ERP put our people in the role of integration pioneers.
The result was a simple, intuitive interface designed so that employees could use it with no training. It integrated data from different systems into one screen, saving time and reducing complexity and redundancy.
Because of these improvements, the rate of reporting noteworthy system issues increased dramatically, and the facility maintained its rating. The staff also underwent an attitude improvement, which manifested in increased attendance and more broad participation in training sessions.
Technology can introduce new capabilities and efficiency into an organization from the top down, but adapting that technology to the processes that need it and the people who use it works better when it comes from the bottom up. This implementation reflected Deloitte’s philosophy that approaches should be “business-led, technology-enabled.”
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