Top 4 Outage Management System Headaches and How to Solve Them

Transmission outage management is a highly complex and complicated process because there are so many different factors that come into play throughout the life cycle of an outage. Outage coordinators need the support of a sophisticated Outage Management System (OMS) to ensure that lines of communication stay open and that any potential risks don’t go unnoticed. Here are four major system headaches almost every outage coordinator faces, along with some practical solutions.

1. System Constraints

Many Transmission Providers and Balancing Authorities (BAs) are forced to live within the existing capabilities of their OMS, as opposed to being able to customize the solution to meet their business needs. From initial set up and beyond, it is important that an OMS is able to seamlessly adapt to new business processes. Whether you’re introducing new equipment or implementing a new process change, make sure to confirm with your OMS vendor that the system workflow can be easily modified to accommodate these updates. At the end of the day, the ability to easily configure or change your system can save a lot of time, money, and headaches.

2. Not So Seamless Integration

One of the primary challenges entities face is the need to be able to bring in outage information from a variety of sources, which could be internal or external to their company, and being able to integrate it in a timely manner in one system that allows them to have full access to outage information. It is vital that data can be exchanged with Independent System Operators (ISOs), Regional Transmission Operators (RTOs), and other systems using standard web service Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The OMS system should support both the ability to broadcast changes to external systems by event and allow external systems to make requests to query data as needed.

3. Lack of Automation

When there are many different outage coordinators on a desk at different times, it is very common for one coordinator to handle an outage one way and another to handle it a different way. This can end up leading to user mistakes and outages being processed differently, wasting valuable time and resources. A system that allows for automation to be configured for portions of the workflow eliminates the need for outage coordinators to individually act on every aspect of an outage and reduces manual entry errors. The flexibility to configure automated actions is critical to ensuring that system automation can be adapted as business needs change.

4. Weak Reporting

For an OMS, the ability to export outage information is critical, especially for compliance purposes. An OMS should provide a meticulous audit trail, a complete outage request ticket history, and an archive of actions on each ticket. It is important to be sure comprehensive reporting capabilities are present in your system that provide template-based, ad-hoc, and user-configured reports to ensure you’ll get the data you need from the system. To meet the needs of all stakeholders looking to receive outage data reports, flexibility in the report contents, file type (e.g., PDF), and delivery mechanism (e.g., e-mail or SFTP) is needed.
Outage management is a highly complex and complicated process and it is incredibly important to have a system in place that meets all of your business needs. With the support of a sophisticated OMS, such as OATI webOMS, entities can help mitigate these major headaches and ensure that outage workflow is synchronized with business process, outage data is available to external systems and users, and outage processing is performed efficiently and consistently.

About the Author:
Dave Stangler has more than 34 years of experience in implementing and managing the development of a variety of applications for the power industry. He is currently Senior Vice President, Product Delivery at OATI, where he is responsible for application development teams providing base releases and project support. Mr. Stangler also has extensive experience in program management of complex implementations and strategic design of novel solutions. He received his B.S. in Math and Computer Science from St. John’s University, followed by his MBA from the University of St. Thomas.