Top 5 Things to Consider When Evaluating an Outage Management System

An Outage Management System (OMS) allows transmission, distribution, and generation personnel to coordinate all activities for outage scheduling and management based on their business processes. These systems serve as a central hub for planning, submitting, evaluating, and tracking outage requests. They also provide automated notification to internal and external parties for outage entry and state transitions. If you’re looking to upgrade your OMS, here are the top five things you should consider when vetting a solution.
1.   Ease of Adaptability of Business Process
From initial set up and beyond, it is important your OMS is able to seamlessly adapt to new business processes. Whether you introduce new equipment, or implement a new process change, make sure the system workflow can be easily modified to accommodate these updates.
2.   Ease of Integration
It is vital that your OMS seamlessly interfaces with internal and external systems. It is important that data can be exchanged with Independent System Operators (ISOs), Regional Transmission Organizations (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.   Supports Entire Business Process
It is important your OMS meets the needs of personnel at all levels of the organization. From planners to work crews, employees in all aspects of the business should have access to the system in some capacity. When evaluating a solution, make sure you consider what features transmission, distribution, and generation personnel will need to use the system effectively.
4.   Security
When it comes to OMS security, it is important to make sure your vendor is compliant with energy industry security standards. Ask questions about their building’s physical security (fences, video monitors, motion sensors, biometric scanners, etc.) as well as their cybersecurity measures (dedicated fiber channel links, firewalls, and encryption) to ensure you can store and access your confidential and proprietary data with complete confidence. In addition, make sure the system itself provides further security through role and participant restrictions. Both features ensure all users have permission to access the data that is essential for their job duties, while preventing them from accessing content in the system that should be restricted.
5.   Robust Reporting
An OMS should provide a meticulous audit trail, complete outage request ticket history, and an archive of actions on each ticket. Make sure comprehensive reporting capabilities are present to provide template-based, ad-hoc, and user-configured reports to ensure you’ll get the data you need from the system.
If you keep these five items in mind when evaluating an OMS solution, you’ll ensure you’re not only getting the best solution to meet your needs at the day of implementation but also well into the future.
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 all 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.