Friday, April 15, 2011

R-APDRP: Missing understanding on usability of technology by utility people

The Restructured Accelerated Power Distribution Reforms Program (R-APDRP) of the Government of India is an ambitious program aimed at achieving significant loss reduction of the distribution utilities in the public sector. The Rs. 30K cr. deployment by 2012 makes it probably one of world's biggest scale IT deployment in utilities. The program has two parts. The Part-A, aims at using IT to create base line data and Part-B aims at strengthening the electrical network for reducing losses and improving the level of service delivery and quality of power to customers.

The program has started well with a good structural framework and progress so far:
  • 1403 eligible towns with 49 utilities already sanctioned for IT enabled baseline acquisition (Phase-A)
  • 60 schemes for SCADA/DMS likely to be sanctioned by Mar 2011 (5 already done)
  • Good empaneled partners for delivery - Process (KPMG); IT consultants & implementers (many top players); Capacity Building (Feedback Ventures); Monitoring as TPIEA (many established players)
As any of this order initiatives, R-APDRP program is also filled with challenges, primarily because of the aggressive timelines set as well as the scale of the program aimed at all the utilities in India. The scale and the aggressive timelines together with use of IT in a big way in the Distribution side are all new to the people on the ground, and hence pulling it of managerially is a big challenge.

  1. Major focus has been on technology upgradation for utilities - sidelined softer aspects of easier adoption by utility staff for end-objective realization. As rightly put:

    “The reforms project has to be owned by utility staff”
    - Mr. Kapil Mohan (Director, Distribution - MoP)

    “One major concern when we go for IT enablement under reforms is that there is no IT savvy management in our power utilities. We need to e-educate our staff – both line & managerials”
    - Mr. M.M.Vashistha (Director, Operations, DHBVN)

  2. Point-to-point integration is pressed between different vendors, but overall system level usability for easier, continuous & impactful operations by utility people is challenged.

  3. Change Management for handling transition of upgraded network back to utility needs a major evolution
    - Capacity building in employees to use new improved networks
    - Incentives alignment to build improved ownership in utility staff
    - Performance monitoring to track adoption and improvement against baseline

  4. Though 3rd party monitoring and capacity building support is provided to projects, but they are more tied to vendor completion of project against SLAs, but not tied well to realize utility’s continuous improved performance through adoption of improved assets and best practices.
While time will only reveal the performance of this initiative, it will be good if System Integrators under R-APDRP program takes up an early initiative - to engage better with utility people for drawing their insights and experience to design, deliver, realise & benefit from effective System Integration. What is needed is a true co-creation attitude between private vendors to engage utility and design solutions and services together with them.

pManifold offers services in 'Causal Analysis to Improve R-APDRP Effectiveness & Utility Engagement' and will be glad to support a project.

Post by : Rahul Bagdia @ pManifold

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