Hydro Ottawa embarks on OneWorld amalgamation

Power distributor Hydro Ottawa Ltd. needed to streamline its business and technology practices after the amalgamation of five area utilities into one.

To assist in this process, Hydro Ottawa will install OneWorld Financials and Workforce applications from J.D. Edwards & Co. at the amalgamated utilities (which include Ottawa, Nepean, Gloucester, Kanata and Goulbourn) to consolidate on one IT platform. The two applications, that will affect employees in the finance and human resources departments, are expected to be in operation this fall, according to Sergio Dinis, chief information officer for Hydro Ottawa.

The utility already uses J.D. Edwards software components including finance and inventory in its Kanata division, Dinis said.

“We were trying to leverage the value of already having it in one area, like licensing, and actually having staff and some individuals with knowledge of the product,” he said. “From a technical or strategic approach, we were looking for functionality rich, a product that was mature and well established in the industry.”

The city of Ottawa had also conducted a study that concluded the J.D. Edwards software was the one to pursue.

In 2003, Hydro Ottawa intends to use J.D. Edwards’ enterprise asset management to monitor performance and reduce maintenance costs, Dinis said.

“As a regulated component, we basically have to manage and become really efficient within our own means to create profits,” he added.

The enterprise asset management allows utilities to track their fixed assets in the areas of maintenance, location, depreciation, revenue and cost in an effort to utilize them better, said Tracey McGlaughlin, national marketing manager for J.D. Edwards Canada in Calgary.

“The one thing that is interesting about utilities is that they typically spend $2 to $3 on their fixed assets to generate a $1 of revenue,” McGlaughlin said.

Hydro Ottawa had been looking for well-integrated software, something the utility had been operating without since amalgamation, Dinis said. The OneWorld software includes a pre-integrated product called “utiligy” that focuses on customer care and billing geared specifically toward utility companies, McGlaughlin stated. The amalgamated utility was in need of an integrated solution to improve various areas, such as performance, service and cost, Dinis said.

“It’s used for utility service billing and collection, service management, work order management, meter and installation management,” she said.

Another component of the J.D. Edwards software that appealed to the utility was the module format of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) that allows for implementation when needed, Dinis said.

“A customer can pick and choose the elements of a core ERP, as an example, they may want to implement over time,” McGlaughlin said. “Where there’s good opportunity for a utility using our product is in enterprise asset management and customer relationship management, and those products are set up so you don’t have to install them all at one time, they are modular, so you can install them as you need them, or as your business grows and needs them.”

In the future Hydro Ottawa can install modules that deal with “customer-facing technology” through CRM, McGlaughlin said.

Hydro Ottawa employs 500 employees and generates $500 million in revenue servicing 224,000 residential and corporate customers, in an area that now covers over 2,700 sq. kilometres.