REVIEWER: Gary Cripps, CFO, Delaware Electric. BACKGROUND: Delaware Electric Cooperative is a distribution electric utility company serving approximately 80,000 members in Kent and Sussex counties in Delaware. The company does not generate electricity but provides the service in getting the electricity to the meter.

PLATFORMS: IBM P-Series WebSphere Process Server, AIX 5.1.

PROBLEM SOLVED: As a midsized company, Delaware Electric suffered more from market fluctuation than its larger competitors, creating the need for an IT system with the ability to stabilize and optimize its operations. Today, Delaware Electric is the lowest-cost energy provider in the mid-Atlantic region. IBM’s WebSphere Process Server allows the company to create and deploy business processes that are aligned with business goals, enabling the cooperative to respond to customers faster than its competitors, provide optimum service and lower costs. Before, the organization was rigidly tied to the billing engine and the associated application provider. Today, IBM WebSphere Process Server enables the flexibility that turns a billing engine into an information service within a service-oriented architecture (SOA), allowing Delaware Electric to better manage its organization.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Delaware Electric moved to IBM’s WebSphere Process Server as a means to accomplish strategic business objectives. The cooperative had an array of expensive, proprietary, inflexible and mission-critical software applications in place, which needed to be choreographed to increase flexibility and reduce processing costs. WebSphere Process Server is standards-based, ensuring interoperability and flexibility while maximizing reuse of existing resources and saving costs.

STRENGTHS: WebSphere Process Server facilitates the integration of business processes by leveraging existing IT assets as reusable services without the complexities associated with traditional integration methodologies. Business flexibility is achieved through standardizing, automating and integrating key business processes and managing the performance of these processes. WebSphere Process Server allows Delaware Electric to grow its SOA to be flexible and business-driven, facilitating an understanding between those implementing the company’s IT strategy and the company’s business executives. The SOA flattens hierarchy and provides critical decision support, thus empowering all associates to make informed decisions.

WEAKNESSES: Though Delaware Electric achieved its desired business model, it took more insight and work than expected. A weakness of any SOA strategy is that it requires careful examination of the scope of what an SOA actually is. Delaware Electric’s deployment of WebSphere Process Server as part of its SOA was a process of education and training and is indicative of the entire industry’s approach to building a successful SOA.

SELECTION CRITERIA: IBM brought experience and knowledge of business process management and SOA. IBM was able to convert the cooperative’s IT vision into business terms so that Delaware Electric can now articulate a clear SOA plan to achieve its goals of driving business flexibility and lowering energy costs.

DELIVERABLES: Delaware Electric is now working on automated meters and has intelligent meters on homes that can relay the consumption patterns, tell the energy usage peaks and report the load shapes on a particular property. As such, the organization can bring the consumer in, making them an active participant in the management of their energy consumption, a level of service that many competitors lack. The engineering and mapping departments also saw process improvement. Field engineers deployed an automated staking application so staking sheets are now created on electronic tablets which can be downloaded, printed and mailed to the mapping department where a draftsman directly enters the information into a mapping database. This process improvement reduced the backlog in mapping jobs from 2,100 to zero over the last year.

VENDOR SUPPORT: IBM was able to help Delaware Electric identify its current architecture and use that architecture to augment its SOA and meet its IT vision. IBM not only understood Delaware Electric’s vision but had the capability to transform that vision into an effective business plan.

DOCUMENTATION: Delaware Electric could run WebSphere Process Server relying on documentation because the documentation is complete and simple to interpret.

WebSphere Process Server
IBM
1 New Orchard Road
Armonk, NY 10504-1722
(914) 499-1900
http://www.ibm.com/

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