As an electric utility, you don’t get to decide if you will comply with NERC operations and planning standards, but you do get to determine how.
Many compliance teams still tackle compliance manually, with spreadsheets, email, repurposed project management or other tools, and maybe some duct tape. This works until it doesn’t: the list keeps getting longer, from an ever-increasing set of requirements to the growing load of tasks and actions associated with them, and your team is too small to handle everything effectively. Tasks fall through the cracks, people fall behind, so your overall compliance percentage falls, too. But you’re mandated to meet the requirements, you need to make sure your data stays within bounds, and you need to do it on an ongoing basis – which means at some point, you need a better solution.
Perhaps more importantly, organizations frequently fall into the trap of managing compliance instead of managing the overall business processes at the core of their operations. Compliance is a critical consideration, but it’s also key that you don’t let the cart drive the horse: remaining in compliance should be an outcome of streamlined, business-focused processes, not the sole determiner of how those processes are designed.
An automated approach like SigmaFlow takes the pressure off of compliance obligations so you can build and maintain operations and planning processes that add value. It simplifies the work, improves the quality, and reduces the cost of compliance to give you greater control. (Check out our previous blog series to learn how SigmaFlow addresses three key areas of 693 compliance: evidence management, RSAW automation, and workflows.) It also uplevels the conversation around your overall processes to emphasize and enable business value, not just meeting your obligations.
The advantages to automated operations and planning processes apply at both the tactical and strategic levels. From a day-to-day standpoint, SigmaFlow can take care of calculations, schedule activities, and generally wrangle the giant laundry list of things to do that comes along with NERC compliance. It lets you know when things need to get done, so you don’t have to manually remember or manage anything.
At a higher level, an automated approach helps you see the forest for the trees. It’s easy to get so immersed in the required activities that you don’t have the time to step back and see if you’re doing it in the most efficient, effective way. Tackling NERC compliance in a process-driven manner provides a big-picture perspective. With SigmaFlow, you’ll see what’s working and what’s not, so you know where to improve and can focus on problem areas. Automated operations and planning processes enable you to manage by exception instead of remain buried under the avalanche of tasks.
That’s the “why” of an automated approach to NERC compliance specifically to operations and planning as a whole. But what about the “how”? What does automated compliance management look like in practice?
We’ll answer these questions and more in this blog series. In the upcoming weeks, we will examine five specific operations and planning use cases:
- 6 Ways to Automate Your Facility Management Processes (FAC-008)
- Managing Protection System Maintenance for Tactical and Strategic Advantage (PRC-005)
- How Event-Driven Workflows Standardize and Streamline Protection System Misoperation Identification and Correction (PRC-004)
- Data Submittals
We’ll take a deep dive into each of these standards or standard families to provide greater clarity around how automated operations and planning processes from SigmaFlow deliver clear and meaningful benefits. Whether you’re considering implementing an automated approach to compliance or would like to optimize your current processes, these real-world use cases will hopefully be interesting and instructive.
SigmaFlow is a leading provider of Process Execution solutions. The company’s NERC Compliance Solution is a real-time, evidentiary based software solution that solves the challenges of CIP & 693 Compliance. The SigmaFlow Compliance Solution manages all documents, data, and work activities while automatically collecting and building the evidence for NERC compliance in a real-time repository. SigmaFlow products place a strong emphasis on embedding domain knowledge through a process-driven template-based-architecture. Contact us at email@example.com to learn more.