In our last post, Automating the Facility Ratings Management Process (FAC-008), we looked at the intricacies of FAC-008 and the challenges that many organizations face with their facility management processes. Today, we’ll explore the modern alternative to spreadsheets and in-house databases for FAC-008 management: an automated approach to facility ratings management with SigmaFlow.
In a nutshell, SigmaFlow can help utilities implement a robust Facility rating methodology and manage:
- Adding new Facilities or modification of existing ones
- Periodic review of existing Facility ratings
- Change management to address ratings discrepancies
Automating your Facility management processes delivers the visibility and capabilities you need to improve Facility management overall, and allows you to more efficiently and effectively manage FAC-008 compliance. Solutions like SigmaFlow act as a central compliance monitoring system to ensure that ratings methodologies are managed and controlled, Facility Ratings are correctly applied, and necessary actions are initiated when ratings and/or rating changes must be communicated.
How does an automated approach to facility ratings management processes add business value and improve compliance?
- Enforcing data quality: An automated system can validate equipment and facility information entered (manually or via integration) to ensure the required data is entered and that the data values meet pre-defined conditions and are within acceptable ranges.
- Automated monitoring and actions: SigmaFlow proactively monitors the data changes and enforces the utility’s Facility Ratings methodology, including its own Facility Rating calculations. Depending on the impact of Facility Ratings change, several actions can be triggered. These include:
- Alerting users when erroneous data caused a rating change or an unexpected ratings change occurs or impacts the most limiting elements of the facility.
- Triggering internal and/or external notifications (as mandated by NERC) with relevant details and within policy-defined timelines.
- Triggering workflows to handle changes or enforce processes related to the ratings change. For example, trigger remedial action if potential “Self-Report” conditions or other violations are detected.
- Reports/dashboards: SigmaFlow provides management-level dashboards and drill-down reports that offer real-time visibility into the current Facility Ratings, recent Facility Rating changes, viewing all the equipment in a Facility, and viewing the Facilities associated to each equipment.
- Detailed audit history: Unlike spreadsheets or databases without intelligence, automated operations and planning processes maintain a full and detailed audit history of all business process, documents and data managed in the system. This builds evidence that business process has been followed and your documented policies met, including what information was changed, what was it changed from/to, who changed it and when. For Facility Ratings, details (who, when, what) around new equipment or Facility additions, equipment or Facility modifications are automatically tracked and easily accessible for reviews or when needed as part of data requests.
- Periodic reviews: Without optimized Facility Ratings management processes, annual reviews are often reliant on calendar reminders and involve validating copious amounts of data and calculations, potentially across many spreadsheets. These processes are all prone to error. In contrast, an automated solution can ensure that initiating the review process and notifications is automated. In some instances, periodic reviews may even become unnecessary due to greatly improved control over change management. The efficiencies extend to the reports as well. Solution reports can evaluate the data to be reviewed and then present the report in a way that highlights possible issues and anomalies on which the reviewer should focus.
- Asset management. Utilities can easily view a complete inventory of assets and actively manage that inventory against the calculated Facility Ratings (given that the organization is managing their assets through their workflow system or the system is integrated with their asset management system.) This assures that the Facility Ratings are based on the most current equipment installed, the most accurate equipment ratings, and that changes that affect the Facility Ratings are flagged to all parties.
FAC-008 is a complicated standard that benefits tremendously from greater automation and more detailed, thoughtful process management. With the capabilities listed above, you can not only ensure FAC-008 compliance, but manage the entire planning process, including Facility Ratings management, across your entire organization and every intersection of NERC standards.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.