Rebuilding a Business-Critical Enterprise Data Feed, From the Ground Up
Vistra Energy, a Texas-based energy company focused on the competitive energy and power generation markets, struggled with enterprise-wide data feeds as the source of truth for configuration and asset management. The tool in place did not provide reliable information, which was impacting critical business functions and projects. Other pain points included:
- An unestablished governance platform for the database and related processes
- Poor data quality and lack of defined relationships between infrastructure component
- Unreliable, manual data sources
- Lack of insight into audits and financial analysis
- Negative perception of the tool by employees
- A lack of service adoption and understanding of policies
Since this was not the client’s first attempt at fixing the existing Configuration Management Database (CMDB), the team was committed to producing a transformational change and building a SACM platform, not just providing quick fix. This commitment was shown through a comprehensive approach to requirements gathering, inclusive team structure, and transformative results.
We began the 10-month project with a planning phase followed by leading design workshops with key stakeholders. Each of the 19 interactive workshops had specialized and targeted audience members (such as application architects, server owners, and compliance managers) based on the subject matter being discussed. By directly involving stakeholders that interacted with the tool, we ensured that all pain points and needs were appropriately captured.
The team structure was unique, as it involved Vistra stakeholders, HCL Center of Excellence team members, and Sendero – all working together with a “one team” mentality. While HCL provided technical expertise, Sendero owned the leadership components ensuring the solution was meeting expected business outcomes while following best practices, communicating across the organization, and managing program team and stakeholder expectations.
The blended team worked off each other’s diverse strengths, opportunities and skills. Amidst a challenging time of change for the client – including bankruptcy emergence, organizational changes, and a name change – we provided a constant focus throughout the course of the project.
Data Platform Transformation
Utilizing the feedback from the design workshops, we began the process of rebuilding the SACM platform: transforming the way it displayed data for end users and how it was used by the organization. By transforming the platform to include the correct data fields gathered in the design workshops, and changing the structure and forms of the web application where users access the tool, we built a platform and framework that can last. The tool needed to move from being a place where people uploaded data occasionally to being a dynamic data source where users would easily update records, interact and establish critical relationships between components.
A Service Asset Configuration Management (SACM) tool is only as good as the quality of data that is stored, the process in place to manage, and ease of use for continued success. With the work done and changes made Vistra Energy now has a SACM tool that can be trusted.James Milburn, Vistra Energy SACM Service Owner and Governance Lead
We successfully transformed the SACM platform, focusing on industry best practices and planned measures to ensure usability and sustainability for the long term. Best of all, users can now rely on meaningful data to help them do their jobs and make better decisions.
Key outcomes from the project were:
- 85% of records electronically sourced
- 34% increase of automation and reducing non-critical fields by 13%
- 68 hours of scheduled training and support
- 19 interactive design workshops
- 9 data models with a shared application centric structure
- 133 application and infrastructure participants
- Implementation of a Governance Steering Committee
- SACM Operational RACI
- Data Maintenance Guidelines
- SACM “How To Guide” and key communications
The program team also provided joint User Acceptance Testing (UAT), CMDB Training and a data cleanup effort to ensure data accuracy and enhance the user experience. The “make it stick” approach to this project ensured that change management was involved throughout each phase of the 10-month initiative, creating a sustainable framework for Vistra to move forward – confidently owning the maintenance of their critical data.
This program led to significant savings from infrastructure cost optimization and avoidance. From an operational perspective, the data is of value and we can use the tool to understand impacts of changes, incidents and more. People actually use CMDB now. The [project] team did a great job and the end result helped optimize our infrastructure.David Blasingame, Vistra Energy Principal Architect