Metrics, cloud computing and questions at February GM Forums

 The point of financial metrics — tools for measuring progress in safety, finances, service and operations — is to track progress and identify areas of improvement. Even if you don't hit your targeted goals, you learn from the process where to focus the effort to improve.

That was General Manager and CEO Kevin Nordt's message to GM Forum audiences Tuesday, following a year of victories in some measurement areas and challenges in others.

A prolonged wildfire near Wanapum Dam, two separate exciter-cabinet fires at Priest Rapids Dam and harsh weather events held out outage and readiness targets below target.

Presenter Lisa Stites, Senior Financial Analyst reviewed the year-end metrics results with forum audiences.

In the case of customer outages (CAIDI), our target last year was 110 total minutes or less. Actually, outage time to Grant PUD customers last year totaled nearly 182 minutes and, overall, units at the dams were available to generate six of 12 months.

"Our base CAIDI used to be a lot higher," Nordt said. We've made progress but had a rough year in 2019. "We're way better off than we were, we know what we need to work on and we've got great people working on it he said.

Over the years, as we've consistently hit old targets, we've modified the targets to make them more challenging, Nordt said.

That's the case with the "take rate" of fiber-optic service in Grant County. The rate reflects the percent of people with access to internet service over Grant PUD fiber who actually take the service. The higher the better.

Last year, the target take rate county wide was 56.5 percent. The combination of aggressive marketing and lots of activity around the county to expand the network to unserved areas succeeded in pushing that rate to nearly 58 percent; a real success story. This year's target is 60 percent.

Key financial targets met or exceeding targets last year. Others barely missed. Overall, another success story.

Safety is another area where the culture around Grant PUD is greatly improved, but we haven't yet reached the target of zero recordable injuries or 100-percent safety meeting attendance, overall.

"The key is, we're never going to let up on safety," Nordt said. "We're much better than we were four years ago. We've made tremendous progress. The level of severity of our injuries has gone down over the years. That's not just dumb luck.

He added, "Whether we make our targets or not is not really the point. As we make progress we're using metrics as diagnostic tools, so we know where to focus our efforts."
View Lisa's the strategic metrics presentation here.

Lisa Stites, Senior Financial Analyst

 Office 365 rollout continues

Service Desk Supervisor Sam Lamb gave audiences a primer on our new and evolving, cloud-based Microsoft Office 365. Its benefits include:

  • Expanded ability to work remotely
  • Tools for better teamwork, collaboration, security and information sharing
  • Real-time features tutorials updates.

The Office 365 replacement for our SharePoint-based employee directory is called "Delve." It rolled out to network computers District-wide Feb. 4.

A powerful video and audio conferencing tool, Teams, is already in use and promises to save a lot of travel time by bringing people together to solve problems through their computers. Teams replaces the clunky WebEx system.

All N drive documents will gradually be migrated to the new OneDrive, Sam said. OneDrive is more agile for file sharing and is accessible on the road by mobile device. Drive eliminates the need for file attachments. Documents are stored in the cloud and are shared via secure links with other users.

Training and support will also change with Office 365. Microsoft updates its concise training videos in real time, as needed and cover all topics, from how to set up a Teams meeting to how to use its other apps. Those videos will be the first go-to source for coworkers with questions, Sam said.

A group of employees trained in the new system will become its "champions" — able to train others in its use. In the end, if both these options aren't enough, the Service Desk will help.

Sam urges everyone to explore the new tools, check out the videos and ask questions.

"We're changing the way we've been doing things for years," he said. "Teams is changing the way we work and share documents. Be patient. It's a huge change for IT and the employee group. Give us your feedback."

See Sam's Office 365 presentation here.

Upcoming training: Dam Safety
All employees, be you "desk jockey" or craft, will be required to take a new "dam safety" training that will soon be on tap. The training will help everyone better understand the basics and challenges of keeping our dams operating safely.

Questions from the Moses Lake Local Office forum:

Will cell phone direct dials every be added to Delve?

What will happen to the S Drive?
The S Drive is part of SharePoint, which will eventually be migrated to the cloud, too. IT staffers are trying to figure out how to make the move in the most secure way. Sam says they're building their rules now, and will then move forward.

Wouldn't now be a good time to clean out the N and S drives?
Yes. Clean up those locations.

What is Edge?
Edge is a new and better internet browser. It replaces Explorer. We'll begin using Edge as soon as we update to a more modern version of Windows.

To start a meeting in Teams, we don't have to dial in. We just open the computer, correct?
Yes. Just create the meeting and send the invitations. Invitees will receive a meeting link or a phone number and code they can use to join the meeting.

We have a lot of old buildings. Any upgrades in the future?
(Nordt) We've got a lot of buildings wearing out at the same time and a backlog of underinvestment in facilities and many of our assets. We are working to get a long-term plan in place, a Facilities Master Plan.

What to you see as the top three challenges over the next five years?
1. Adapting to a decarbonized world, with the growth we've projected, and the challenge of choosing the right power resources.
2. Meeting the expectations of all customers, large and small, by balancing needs. It's not about the big guy versus the little guy. There a good chance for a win-win here. It's about keeping it good for all customer classes.
3. Can we really achieve the organizational health vision we're proposing. Culture change is slow and a bit perilous. Can we navigate a path that supports and invests in our people and achieves that the way we want to achieve it?

Sam Lamb, Service Desk Supervisor