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A utility company is a combination of many businesses:  It is a construction company, an engineering firm, a property manager, a lobbyist, a law firm, a billing service, a marketing and communications business, and an owner/operator of large infrastructure investments all wrapped into one.  Sharing information in this environment is a challenge, because most departments in the organization have developed specific and often walled-off line-of-business applications for their business processes.

If you’re in HR and you need to get information from legal to update a policies and procedures document, you may have to call around to find out where the information is and how you or someone else can retrieve it.  If you’re a manager in Transmission and Distribution, you may be working from a policies and procedures document that is out-of-date or has been superseded by another policy, but how are you to know?

For utilities, like many industries, the pressure is on.  Shareholders expect them to deliver operational efficiency when much of their infrastructure is aging and needs replacement.  Customers expect perfect reliability and stellar customer service.  Compliance requirements from regional and national agencies ratchet up continuously, and the challenges and costs for securing information and operational systems are ballooning.  All of this while rate payers and regulators are often indifferent to their business case for rate hikes.

Enterprise content management makes it possible for managers and engineers, marketers and lawyers, customer service reps and property managers to find the documents or information that they need without having to figure out who to call and waiting for someone else to get it for them.  It can solve the problem of not knowing whether you’re working from a current or obsolete document.   It enables working professionals to be more productive by leveraging the work that has already been produced – whether it’s a rate-case presentation, an answer to a customer complaint, an engineering modification, or a hiring policy.

Effective enterprise content management solutions like SharePoint or OpenText are essential to operational excellence, change management, and leveraging of corporate assets.  Without the backbone of enterprise content management, organizations struggle with a myriad of one-off integrations between siloed data repositories, inconsistent communications policies, high management engagement with the minutia of business transactions, and inefficient customer service interactions.

Without competent enterprise content management policies in place, asset and risk management, which require exceptional management and operational focus to succeed, become even more daunting challenges.  In 2010, a gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.  The gas utility company, which is currently facing fines in the range of $1.4 Billion, was criticized for poor record keeping.  Investigations revealed that thousands of records of strength tests needed to ensure safety and prevent faulty pipelines from being used were missing. If the utility had maintained those records efficiently with a records management system, it would not have used the section of pipe that caused the explosion.

General Networks Corporation provides utilities with enterprise content management solutions that speed up decision making, improve quality, reduce risk, and support business agility.   Our content management platforms address the needs of large user communities across the enterprise as well as small teams.  Typical applications include

  • Engineering drawing management
  • HR Employee records
  • Corporate legal
  • Training curriculum
  • Workers compensation claims
  • Security audits
  • Report management
  • Records management
  • Invoice processing
  • Survey data reporting and retention
  • Policies and procedures
  • Maintenance manuals
  • Document scanning
  • Corporate real estate contracts
  • Supply chain management
  • Asset management

General Networks has provided enterprise solutions in the utility sector for Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas, Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, New Mexico Gas, Park Water, and California Public Utilities Commission.  If you would like to discuss options for improving your content management performance, please contact  our Vice President of Professional Services, David Horwatt, at or (818) 330-7513.