Custom Software Development for Power Utilities

Turn the Power On with Custom Software Development

As companies consider digital acceleration, it’s helpful to understand what the options are. In many situations, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software is useful for the task that must be accomplished or the problem that needs to be solved. However, some companies may require very specific features that COTS software doesn’t include. In these cases, custom software development from a professional provider like BairesDev can be a better choice.

A wide range of companies can benefit from custom software development, including those in the pharmaceutical, medical, retail, fintech, education, insurance, and real estate industries. Another type of company that can benefit from custom software development is power utilities. These companies are in the process of using digital tools to transform the way they operate and require a wide range of applications to do it.

But what are those applications? Here we describe some of the software power utilities commonly use, and how custom versions can help them be more effective providers to their business and residential customers. But first, we take a closer look at what custom software development is and how companies that use it can benefit.

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What is Custom Software Development?

Custom software development is the creation of applications to specifically suit a particular company. The applications are designed by professional software engineers with expertise in understanding the unique needs of each client. 

Custom software development can be expensive upfront. It can also take a long time to create. However, these disadvantages are outweighed by the benefits:

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    Lower total cost of ownership (TCO)
    While the upfront cost may be higher than that of purchasing COTS software, the custom option will cost you less in the long run. That’s because, as your business expands, you can outgrow your COTS software, meaning you need to spend more on newer versions. Custom software is designed to grow with your business, so you don’t need to make those expenditures.
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    Better security
    COTS software is “out there” in the world, meaning hackers can get a hold of it to learn about its vulnerabilities and how to exploit them. Custom software is proprietary, meaning the only entities that know exactly how it works are you and your custom software provider.
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    Specific to your needs
    Rather than creating the need to alter your processes to suit a COTS application, or develop workarounds because it doesn’t really do what you need it to do, custom software provides exactly the features you need to perform a wide variety of tasks. Perhaps just as important, it excludes any unneeded features, enabling the application to work at top speed.
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    Improved productivity
    The time employees spend creating workarounds for features that don’t exist in a COTS application or waiting for one that’s slow, can be better spent getting more work done with a faster, more efficient custom program, or using the time saved working on higher-level tasks.
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    Better maintenance and support
    Custom software development usually includes access to a dedicated support team that can help your employees learn the application and assist you in addressing any problems that arise.
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    Improved integration
    Customized applications can be developed specifically to work well with your entire network and other software already installed.
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    Streamlined processes
    While many COTS applications are designed to only perform one task, customized software can be built to combine related processes, such as accounting and procurement.

Now that you know what custom software development is and how it can benefit you, it’s time to see how it can improve the processes of power utilities.

Grid Management

Grid management is at the heart of a utility’s operations. Ensuring the equipment functions properly is critical for providing consistent power delivery to customers. Such software must include an array of features and be scalable and customizable. It should include the ability to manage smart grid components and smart meter infrastructure, as well as the communication networks between them. 

A customized version can help utilities create a dashboard with specific components that relate to its operations. The more specific the software is, the better service the utility will be able to provide, along with meeting all necessary regulations. 

Distributed Energy

Distributed energy resources (DERs), such as solar and wind power, bring a new dimension to electric power provision. The traditional power grid provided a one-way flow of energy, from the power provider to the customer. Now customers can also create and distribute power as well, and even sell it back to the provider when they have excess. Utilities need robust applications to track all these various energy sources and ensure a balanced power flow. 

Customized software can make this process more efficient by taking into consideration the specific combination of traditional and distributed energy components in a particular utility’s service area. 

Smart City

As utilities continue to transform the traditional grid into a smart grid, more smart city processes become possible. They include automatic lighting that adjusts to the presence of pedestrians and vehicles, sensors within buildings that detect how many people are in a room and adjust the temperature accordingly, and trash receptacles that broadcast when they’re full, to minimize the resources needed to pick it up. 

Only with the right software can municipalities manage all these services, optimize energy use, and generate reports to help them improve processes and services. Smart city software performs all these functions with a platform that coordinates incoming data with outgoing service teams. Because each city is different, a custom version of a smart city platform is an excellent foundation for a successful deployment.

ERP

Like all companies, power utilities must automate processes and gather insights. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) helps companies manage regular business activities like accounting, compliance, risk management, project management, procurement, and supply chain operations. Business managers can use it to do things like find areas to reduce spending or increase productivity, effectively assign resources, and integrate seamlessly with other applications. 

Additionally, power utilities can use a custom ERP solution for asset management, responding to outages, and increasing power generation. For example, power grid equipment must be compatible with the existing system, so it’s helpful to have a way to ensure all components work together seamlessly. Outage tickets and supply-demand reports can also be handled from a custom ERP system.

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