Acumen Metering (Acumen), established by Origin, provides metering services to residential, commercial and industrial customers across Australia. Thoughtworks partnered with Acumen to scale their bespoke metering business in response to government-led industry changes, which called for the introduction of smart meters to the mass consumer market.
With just 18 months to transform every aspect of the business, we ran a four-week discovery to build out a strategy roadmap, taking into account the evolving energy market, as well as understanding customer touch points across the entire business.
The roadmap allowed Acumen to prioritise the key initiatives to complete over the next 18 months to enable them to meet new industry regulations, as well as improve the service provided to their customers. The first initiatives to be undertaken included improving field services and creating better visibility of assets.
To address Acumen’s challenge of improving field services, the team worked closely with field operatives to replace the off-the-shelf tool that accompanied their site work. By embedding themselves in the technician’s daily process and testing a series of prototypes, they were able to custom-build AcuLink, an application that captured the right data, at the points that made the most sense in the technician’s workflow.
We asked one of our technicians to beta test the app out in the field and then took it away to incorporate the feedback we had collected. He immediately wanted it back, explaining that using it allowed him to get his work done in one-third of the usual time!
As well as creating a user experience that empowers field technicians, AcuLink has also positively impacted the downstream data team. Now that quality data is captured at the source, the back-office team has been able to focus on completing higher-value analytical activities, instead of the data-cleaning tasks that typically flooded their workload.
The next challenge that Thoughtworks helped solve was how to create better visibility of assets. In just 16 weeks, the team delivered AcuStock, an inventory system which tracks power meters from arrival at the warehouse, to installation.
The new system allowed Acumen to identify the location and status of each asset in their inventory.
Storage costs have been reduced by utilising older stock first. Transfer costs have also been minimised, as stock planning can be undertaken more efficiently and with confidence that the meter will be in the correct location to dispatch when required.
Our growing business means that we will have large levels of stock out in the field at any point in time, so this capability is a huge step forward from the previous situation.
The new system was used for a national stocktake, and inventory controllers were delighted with the automated process, as well as their ability to then forecast for the future with a much higher quality of data.
Looking to the future, Acumen plan to continue to scale their operations, using agile and lean practices to build an adaptive organisation, able to meet the demands of an ever-advancing industry.