The Client: A Leading Multi-Service Utilities Company in the USA

Overview

The company has taken significant steps towards contributing to the economic vitality of the community, and enhancing its quality of life. They provide exceptional hometown services at competitive prices, and adhere to responsible environmental practices built on a strong culture of compliance. There is a strong focus on pursuing employee safety measures, leveraging renewable energy, and minimizing emissions in compliance with water and air quality standards and regulations.

The company has been taking on several innovative projects to fulfill growing demands for a stable utility service. But with each new implementation project, they need to create a work package -- a list of permits that have to be obtained. Each permit in the work package is categorized based on various criteria, and carries a number of requirements, parameters, and conditions that have to be adhered to.

As the company expanded their operations, took on large-scale projects, and dealt with increasingly complex work packages, they were exposed to a variety of new risks, as well as complex compliance regulations, environmental mandates, and increasing permit related tasks. Therefore, the company was looking for a strong and automated solution that would help them overcome the challenges associated with permit management and regulatory and environmental compliance management.

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Solution

Being involved in numerous construction projects, the company was focused on obtaining permits, and ensuring compliance with various regulations. They were looking for a solution to streamline and automate their permit management and compliance processes, as well as consolidate their existing tools and processes in one framework, improve compliance alignment, and automate control management, measurement, gap remediation, and reporting in accordance with regulations, standards, and policies.

The company also wanted the solution to integrate other regulatory compliance initiatives such as those related to the natural gas Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP), the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration rules, and the OSHA employee safety requirements.

The company conducted a detailed evaluation of enterprise solutions in the market, and eventually selected MetricStream based on its integrated approach to GRC. MetricStream provided a comprehensive permit management and regulatory compliance solution which was configured to meet the company’s unique business requirements.

The solution consists of the following capabilities:

Permit Management: The solution helps streamline the four phases of permit management -- permit applicability, permit acquisition and tracking, permit codification, and environmental compliance. It automates workflows across permit creation, review, renewals, work packages, and issue management. It also simplifies the management and tracking of permit applications, acquisitions, conditions, tasks, monitoring, reporting, and closure, as well as issue mitigation and related compliance and environmental processes.

Using the solution, the company can obtain permits, and ensure that they are in compliance with guidelines from various sources. They can also create work packages for various aspects of their construction projects, depending on the type of permits required - federal, state, or local permits.

Compliance Management: The MetricStream solution enables automation of compliance workflows across the company’s business units and departments. It supports the company’s organizational model, and creates a tightly mapped framework of different risk management roles and reporting relationships. The solution also streamlines compliance with various regulations and environmental norms.

Users have role-based access to the solution portal with options for initiating actions, responding to events, managing and assigning tasks, and viewing reports and dashboards.

The solution triggers email-based notifications and alerts to appropriate personnel to notify them of various events and requirements. It also includes unique capabilities such as visual tools, frameworks, workflows, forms, reports, dashboards, and heat maps to facilitate information sharing and visibility.

Environment Management: The MetricStream solution helps in tracking and assuring compliance with federal, state, and regional regulations related to constructions, operations, and monitoring. It also helps the company’s environment team manage air emission related activities, Air Pollution Emission Notifications (APEN), and other potential compliance needs.

Integrated GRC Platform: The MetricStream solution is built on a GRC platform which can be extended across business units, operations, departments, and geographies.  The platform provides built-in tools such as a “Form, Process Flow, and Data Designer” that can be configured to suit specific business requirements. It also helps the company streamline and integrate compliance management across the enterprise.

Using the platform, the company can adopt a clear, unambiguous approach to compliance by breaking down restrictive silos, and building more collaborative workflows. The platform provides a centralized framework to manage all compliance processes, ranging from control assessments and monitoring, to risk analysis, reporting, and documentation.

Challenges

Manual process constraints: As the company expanded their business and project acquisitions, they had to manage a growing number of tasks related to permit tracking and compliance with regional mandates. Most of these tasks were performed using manual processes which, in turn, were time-consuming, resource-intensive, and susceptible to errors. The manual approach also increased the complexities involved in assessing and remediating process gaps, tracking collective issues, and initiating corrective actions in a timely manner.

Isolated compliance initiatives: The company had implemented multiple initiatives for complying with permit related mandates and regulations. These initiatives were executed in silos across various business functions, which led to an increase in the number of compliance tools and processes, and exposed the company to multiple risks emerging out of a fragmented compliance framework. The siloed approach also limited collaboration, and increased redundancies and duplication of effort.

High cost of compliance: The company is focused on providing exceptional and highly dependable customer service at low costs. But with each new regulation that had to be adhered to, there was an increase in the number of ad-hoc compliance processes and workflows which, in turn, led to inconsistencies. These processes ended up being high maintenance, thus adding to the cost of operations, and hampering organizational efficiency.

Limited reporting capability: The company undertakes a significant number of construction projects which involve permit related tasks, issues, work orders, and regulatory compliance requirements. The lack of cross-functional collaboration on these processes, combined with poor automation, hampered reporting. It was a challenge to gain a comprehensive, organization-wide view of compliance in real time. This, in turn, affected decision-making.

Why MetricStream?

Robust enterprise GRC platform with a broad set of functionalities that serve as the foundation for the company’s compliance needs

Ability to configure MetricStream´s off-the-shelf capabilities to adapt to best practices followed in the company

Powerful reporting for internal data analysis as well as customer reporting

Multi-site, web-based access with collaboration tools to support teamwork

Low total-cost-of-ownership

Benefits

  • Automation:
    The solution is equipped with automated functionalities to accelerate permit management and compliance. Therefore, the time, effort, and investments involved in these processes can be minimized. This not only improves efficiency, but also enables the company to focus on analyzing available data to gain profitable insights.
  • Centralization:
    The solution consolidates all compliance processes across departments, business units, and locations in a single framework. It also facilitates seamless collaboration across the enterprise, thus simplifying compliance, and eliminating redundant controls or control assessments.
  • Ease of compliance monitoring and tracking:
    The solution standardizes regulatory and compliance tracking process. It also helps monitor the completion of tasks, send automated reminders, and trigger escalations if tasks are not completed on time.
  • Streamlined workflows:
    The solution is built on a single platform, enabling the company to streamline and integrate all risk, compliance, and audit management processes. In the process, collaboration across business units, departments, and operations are improved.
  • Improved visibility for decision making:
    The solution contains powerful real-time dashboards and reports which provide timely insights on compliance. These tools offer the ability to drill down into details, and monitor trends and indicators of risks.

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