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Avanade delivers a more scalable, reliable and faster upgrade on time and on budget

Business Situation

When the 230 employees of Centrica’s Energy, Marketing and Trading (EM&T) division went home on the afternoon of Friday, October 23, there was an element of uncertainty.

That’s because in between their departure and arrival on Monday, Centrica and its technology partner, Avanade, would be implementing a massive upgrade to its Endur energy trading and risk management platform (ETRM), an essential technology component of the company’s EM&T division. Green and red posters had been printed ready to be displayed to inform users of the success or of the failure on this major upgrade as they walked into the building.

The workload had grown significantly beyond the size that the original deployment had been designed to handle. The strain was beginning to show in the platform’s performance and availability, and generated about six incidents per month, many of which affected trading, it was expensive to maintain and also affected speed to market for new products.

The underlying software and technology which underpinned the current platform were fast approaching end of life, thus substantially increasing operational risk.

“Avanade has demonstrated a flexible approach, a willingness to work with us and do what it takes to make us successful. They were able to draw on their Global Delivery Network to ensure we had the right team and the right mix of onshore and offshore resources. They committed their senior leadership to sponsoring the project, to ensure it got proper attention. They had not only their experience to draw upon, but also the experience of Accenture. The price was right and we were comfortable that Avanade could deliver on time.”

Dean Eaves Head of Information Systems at Centrica EM&T

Solution

Avanade assembled a total onshore/ offshore team for Centrica EM&T of 124 people based in Avanade centers in London, Bangalore and Delhi. About 20 of those Avanade staff members worked on the upgrade project alongside about 15 more from Centrica and contracting firms. The Avanade team members worked so closely and so well with their Centrica EM&T counterparts that “you couldn’t tell who was working for whom,” says Mo Patel, Production & Supplier Manager at Centrica EM&T. “They were one team with common goals. And when new or expanded teams were needed, Avanade spun them up quickly. Their determination to hit the go-live date was impressive.”

To help ensure a flawless upgrade, Avanade conducted two full dress rehearsals on the weekends leading up to the target go-live date, in which its people practiced each of the 556 actions mapped out for the upgrade. On Saturday and Sunday, October 24 and 25, Avanade implemented the upgrade. Meanwhile Centrica EM&T employees spent the weekend not knowing what they’d face when they returned to work.

On Monday, October 26, Centrica EM&T’s 230 employees returned to the company’s office—to find the walls plastered with green posters. The upgrade and production cutover had succeeded. Morale in the office was high; smiles were everywhere.

Results

And from that successful start, things only got better. Traders found the system just as they’d left it—except faster, more efficient and more reliable. Operational risk is reduced thanks to increased performance and greater uptime.

Most importantly, Centrica EM&T wanted an ETRM platform that would support continued growth. Centrica EM&T expects to do 1 million trades in the current year, up 33% from last year. Eaves says the upgraded ETRM platform will more than support it—something that couldn’t have happened on the old platform without considerable time and expense.

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