Andrew Johnston: Architecture and Consultancy Services

Case Study - Asset Management Systems Evolution for National Grid Plc (1999 – 2009)


Development and evolution of a rationalised strategy for Asset and Work Management systems for National Grid Transmission

Key Outcomes

Consolidated strategy based around a core asset management system. Initial delivery of the vision leading to significant business savings. Key upgrades achieved within limited budgets and with minimal “knock on” costs thanks to strong integration architecture

Key Challenges

Fragmented and disparate legacy systems before rationalisation. Complex integration requirements. Differing business views on requirements and potential solutions.

Key Technologies

ABB/Ventyx Ellipse, AMT-Sybex FDCS/FieldReach, Open Text LiveLink, Oracle, SeeBeyond/JCAPS/JMS and MSMQ integration


For several years I worked with successive IS Strategy Managers to develop a formal IT Strategy for Asset and Work Management, aiming to deliver increased business value while reducing inefficiency, fragmentation and duplication. I innovated popular ways to document and communicate the strategy - the acclaimed “roadmap” representation was my own invention.

In late 2002, working with external consultants and the business, I articulated a new vision for the systems supporting the Transmission business's asset and work management. This was based around a central asset repository, with an integrated document management system, a field force solution, and a comprehensive data warehouse with Business Intelligence tools, all integrated by a shared EAI backbone.

By 2005 this was almost fully implemented through a major programme of IS and business change, and delivered business benefits to the tune of 25% of previous annual maintenance costs. In my role as Solution Architect for that £34M programme I provided guidance and supervision to internal and external solution providers, maintaining a “hands on” approach. In particular I was actively involved in the analysis and resolution of a number of integration, performance and reliability issues.

From 2007-9 National Grid engaged in a major programme of systems replacement and rationalisation, starting with their core Asset and Work Management system and extending to almost the entire landscape. This included refreshing the integration architecture and building comprehensive integration with a new SAP “back office”. I worked as Lead Solution Architect and Design Authority throughout this programme, and can claim to have driven design decisions which have delivered innovative value or substantially reduced costs, risks and business impact. In particular by exploiting and extending the strong integration architecture developed earlier we managed at least five major system replacements with almost zero impact on other systems at each stage.

My engagement in this process has been hands-on as well as strategic. I personally invented and developed working prototypes for innovative elements which continue to manage complex client software deployment, track key data changes through the integration layer, and transform between two very different core message models.

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