Kathy Lane, CIO National Grid: Page 2

By BTM Institute Staff Writer  |  Posted 2008-07-02 Print this article Print

An interview with Kathy Lane CIO of National Grid

Q. Is IT part of the company's shared-services organization?

The company has a shared-services organization, but IT is not part of it. We came out of the gate before the creation of the shared-services organization. It made a lot of sense for us not to be part of shared services because we had a lot of legacy applications and processes to sort out. Our CFO manages these legacy applications, including the supply chain and the facilities. 

Q. Can you describe your enterprise architecture?

We established an enterprise architecture team, and we're now working through vendor negotiations for a consistent platform. To this end, I can't be specific about out enterprise architecture. It is still a work in progress.

Many of the processes of a utility company can─and should─be managed consistently. We've gone after master data, which is the company's bloodline. We need to have consistent definitions in the use of the data. Over time, we'll be putting in place some standard, common transaction-processing capabilities, and we'll select strategic solutions for those applications, which are outside the normal space for ERP [enterprise resource planning] and enterprise asset management. I'm talking about things like our SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] systems, our GIS [geographic information system] and even our customer-management systems.

Q. How much of your business is regulated, and how much is non-regulated?

For the most part, we are a regulated business. In the U.K., we have some non-regulated elements, such as our metering business. We have the challenge of dealing with different regulatory bodies in the U.K. In the U.S., you have national, state and local regulators.

Q. What are your IT governance model and corporate governance model for IT?

We have very defined business units and regional governance models that tie closely to our regulatory requirements. For IT, we fold in under those governance models. We have to make sure that as we invest capital in IT we get a return on those investments. That's one piece. Next, we put governance around our technical standards, architecture standards and security standards. Because the company is pursing a global strategy and we're introducing new global functional capabilities, we need a governance mechanism to govern global initiatives. We have a way to leverage the most senior executive team in the company.

Before we had the ability to go global, we didn't have any mechanisms to get global projects approved. For example, the requirements for a security initiative would be consistent regardless of the geographic location. We used to attach that kind of initiative to perhaps a regional project. If the project was approved and funded, then the work was completed. If not, we'd have to look for another mechanism. This approach created a gap for projects with a global requirement.

The BTM Institute (www.btminstitute.org) brings together the academic, corporate, government and thought-leadership communities as a multi-disciplinary research think tank to address the need to integrate business and technology.

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