By – Phil Mansbridge, Head of Sales and Product Development, Generis Technology Limited

It’s fair to say that the DCC has faced much scepticism since it was appointed by Ofgem to manage the Switching programme and much of the criticism has been levelled at the speed of progress.  In July I attended the DCC’s first summit which gave an update on the programme so far and outlined the next phase; design, test and build.  Four months on from this I attended the DCC’s second summit.  So, what progress had been made with the programme in that time?

This latest session was opened by Ro Crawford, Chief Delivery Office for DCC.  She started by reminding everyone why the programme was so important and described how it is looking to increase confidence amongst consumers to encourage switching of suppliers, create a more streamlined approach for energy market participants and also as an industry, work towards next day switching as an enabler for increased competition in the sector.

Paul Morcom, Senior Programme Manager for DCC was able to talk around some of the criticism around progress as he gave an update on the programme to date.  Explaining how the programme began with the appointment of delivery partners, he added that it was now well into the design build and test (DBT) phase of the project and is on track to start the various phases of integration testing next year with a plan to go-live in the summer of 2021.

This is really encouraging news and will give a much-needed boost of confidence to the programme. However, it is unclear if it be enough to satisfy the sceptics.  As outlined at the kick-off summit, a big part of the programme’s service delivery is collaboration with industry partners.  Experts in their respective fields, Netcompany, Landmark, Expleo, PwC and CapGemini are all responsible for delivering various parts of the programme and for its future success.  The partner presentations at this second DCC summit were very encouraging.  As delivery partner for the Central Switching Service platform itself, Landmark demonstrated its new Developer Portal which will allow easy access to all API documentation regarding the interfaces to the CSS which will be a key enabler for system integration.  NetCompany, the delivery partner responsible for system integration, also gave an update on the planned testing phases which are key to achieving the DCC’s go-live date and unveiled important tools to assist with these phases.

The session concluded with a tour of the Smart Meter test labs and the Smart Meter Technical Operations Centre at DCC’s new Manchester headquarters.  Impressively, we were able to see real-time live stats on smart meter installations and operations.

Many of us in the industry have been aware of the challenges the DCC faces in meeting the project objectives.  But the systematic programme that has been launched by the DCC and its partner network is now gathering momentum and it was encouraging to see the innovation and development that is taking place in DBT to bolster the progress and address any issues with the technology integration.

So, with a rugged implementation plan, it’s clear the DCC now means business.  We know that smart meter technology will open up choice to customers when managing their energy and put them in control of their bills.  The DCC is also committed to supporting faster switching of energy providers which will, in turn create increased competition for energy providers which will subsequently mean more competitive tariffs for consumers.