To help provide better visibility of performance assurance work, the Code Manager is trialling a monthly briefing which shares market-wide trends and insights to REC Parties. We hope that this information is useful and will welcome feedback once we have published the first three briefings.
January 2024 Newsletter: Update on REC Services
by Lakshna Murali, Service Provider Assurance Manager for the Code Manager
Each month, the Code Manager presents a view of how REC services are performing to the Performance Assurance Board (PAB) along with Performance Assurance activities undertaken to drive improvement. The Performance Assurance service plays a crucial role in the REC eco-system by holding Service Providers accountable for meeting their performance obligations and required service levels. In this newsletter, I will take the opportunity to share some insights on the performance of REC services, highlighting the effectiveness of Performance Assurance measures to drive improvement.
These REC services include:
The REC Code Manager Services – we will look at the cumulative performance over 2023.
The Switching Services, including the Central Switching Service (CSS), the CSS Certificate Authority (CSS CA), the Switching Operator (SO) (collectively the Central Registration Service or CRS), the Electricity Registration Data Services (ERDS) and the Gas Registration Data Service (GRDS) - we will look at the cumulative performance since Switching Programme go-live.
The Enquiry Services, including the Electricity Enquiry Service (EES) and the Gas Enquiry Service (GES) - we will look at the cumulative performance since Switching Programme go-live.
Other REC Services such as the Metering Auditor and Energy Theft Tip Off Service (ETTOS) are not within the remit of Performance Assurance. These are services procured and managed directly by RECCo.
Key Reflections - REC Code Manager Services
The REC Code Manager’s performance throughout 2023 has been positive. Overall, targets were met or exceeded for 97% of the metrics that apply. In the areas of Accession and Entry Management, all targets were met with a 100% success rate throughout. In the area of Stakeholder Management, the Helpdesk obtained a 90% cumulative satisfaction rating against the target of 75% satisfaction. Similarly, in the area of Training satisfaction rating, the Code Manager has obtained a cumulative rating of 98% against the target of 75%.
Whilst performance against service levels is good overall, RECCo and the Code Manager have initiatives in place to drive improvement based on stakeholder feedback, including in Change and technology User Experience. The PAB is monitoring progress on improvements in Change processes, including reviewing performance statistics in this area quarterly.
Key Reflections - Centralised Registration Service and Enquiry Services
There have been various challenges since Switching Programme go-live with the performance of Switching Services, particularly CSS and the Switching Operator. We have summarised below the relative performance of these services.
Based on the performance of these services our focus has been on the following areas:
Having effective incentives for Service Providers, particularly the CRS Performance Charge.
Unplanned outages, and how the Service Providers respond to address the root cause and prevent recurrence. Following unplanned outages relating to GES and CSS, system operations resumed within one hour in all but three instances which occurred in the months of January, February and October 2023.
User Support, which is an area that is improving, but requires further focus. Since Switching Programme go-live, the average response time for incident tickets has been 96%, while the average resolution time for incident tickets has been 89%.
Addressing problems that cause missing messages, which have been the key cause of issues for other participants. Our main interventions here have been in applying Performance Assurance Techniques (PATs) in relation to an incident that resulted in missing messages, as well as working jointly with RECCo on a detailed lessons learned review in relation to a major incident in CSS.
As depicted in Figure 1: User Support Average Performance, Service Providers’ response time performance has been better than the resolution time performance. When performance drops were identified, the Code Manager engaged with the relevant Service Providers to discuss the root cause and ensure relevant mitigation actions were being undertaken. Following Through performance assurance intervention, we have evidenced an improvement in the performance and the Code Manager will continue to monitor the resolution times.
Registration Service Requests - Volume Analysis
While we don’t obtain direct measures of capacity, we do receive statistics on switching volumes. In particular, to understand capacity, we look at whether the Switching Services are operating at ‘below average’, ‘above average but below peak’, or ‘above peak’ volumes. Specific volumes for each of these are defined in the REC.
The figure below shows the breakdown of the number of hours in each of the volume buckets from September 2022 to December 2023:
This shows that the services are operating as anticipated, while in the last six months we have been seeing some operational hours with above-peak volumes. It's worth noting that our switching volumes have been steadily increasing, but they still remain relatively low. With the resumption of mass switching and increase in registration request volumes expected from the Market-wide Half Hourly Settlement Programme migration activity, it is essential that REC Services are ready to ramp up to cope with the increase and have robust capacity planning in place. This will be an area of focus in the coming months.
Cumulative Service Levels
On average, the Service Providers successfully met 98% of their required Service Level targets. However, there was a noticeable decline in performance during October 2023, which was attributed to a Major Incident within the Gas Enquiry Service (GES) that occurred during the deployment of a change. RECCo and the Code Manager understand the root cause of this issue, and are working with the GES Provider to prevent recurrence. As seen in the chart above, the performance bounced back the following month. The Code Manager is closely monitoring the Service Providers' performance in meeting the Service Level targets to provide consistent and reliable service delivery.
REC Performance Assurance Intervention
In cases where performance issues have been identified, the Code Manager has utilised Performance Assurance Techniques (PATs) to intervene. One example to demonstrate the effectiveness of the PATs applied was the introduction of economic incentive regime for the Centralised Registration Service (CRS) Provider from 01 April 2023. We have seen a notable improvement in performance since that date, and some of the service levels that were not being met are now close to being met. We have set out the overall trend below:
Along with the PATs, the Code Manager also conducts direct assurance on the Service Providers’ monthly reported figures to assess the accuracy of the reported data. This provides additional confidence on the integrity of the performance data reported, with any issues highlighted and addressed.
Code Manager performance has been consistent across 2023.
System availability has been consistent and no major unavailability has been noted.
Registration Service Requests volumes are mostly within average expected ranges. However, we are seeing an uptick in volumes, which we anticipate will grow further with increases in switching activity and MHHS migration. It is essential that REC Services have robust capacity planning in place.
The CRS Performance Charge introduced from 01 April 2023 has catalysed improvement in performance and is proving to be an effective measure.
RECCo and the Code Manager have overseen the response to the Switching P1 incident, including incident recovery and lessons learnt. We continue to track progress on agreed actions.
We will continue to monitor and report on Service Provider Performance.