How can we improve the Code Manager and Enquiry Services?
In June and July, we hosted three workshops where we gathered feedback on the Code Manager and Enquiry Services. We wanted to ensure that both meet the needs of our users and provide the best service. At the events, we asked what is working well, what doesn’t work currently and what users would like to see in the future.
We’ve now analysed all the feedback we received from these events. There weren’t any huge surprises – a key theme from all three events was that we should prioritise getting the fundamentals of each service right before we consider any expansion. Below, you can find out more about the feedback we received and how we will use this to inform our procurement projects.
The key feedback
Thank you to all the participants who attended our workshops. These events enabled us to gather more feedback than any other method. All the workshops highlighted the Code Manager service as a key area for us to focus on improving. In contrast, participants were largely happy with the current functioning of the Enquiry Services.
Considerations for the Enquiry Services
The comments from workshop participants reflected those Users who mostly use GES Online or the EES Portal and those who used the API.
The online/portal Users had a largely positive experience, with praise for the layout and information held. Workshop participants were agnostic as to whether the GES and EES should be consolidated as part of future procurement activity but strongly preferred a single log-on, with some support for a ‘dual view’.
Consolidating Enquiry Services
In response to the presentation of RECCo’s plans for the evolution of Enquiry Services and the introduction of an API Gateway, workshop participants agreed that API developers would see benefits in the use of an API Gateway, but this was tempered with a concern about any impacts this could have on existing users. This risk has been fed into our projects, and RECCo will ensure that we consider and mitigate user impacts as far as possible.
Some participants noted that even though switching activity is low, there is still significant demand on EES and GES API queries, with one participant noting that for every quote (before a Switch takes place), 6-10 API calls are required to the Enquiry Services. Although the Enquiry Services are coping well with current demand, there was concern that the capacity of the EES and GES would need to be increased quickly if Switching activity picks up. These volumetrics will be considered in future procurement activity, and we have initiated an investigation into the near/short-term impacts of increased switching activity and API usage.
Maintenance and Service Desk
Participants expressed a desire for a ‘one service desk’ approach. RECCo’s current operating model requires users to report incidents and issues to the individual Service Provider’s service desk for first-line support, and, if necessary, escalations can be reported via the REC Portal. It was suggested that some clarity on the incident reporting process would be welcome, and RECCo agreed to investigate how we could make the process more transparent.
How can we improve the Code Manager service?
We received a lot of feedback about the Code Manager, which we have summarised and divided into themes below. These themes are change and release management, general feedback, party management, performance assurance, stakeholder engagement and technology.
We are in discussions with the Code Manager to consider short-term improvements to each area of feedback that can be taken forward and consider longer-term changes that may need to be considered in future procurement activity. We will shortly share details with stakeholders on measures that will be carried forward immediately to address feedback received on the service.
Change and release management
The REC change process has not yet met our vision of being flexible and efficient. We aimed to reduce the burden on the industry to provide resources to drive changes forward but have not found the right balance between empowering the Code Manager to lead solution development and using expertise and insight from across the industry. We are encouraged to hear that the introduction of the REC Issues Group has been welcomed by stakeholders as a useful forum to discuss key industry issues. You might have also noticed some movement on the Change Register as the Code Manager works to reduce the number of stagnant Change Proposals that had formed a backlog. Learnings from these recent activities are feeding into the Code Manager’s more comprehensive work to remodel and re-energise the REC Change process, which includes refining the approach to prioritisation, engaging wider industry where appropriate and developing more flexible paths to implementation so that whether a change is simple or more complex, it’s assessed through a process which is proportionate but continues to be robust. We’ll update you on the change process improvements in the coming weeks.
Workshop participants highlighted that the process for qualification and maintenance for some participants could be perceived as overly administrative and onerous. Qualification of market roles and maintenance of this qualification is important to ensure market participants operate to a minimum acceptable standard that does not pose a material risk to the market or consumers. However, we recognise the need for this activity to be proportionate and risk-based, as with all assurance activities. We will review this feedback and work with the Code Manager to identify potential process improvements and efficiencies.
Our Performance Assurance Framework applies to both REC Parties and REC service providers and is designed to mitigate market risks and incentivise performance, leading to positive outcomes for consumers. A large part of this process includes collecting data from the industry from which the Code Manager draws insight. Stakeholders told us that the data request and submission process can sometimes be onerous and appear disproportionate to the risks identified. The Code Manager is reviewing its tools for requesting data to ensure that it’s only asking what’s needed and that you can clearly link this to the market risks we have identified.
It was pleasing to hear that most REC Parties highly value the support they receive from their Operational Account Manager (OAM). We heard that this service would also greatly benefit wider REC Service Users who do not currently have access to this service. So we are pleased to say that we are expanding the service/ Very shortly, Non-Party REC Service Users will be contacted to onboard with their OAM.
The large number and variety of parties within the market mean that not all REC activity is relevant to everyone. We understand that parties would like to receive news and information tailored to their role within the industry. We are trialling shorter-term methods of helping you get to relevant information quicker through changes to the REC bulletin. We are considering how we can adapt the REC Portal to offer you a personalised view whilst exploring longer-term solutions to provide more targeted and relevant communications.
The REC Portal and EMAR are digital products intended to allow you to self-serve and easily navigate your obligations and interactions with the REC. While stakeholders see benefits in principle, the current user experience is sometimes disjointed and falls short of intuitive.
The introduction of the Digital Navigator has eased some of the navigational difficulties in EMAR, but feedback suggests that this can still be improved to make things easier for users.
Our primary focus is to review and improve the user journey across both platforms. Validating proposed changes and improvements with users will play a key role in ensuring these platforms can be successfully transformed. We will invite stakeholders to collaborate with us as this work progresses.
The next steps
The workshops provided an excellent opportunity to hear about and plan to address immediate issues. We have identified several short-term improvements to each feedback area that we are taking forward and will communicate further details on this shortly. However, we recognise that additional work may need to be done to assess the future requirements of both services, which is also considered part of future procurement activity.