Throughout its processes, information is rapidly exchanged between ERCOT, market participants, regulators, and the public. Safe and reliable operations depend on accurate, timely information, so it is critical for ERCOT to use specific and well-defined language in its interactions. However, to enable effective, competitive, and non-discriminatory wholesale and retail markets, information sharing between market participants is strictly regulated by federal and state law. To remain compliant, ERCOT’s interactions stay narrowly focused, and communications are limited to only the information that is necessary for successful electricity delivery operations. Consequently, ERCOT is challenged by conflicting and restricted terminology use that frustrates traditional solutions to its traditional records and information management program – duplicated content maintained in separate repositories with inconsistently applied classification and retention guidelines.
For instance, if multiple departments use the same term – for example “load” – to describe different things in different contexts, that term’s use is often conflicting. When content that uses a term remains limited to specific parties, the way much of ERCOT’s communications do, then everyone knows which context the term “load” is intended. But when managing content across the entire organization, there are too many things tagged with the same word and now it is unclear what each use meant. We had two ways to solve this problem at ERCOT:
Define more specific terminology, so it is clear what is meant instead of leaving it up to a user’s personal frame of reference.
Identify additional terms that can be applied in addition to “load” – for example, generation, transmission, distribution – and then used in combination to provide context about which “load” is intended.
Prior to engaging Access Sciences, ERCOT established the Enterprise Content Align Program (ECAP) with the express purpose of reliably getting the right content to the right people. ECAP was developed to define a consistent set of information management principles, processes, and systems to increase effective communication within ERCOT, as well as with market participants, regulators, and the public. As the foundation for ECAP, ERCOT engaged Access Sciences to perform a critical first step – to define what terminology should be used when and by whom – an Enterprise Taxonomy.