Applying data management best practices

Reducing wasted CapEx by standardizing and digitizing equipment data


When employees were routinely missing necessary equipment in the field – or expenses were going to inaccurate orders – our client needed a solution to standardize and update information while ensuring easy access across their department. See how our team applied data management best practices to modernize their approach to documenting material specifications.


As one of the largest utility companies in the United States, SoCalGas operates numerous departments that all need efficient access to specialized tools, equipment and materials. To ensure employees are purchasing the right materials, companies in the power and utilities industry rely on material specifications (MSPs).

In many regulated industries like utilities, MSPs are used to document the specific vendors and products employees are required to use when procuring supplies. In recent years, teams across SoCalGas faced challenges in their procurement process. Several directors of MSPs included outdated, inaccurate or conflicting information.

This is a common challenge utility companies face – and one that needs a modern, sustainable solution. Not only does this issue reduce efficiency and increase unnecessary costs, but it also puts companies like SoCalGas out of compliance with federal and state regulations.

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For this project, Over J was contacted by a SoCalGas department leader overseeing a directory for three classes of MSPs for clamps the company uses. Originally, the department manager’s main focus was to organize and consolidate clamp information across all documentation and ensure compliance with state regulations like Best Practice 22 (BP22) from Senate Bill 1371 (SB1371). 

We also needed to verify and rectify material codes in SAP, ensuring that each MSP listed currently approved manufacturers and updated part numbers. This required data mining MSP information from SAP and then using our findings to compare SAP and MSP records for discrepancies.

After completing this phase of the project, we realized that improving our client’s procurement processes long-term would require a more in-depth solution. Our consultants discussed their proposal with the SoCalGas team and began the process of cataloging the approving MSP specification to update the existing documentation.

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Once the stakeholders approved the updated plan, our team began taking steps to gather the information needed to transform the existing MSP documentation. This included:
• Conducting a gap analysis of all the inconsistencies between the SAP and MSP documents
• Using this information to develop a standardized taxonomy and then updating all records, contacting manufacturers for additional details when needed
• Standardizing material descriptions to ensure necessary information was included
• Visiting warehouses to verify and take reference photos of all materials to include in MSP records
Many of the existing records had included materials that were not approved or were from unapproved manufacturers or manufacturers that no longer existed. Additionally, many materials descriptions were written by other departments. As a result, they often lacked the technical detail that technicians and other employees needed to make purchasing decisions. 

By updating these records and developing a standardized taxonomy to describe all materials, our team helped the department simplify future inquiries and orders for materials while ensuring accurate inventory and compliance with SB1371 BP22.

What's next?

During this process, our consultants took the initiative to take the solution we delivered to the next level. While creating the taxonomy for organizing the MSPs, we applied that system to develop and deliver an interactive catalog to more clearly document all the clamps available for purchase. 

This digital library makes it easier for SoCalGas employees to navigate through available clamps by material classification so they can find the information they need quickly. 

We designed it to be transferable to material classifications that fall outside the purview of our client’s department so that it can be scaled across departments as needed. Our team also proposed the future creation of a portal to make the digital library searchable to improve its usability and employee efficiency. 

That’s the benefit of working with Over J – our commitment to innovation ensures we develop transformative solutions that help your organization achieve more.


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