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5 Problems with ETRM

At Molecule we're making software that, among other things, solves many problems associated with Energy Trading & Risk Management (ETRM) systems. Here's some of what we see, that we're working to cure.

  1. Cost -- ETRM systems are expensive. With license fees, maintenance fees, and consulting fees, an ETRM system can easily cost $3.5 million over 5 years (and often many times that price!)

  2. Master Data -- Getting multiple systems across an organization to speak the same language can be hard. Does "BP" refer to "BP CORP," "BP CANADA," or "BP NORTH AMERICA?" Enterprise systems often don't make this any easier by failing to make a stand as to what language they speak. Instead, vendors ask your company for their preference--which inevitably varies throughout the organization, and may result in a multi-year services contract for master data management.

  3. Organizational Pain -- I don't know of a single ETRM implementation that has gone well. That said, bringing any organization on board with a piece of enterprise software is usually painful. ETRM systems are often tasked with solving an operational problem that involves lots of people. Mashing their workflows (not to mention their spreadsheets) together can be a task that requires dozens of people to change their daily workflow. It can take years, all the while disrupting department after department.

  4. Trade Capture -- Wholesale energy deals are complex beasts, with dozens of parameters. ETRM's solution? Lots of drop-down boxes, text fields, and check-boxes.

  5. Dubious Business Value -- ETRM systems are often sold as compliance systems (i.e., to "check a box"). Call me crazy, but I think the right reason to spend large amounts of money and time on software should be that it somehow makes your business better. Increases revenues. Prevents losses. Saves time. Compliance systems aren't targeted to do any of these -- and their results therefore don't get benchmarked against these targets.