Enabling Visibility Into the Most
Important Service of All:
Our Power Grid.

Can you imagine the amount of maintenance it takes to keep a power grid running at peak efficiency across multiple states? You can’t maintain most grid equipment while power is running through it, so to perform the massive amount of maintenance the grid requires, some of this equipment has to be brought offline. But you can’t just turn off the power for thousands of customers…

The Customer: A Fortune 500 Utility Provider

Our utility client maintains a power grid that delivers energy to millions of customers.


Their equipment, be it a transformer, transmission line, or substation, must occasionally be taken offline for regular maintenance. Major system maintenance is an expensive, highly-regulated process, and is often scheduled years in advance. An unforeseen or late-breaking issue can set off a cascade of delays, and expensive rescheduling and relocating of both crews and equipment.

The Problem: Their Data was Trapped

A mountain of data is needed to maintain a power grid this vast. This data was located in a sophisticated forecasting system which posed multiple problems.

First, it could only be accessed by a small number of people. A burden this heavy ideally wouldn’t rest on the shoulders of only a few. Secondly, the data had to be accessed through a variety of complicated models and systems, requiring a lot of difficult and manual correlations for the users to understand what they were seeing.


In essence, their data was good
— but it was trapped.

Our utility client needed a new way to understand and access their data to provide better visibility into their most critical assets.

Learn how we did it

“Simple Thread’s design process helped us see this new software as a coherent product, identifying how we could expose the tools in a usable and accessible way.”
– Reliability Engineer, A Major Utility Company

How is existing data used?

Understanding how data was used by the transmission group was critical to our partnership. We needed to know, both deeply and broadly, how existing data enabled individuals to do their jobs.

We believe that asking better questions provides better answers and results in stronger, longer-lasting solutions. We needed to understand the fundamental value of the data so we could design a tool that would transform their team’s effectiveness and capabilities.

Which findings should be prioritized?

Once we had a solid grasp of the needs and challenges every stakeholder faced, we began to map out the processes and interactions that would allow us to reach a shared understanding of how users would interact with the system.

Through a lot of refinement of identifying pain points and opportunities with team members, we were able to conceptualize how a user would ideally interact with the system. User needs were translated into system features, which were prioritized to give everyone a high-resolution picture of where the project was headed.

How do we give our utility client something to respond to?

To prevent costly mistakes and delays, we leveraged our user needs and stories to design sketches and wireframes that would allow us to iterate quickly.

Our goal in building a prototype was to create a shared understanding of how data will be presented in our tool and how users will interact with the application. Listening to the engineers’ thoughtful reactions and considerations helped us validate our assumptions.

This iterative approach allowed us all to refine our thinking so we could address critical issues early, resulting in a product that was better than anyone imagined.

“Simple Thread’s product design process took us past what we ever imagined we could deliver.”
– Manager, Electric Transmission, A Major Utility Company

Calipers and other measuring tools

The questions have been answered, now it’s time to build.

The new system needed to support displaying data studies with tens of thousands of rows all while staying performant and responsive. It had to provide progress and notifications on data studies that could take many hours to generate. All of this took careful consideration and effort, but the resulting application experience was worth the investment.

To meet our client’s requirements, the application needed to operate within their environment, integrating directly with their security to allow users to seamlessly access the system. The application was designed to be containerized, so we could efficiently engineer the application outside of our client’s environment, and then easily hand it off for deployment without a lot of manual environment configuration.

We continually delivered the solution as it was engineered, so we could respond to feedback and issues as quickly as possible.

“Simple Thread unlocked the existing program and transformed it into a platform that has saved our team countless hours of effort and created a pathway for future innovation.”

Reliability Engineer, A Major Utility Company

The Results: Everyone was thrilled with the outcome!

The resulting product was better than anyone could have imagined.

Here are some highlights
  • Provides high-level data, with the ability to deep dive into specifics
  • Models future grid maintenance through a single usable interface
  • Allows a multitude of users to easily access and understand critically needed data
  • Increases the efficacy of crews and equipment potentially saving our client millions of dollars