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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are responses to the most frequently asked questions SoftSmiths receives.

What does SoftSmiths do?

How does SoftSmiths do this?

Is a transaction management system really crucial?

What makes SoftSmiths different from other transaction and risk management companies?

What products does SoftSmiths offer?

How does SoftSmiths impact its customers?

Who are your customers?

How does SoftSmiths impact ROI?

What makes SoftSmiths a stable, smart choice in an uncertain economy?

Who is your biggest competitor in the marketplace?

What is SoftSmiths’ revenue model?

What is your approach to research and development?

Can SoftSmiths software prevent power outages like consumers saw in California in 2001?

Can your software help identify wash trades?

How can silos be integrated within an organization using SoftSmiths technology

 
 

What does SoftSmiths do?
SoftSmiths helps energy marketers sell, purchase, trade and deliver energy by integrating and delivering scalable, adaptable and tailored energy transaction management systems for Utilities, Municipals, Investor Owned Utilities, LDCs, Power and Gas Marketers, Generators, Producers, and Pipeline companies. We facilitate energy trading, transaction processing, risk measurement and decision support within the wholesale energy markets. Our solutions and services automate the manual processes of our customers, eliminate redundant data entry, reduce settlement cycles, increase business visibility across the enterprise and help reduce risk allowing users to make faster and more informed decisions that can improve profitability, operational efficiency and cash flow.

   
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How does SoftSmiths do this?
SoftSmiths has an in-depth understanding of industry business practices and a track record of solving the complex challenges brought on by deregulation. These resources, combined with our intellectual property and consulting services, allow us to deliver integrated software solutions designed to give our customers an edge in the competitive marketplace. We then take it one step further with our ongoing commitment to research and development and our rigorous standards for quality assurance and customer service which include a Customer Engagement Method that recognizes the use of the technology as being as important as the technology itself. With more than 100 years of combined industry experience, SoftSmiths has been able to develop proven solutions that fit our customers’ needs like a glove.
   
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Is a transaction management system really crucial?

The tools we provide are a “must-have” because they are focused on the backbone of our customers’ business. These tools designed to integrate seamlessly into a customer’s systems to handle transactions from deal capture to settlement supporting straight through processing. Our customers need a scalable and adaptable transaction management tool to compete successfully in a deregulated environment. SoftSmiths solutions are critical in that they enforce and support business processes, thereby improving information control, communications, visibility and efficiencies.
   
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What makes SoftSmiths different from other transaction and risk management companies?

A New Solution for a New Era –
The SoftSmiths solution was developed from the ground up using industry standards for reliability, performance, openness and portability. We strive to make our technology conform to business, not vice versa, and we support changing business practices through an unmatched level of adaptability, flexibility and scalability.

Ease of Use – The interfaces and features of SoftSmiths’ solutions address the business users’ every-day needs and are laid out logically and intuitively. SoftSmiths is not a rigid, one-size-fits-all solution and allows users to slice and dice information to be presented in a way that makes sense for their business.

Flexibility, Adaptability & Scalability – SoftSmiths’ solutions evolve with the marketplace to solve real, ongoing challenges for customers. We take the time to understand the role of each business unit and mold products around them to help customers now and adapt to their needs in the future, avoiding re-writing software every time business rules change.

Industry Knowledge – Few companies can boast energy expertise similar to what the SoftSmiths team can offer. As thought leaders in the transaction management sector, SoftSmiths has a thorough understanding of the industry standards and regulations that impact its customers and can work with them to address challenges and opportunities to make them more successful.

Service & Support – Our approach to technology and customer service is based on our commitment to developing true partnerships with our customers. SoftSmiths offers a full spectrum of services and allows customers to choose from variable levels of support to mold solutions that fit their company’s needs like a glove.
   
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What products does SoftSmiths Offer?
SoftSmiths offers software and solutions, implementation and technology services, business practice services and customized solutions to fit the unique needs of various organizations. We have distinct product suites that focus on different market participants:

SoftSmiths Power – This application solves practical business problems for Load Serving Entities, Purchasing Selling Entities and Municipal Utilities. SoftSmiths Power provides Load Forecasting, Resource & Portfolio Management, Real-time and Term Trading, Multi-Commodity Deal Capture, Net Position and "What-If" Impact Analysis, Volume and Mark-to-Market reporting, P&L reporting, Scheduling, Transmission Reservation and Electronic Tagging. In the Middle Office, SoftSmiths Power capabilities include Operational and resource constraints, Risk Measurement, Controls and Monitoring, while the Back-office provides financial settlement, invoicing, payment tracking and reporting.

SoftSmiths Gas – This product suite provides Front, Middle and Back-Office capabilities for Natural Gas Marketers, LDC, Utilities and Pipeline companies. SoftSmiths Gas provides Deal Capture, Transportation Management, Storage Management and Risk Management. In the Middle Office, SoftSmiths Gas capabilities include Operational and resources constraints, Risk Measurement, Controls and Monitoring, Nominations and Pipeline Imbalances, while the Back-office provides Contract Management, Confirmations, Financial Settlement, Invoicing and reporting.

SoftSmiths Transmission – SoftSmiths Transmission is a collection of business-critical, robust and easy-to-use interactive applications designed for RTOs, ISOs and transmission providers. Our product offers a scalable and flexible business technology solution that seamlessly integrates scheduling transmission services, ATC management, Interchange checkout, EMS integration and accounting/reporting.

SoftSmiths Electronic Tagging The Electronic Tagging Portal Suite (ETPS) allows energy marketers to communicate with one another in a manner that is compliant with NERC regulations. The three components of ETPS, e-Agent, e-Authority and e-Approval, enable load serving entities, purchasing/selling entities, generation producers, transmission providers and control area operators to create, verify, approve and manage energy delivery transactions using the Internet as its platform.

SoftSmiths Markets – Through a single application SoftSmiths Market allows market participants to connect and communicate transaction requests from the system to any number of markets based on the Standard Markets Design model.

e-Link - The e-Link modules provide critical interfaces between our SoftSmiths Gas, SoftSmiths Power, SoftSmiths Transmission and SoftSmiths Electronic Tagging Portal Suite applications and other business systems, using XML schemas consistent with electric industry and internet standards such as XML schema, SOP and SMXP. With our e-Link product, we provide an XML framework that enables you to seamlessly integrate back-office systems by deploying business adapters for risk management, trading, scheduling, generation, load, meter, and NERC E-Tag information. e-Link interfaces are designed using publish and subscribe, so transfers are event driven and occur as events take place, thus critical information is transmitted in real time, optimizing decision-making processes enterprise-wide. This enables organizations to manage risk and optimize usage of assets in a highly dynamic environment.
   
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How does SoftSmiths impact its customers?
Increases Operational Efficiency and Reliability – SoftSmiths’ solutions improve visibility into resources and obligations in real time as the volume and complexity of transactions increase. The resulting reliability, reduced cost and minimization of errors enhances the ability of SoftSmiths’ customers to plan, forecast and execute upon reliable and timely information – turning risk into opportunity.

Reduced Settlement Cycles – The accurate and timely back-office information provided by SoftSmiths helps customers limit the number of disputes in the settlement process. This, combined with an enhanced capability to monitor the market and contractual requirements automatically results in increased speed to booked revenues and improved cash flow.

Reduced Complexity – SoftSmiths delivers an increased efficiency of processes throughout the enterprise and real-time knowledge of positions that results in reduced costs and increased asset optimization of resources. The automation of processes eliminates redundant data entry and a single data repository enables all reporting activities and data transfers to be centralized in one place. In addition, the assignment, definition and enforcement of roles and responsibilities helps simplify the business process and improves the ability of SoftSmiths’ users to respond to regulatory requests
.

   
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Who are your customers?
A typical SoftSmiths customer is an asset-backed company with local and remote generation across multiple control areas that focuses on physical power deals, an area where SoftSmiths’ solutions excel. The company specifically targets Load Serving Entities (LSEs), Generation Production Entities (GPEs), Purchasing/Selling Entities, Transmission Providers and Control Area Operators. We help these companies update aging legacy systems, automate their trading processes and comply with new industry regulations. The common thread within our customer base is the need to integrate technology in way that optimizes assets and the desire to find a solution that fits our customers’ needs from deal capture to settlement, from cradle to grave. Examples of companies for whom we have successfully implemented SoftSmiths solutions include Bonneville Power Administration, Indianapolis Power & Light, Grant County Public Utility District and the Northern Indiana Public Service Company.
   
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How does SoftSmiths impact ROI?
By deploying SoftSmiths solutions, customers achieve measurable ROI by reducing their cost of doing business and avoiding unnecessary costs and penalties. With SoftSmiths, customers can grow revenues, improve cash flow, increase staff productivity and improve service quality for business partners and customers by streamlining processes, keeping current with evolving industry standards/regulations and having real-time access to business-critical information enterprise-wide. If an organization knows what its resources and obligations are in real time, it is better prepared to make decisions that can positively impact the health of the business. Having the power to make better-informed decisions impacts ROI immediately.
   
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What makes SoftSmiths a stable, smart choice in an uncertain economy?

We are a growing and profitable company, with developers and service professionals who understand the marketplace and business practices of our customers. SoftSmiths has become successful by identifying the needs of our customers and addressing them through our products and services. We remain committed to our core competency: providing transaction management solutions is all we do. With our track record of solving complex challenges for a broad base of industry-leading customers, we leverage our focus on transaction management to provide the most adaptable, easy-to-use products for transaction management available in the industry.
   
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Who is your biggest competitor in the marketplace?

There are a number of companies that compete in our space, but none that offer the unique combination of customized solutions and industry knowledge that we do. Those that claim transaction and risk management capabilities usually only provide an isolated island of solutions that are normally disparate. They are often more on the side of pure risk management or trading applications only. SoftSmiths focuses on providing customers solutions that make power move from point A to point B in the most efficient manner possible.
   
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What is SoftSmiths’ revenue model?
We generate revenue from three sources: software licenses, software maintenance and implementation revenues. The proportion of what each makes up of our total revenue varies based on the market and our customer base.
   
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What is your approach to research and development?

SoftSmiths is committed to research and development in business as well as technology. We do not adopt new technologies simply because they’re new. We identify the most accurate and refined tools available that will help our customers realize greater efficencies in their business. From the technology perspective, SoftSmiths focuses on utilizing components and processes that allow our solutions to remain cost-effective for all sizes of energy companies. This means we often turn away from new, exotic tools that would require our customers to make huge initial investments to take advantage of our technology. On the business side, our team members attend various work groups where we follow, track and participate in developing new business practices and standards and keep up with industry news and developments. By combining business and technology goals in research and development, SoftSmiths minimizes the disconnect between research and implementation that many companies experience.
   
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Can SoftSmiths software prevent power outages like consumers saw in California in 2001?

Our technology provides information-gathering tools that allow energy traders to have access to real-time information regarding weather, usage and other aspects affecting demand for power. The information SoftSmiths provides can be used to facilitate more accurate scheduling in the day-ahead and hour-ahead markets, which could help avoid outages like those experienced in California last year. It is important to remember this is a complicated market driven by many factors.
   
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Can your software help identify wash trades?
First and foremost, we encourage our customers to implement policies and procedures that reward ethical behavior as the first line of defense against such activities. However, in the event of a wash trade, the transparency into all aspects of trading for the company provided by the SoftSmiths system can alert members of the organization to such unethical behavior.
   
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How can silos be integrated within an organization using SoftSmiths technology?

Often organizations implement tools that do not integrate well into existing technologies, thereby creating silos. SoftSmiths helps customers by keeping this issue top-of-mind throughout the business process, beginning with research and development. Instead of waiting until implementation to confront silos, we continually monitor the industry for technologies that will allow our customers to avoid them in the first place, making integration of SoftSmiths tools painless. Where other organizations may try to push a system on top of these disparate silos in an attempt to integrate them, SoftSmiths approaches the challenge from a business perspective. We take the time to understand the role of each business unit and mold our products around them to deliver a flexible solution that will help our customers now and adapt to their needs in the future. For example, SoftSmiths uses e-Link in all its products. e-Link is an XML framework that enables customers to seamlessly integrate back-office systems by deploying business adapters for risk management, trading, scheduling, generation, metering and tagging. Thus, silos are addressed even before the solution is implemented.
   
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