windmills
Predictive Analytics

Today’s utility landscape is changing and the challenges of distributed generation, microgrids and performance-based rate making are creating the need for more complex data—which smart grid devices are collecting. What you do with that data is the difference between dying as a utility of the past and meeting the efficiency goals that the market and regulations will demand for a utility of the future.

Big Data, What’s the Big Deal?

Analytics is not a new concept. Using data to drive our actions, like using Key Performance Indicators to improve business performance, is a common objective. As they say, “what gets measured gets done.” What’s changing is the timeframe for receiving information back, and the amazing quantity of information that is coming back.

Data is being created at such a rapid rate today. It’s estimated that 90 percent of the data in the world has been created in the last two years. This data comes from everywhere within the energy and utilities industry. It should not come as a surprise that utilities are increasing the quantity and volume of measured events. A utility with 100,000 meters that offer 15-minute intervals for data collection translates to 111 data points per second, captured and stored, for just a single channel of data from the meters. Add 25-30 data points per second taken for switches, reclosers, capacitors, line regulators, sensors and automated substations. This scenario accumulates around 4.5-15 billion data points per year for a utility with 100,000 meters. That’s big data.

As new systems are put in place, the series of questions relating to data becomes: 

  • What data do we have? 
  • What can we do with it? 
  • What business processes should be changed as a result of the insight from the data? 
  • What additional data would provide further insight? 

These questions then lead to additional planning, legal, and governance questions. How much of this information needs to be stored and for how long? What is the utility’s data governance model? What is a utility’s data privacy and security strategy?

West Monroe Partners' Advanced Analytics practice recommends taking a fresh strategic approach to data planning rather than an incremental approach. The underlying concept of the smart grid transformation is that the processes and infrastructure used for managing the grid in the 20th century are not suited for managing the grid in the 21st century. A new data strategy is needed.

How do you get started?
The first thing needed is a framework, technology roadmap, purpose, and data governance. Start with a modest plan. What can you measure that will help you? Set it up. Measure it. Automate data collection. Automate reporting or actions. Don’t think of data as a destination with a final conclusion. Think of it as a continual service improvement journey. Think it, prove it, learn from it, refine it, and then expand it. Repeat.


Smart X
Implementing “Smart” infrastructure, systems, and business/governing practices are no longer industry buzz words; they are a necessity 

Today’s smart utilities and smart cities face similar challenges; increasing global competition, economic uncertainties, financial pressures, environmental sustainability concerns, aging infrastructure and changing regulatory requirements. The smart utility and smart city have to address these challenges aggressively; to operate efficiently in this perplexing and constantly shifting environment.

Smart utilities and smart cities are discovering new ways to add these efficiencies by leveraging data analytics and asset management tools, implementing sustainable business practices, establishing new public-private partnerships and optimizing key work flows and new business models.  

What does “Smart” mean?

Smart Utilities (Electric, Water & Gas)
The smart utility is not just implementing “smart” grids and metering systems; they are tackling tough business issues and gaining momentum through transformational projects that:

  • Address their aging infrastructure and workforce
  • Build new partnerships through shared service offerings like smart street lights, sensors and others
  • Implement new systems and revamped business processes to handle distribution automation, intelligent substations, outage management, water loss, leak detection and pipeline repair/replacement 
  • Leveraging data analytics to improve customer satisfaction and retention 
  • Manage the proliferation of customer distributed generation and load impacts via automated processes with the help of products like, ConnecttheGrid
Smart Cities
A smart city should drive synergies across departments through shared technologies that:

  • Improve customer service through technologies that reduce citizen and business effort while encouraging citizen participation
  • Reduce system duplications by eliminating redundant systems across city departments
  • Efficiently utilize assets through data-driven asset management tools and KPI focused governance
  • Establish public-private partnerships to drive down costs, drive sustainability and attract new business
Smart utilities and cities partner with industry experts and leaders
By partnering with West Monroe Partners, you will receive the experience of our industry leaders who understand how smart grids and smart cities operate. Our team can develop your “smart” strategy roadmap and business case by assessing the current state, establishing a vision for the future, detailing the costs and financial benefits and create a realistic and attainable path to reach the desired future state.

West Monroe has a dedicated Energy and Utilities practice with experts in distributed generation, cyber security, utility telecom, utility system integration, smart street lights and sensors, regulatory compliance, electric, water and gas utility transformation and smart grid intelligence solutions.  

West Monroe is committed to helping cities leverage technology to better serve citizens, improving quality of life and foster local economic growth. West Monroe helps cities provide better service, greater efficiency, increased safety, improved resource conservation, environmental sustainability, and the ability to adapt proactively to changing situations. This includes increased access to systems and data that enables greater benefits across city departments. 

Executive Advisory Services

Utility leadership challenges are increasing daily. New regulations are challenging legacy practices and business models. Increasing customer expectations are raising the bar on performance. Technology choices and integration are more complex. Both workforce and assets are aging. Stakeholder concerns impact environmental, community, and economic decisions. Executives need to stay current, focused on opportunities and combating challenges in the face of change.

Through the uncommon blend of business consultants and deep technologists, West Monroe Partners offers innovative and tailored initiatives that address a wide array of these executive concerns. Our solutions are practical and build on the strategies and unique regulatory environments of today’s utilities. We contribute to the success of utilities in the following areas where we continue to push the envelope on relevant and sustainable solutions:   

  • Clean Power Plan (section 111(d) Clean Air Act): We provide thought leadership & analytics to help impacted parties comply with, and take advantage of emerging opportunities brought about by the CPP.
  • Customer Operations: We provide best-in-class methods, processes, and procedures for improving the “meter-to-cash” customer experience by creating new service offerings, improving customer communications/contact centers, and improving the overall customer satisfaction.
  • Emerging Technologies: We provide technology landscape market intelligence and implications for the utility business model and operations, including business case analysis, innovative regulatory strategies, road-mapping, program management, and business transformation support.
  • Mergers & Acquisitions: We help companies prepare corporate development strategies and plans, and help buyers and sellers identify and realize synergies through integration, operational improvements, technology innovations, platform rationalizations, and overall business transformation.
  • Performance Management: We help utilities develop performance based regulatory strategies & models to socialize with regulators, develop implementation plans, and assist with execution, including designing metrics and key performance indicators, setting incremental revenue requirements and cost recovery.
  • Sustainability: We help organizations unlock long-term value in cost savings, market standing & reputation.

We are truly living in challenging times in the utility industry. West Monroe’s experienced team includes former executives, deep technologists, and industry thought leaders. We offer sound advice and bring proven tools and solutions to bear on your most pressing strategic concerns. We help you develop a new and innovative perspective, a swift and collaborative response, and a response for your unique situation.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Changing regulatory, financial, and business needs directly impact corporate development initiatives. Utility Merger and Acquisition (M&A) activities today are complex and occurring for different reasons. Are you looking to:

  • Diversify business and fuel portfolios?
  • Expand customer-oriented capabilities?
  • Manage the costs of energy delivery?
  • Create synergies for the delivery of electric, gas and water service?
  • Strategize diversification as a response to changing regulatory demands? 
  • Breakup portfolios to produce higher returns?
West Monroe Partners works with your team to secure benefits & reduce costs 

Carve outs and integration pose significant challenges, with firms struggling to capture the benefits that drove the deal in the first place. Monetizing synergies and true post-merger integration can be derailed by overlooked details. Utility firms also need to prioritize the customer experience and operations. Managing your customers through the integration, maintaining positive stakeholder relations, and successfully integrating acquired systems and customers are critical success measures.

Our Mergers & Acquisitions practice supports a corporate development strategy and delivers planned synergies through integration planning and execution, operational improvements, new technology platform rationalizations, and overall business transformation - utilizing our proven M&A playbook and Integration Management Office (IMO) methodologies that have been honed on over 800 transactions for more than 125 strategic buyers.

Our services include:
  • People, process, tools and playbook assessments  to evaluate targets and execute integrations
  • Organizational strategy and performance alignment
  • Operational efficiency and business process optimization to increase productivity
  • Consolidation and integration of applications and data and/or migration to new environments
  • Key performance/metric definition for data-driven decision making and compliance
  • Comprehensive project management and planning 
Our pre-packaged Carve-Out Readiness & Execution (CORE) framework provides the greatest probability for a successful carve-out transaction and the quickest means to focus on value creation to meet the investment thesis objectives.  Our network of partners across the key business functions (HR, Finance & Accounting, and IT) allow our clients to easily fill leadership gaps and to quickly stand-up new processes and technology.

West Monroe combines industry, operations, and technology expertise to help Energy & Utility firms navigate the specific complexities of M&A. Proven Strategy. Outstanding Delivery. Trusted Results. Contact us today to learn more!


Operations Excellence

The success or failure of an Energy & Utilities program, regardless of its size or scope, is often determined by how the program is managed. From our years of experience serving energy and utility clients, we have identified strong Program Management Office (PMO) practices and tools and remain committed to not only providing our clients with superior program and project management leadership, but also tactically applying our knowledge, industry experience, processes, skills, tools, and techniques to ensure program success.  

Our commitment in this area is further demonstrated through the consolidation of our program management methodology and tools into the West Monroe Partners “Program Management Center of Excellence.” 

Most smart grid programs are not your traditional “plan and build” programs that utilities are accustomed to executing. These programs are transformational in nature and result in dynamic changes to the way utilities do business with their customers. New initiatives like a smart meter deployment program include new program elements that need to be addressed, including Business Process Optimization (BPO) and change management to ensure program success, address rapidly changing workforce requirements, and leverage the evolution of technology advancement. 

West Monroe Partners' Operations Excellence practice helps organizations define, implement, and measure programs to include:
  
  • Project and Program Management: Effective project and program management are essential to achieving business objectives including real-time tracking of schedule, cost, and work performance measurements.
  • Risk Management and Quality Assurance: Providing an integrated approach towards the oversight and management of tasks associated with a program ranging from mitigating strategic risks through having a robust QA process in place to manage the details.
  • Business Process Optimization: Align an organization's activities relating to people, process and technology more closely with its long-term vision, business strategy, and operational metrics.
  • Change Management: Organizational process and communications aimed at helping inform and educate stakeholders to accept and embrace changes within their business environment.
  • Organizational Strategy and Performance: Focusing on organizational strategy in the face of ambiguity, complexity, dynamic performance expectations, and increased interaction with customers.
  • Enterprise Resource Planning/Software Selection: Business transformation through implementation of packaged technology solutions including Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Mobile Workforce Management (MWFM) platforms.
  • Systems Integration: Helping our utility clients select, configure, build, and integrate many diverse operational and support systems.

Our systems integration specialists are well versed in current and future systems design, documentation and requirements gathering. We also have in depth experience with a variety of the systems that are the focal points of utilities in these initiatives, including Meter Data Management (MDM), Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), Demand Response Automation Server (DRAS), Outage Management System (OMS), Enterprise Asset Management System (EAMS), Data Repository and Historians, and others. 


Telecom and Cyber Security

For many of today’s utilities, aging telecommunication infrastructure and the advancement of grid modernization is forcing them to make massive telecommunication upgrades to maintain successful operation and maintenance of their grid. Numerous questions arise when approaching the upgrade of a utility’s telecommunications and security infrastructure along with many possible methodologies and technology solutions for getting it done. Creating a holistic view of the entire network with a telecommunication and security strategy roadmap is now a necessity to ensure success and meet business objectives.


We work with utilities to solve the challenges surrounding telecommunications infrastructure and security systems upgrade – from strategy, discovery, budgeting and design to implementation and training. Through the uncommon blend of business consultants and deep technologists, West Monroe has the experience to address any challenge that may arise and provide proven expertise to ensure success.

  • Field Area Network Roadmap: Developing a holistic telecommunications strategy and roadmap for the development of an IP-based, RF Field Area Network (FAN) is critical to the overall success of a project. We recognize there will likely be an array of business process impacts and legacy equipment integration that may result from the deployment of new network technologies. We guide businesses through these challenges. 
  • Field Area Network Design and Deployment: Many factors go into developing, designing and selecting the right technologies for a specific application and location. To determine the design and appropriate technologies our engineers review details such as cost, performance, reliability/trouble tickets, distance to existing fiber, strategic/critical sites, and security to name a few. We identify, select, and implement a FAN solution that enables improved communications (i.e., more bandwidth and extended coverage).
  • Utility Cyber Security: Facing new NERC-CIP standards and legacy equipment that may not support rigorous security requirements, many utilities struggle to become and remain compliant and secure. Even though smart grid security regulations and standards are still evolving, utilities cannot afford to wait until standards are finalized to begin developing their smart grid implementation strategy and plan. Build to the future with a customized cyber security for utilities handbook from our expert security specialists.
  • Analog (TDM) circuit migration to packet based technologies: Combining deep smart grid technology experience with legacy TDM, IP/MPLS and other packet technology knowledge and networking skills, we help utilities not only conceptualize the network, but architect, implement, deploy, test and manage it. 
While some vendors focus primarily on technology, we take a much broader view that addresses people, process, and technology considerations that drive success. Most importantly, our team has done this before with some of the nation’s largest utilities. Whatever the level of complexity, you can be confident you’re working with a partner that has been there before—including strategy, planning, budgeting, implementing, and managing one of the country’s first NERC/CIP compliant IP/MPLS backbone utility networks for an investor-owned utility. Talk to us about solutions that can save your utility money and improve services.

Customer Experience
Customer service expectations are rising rapidly and are driving new strategies, creating new processes, and leveraging new technologies in the utility landscape.

Customer satisfaction has become a driving concern in the utility industry as technology, market, and stakeholder pressures increasingly focus on the customer/utility interface. Faced with rapid change and increasing oversight, utilities must invest in new customer-driven services, benchmarking and diagnostics.
 

What is the best path for your utility?
Most utilities have traditionally treated customer service as a necessary evil to the “real” job of the organization: manage the assets to deliver reliable energy and water. Asset management programs use objective and quantifiable analytics that scale for tangible objects without feelings, and problem management is based on empirical results.

Customer service operations deal with people on both ends of the process (employees and customers), and with very few assets to manage, are often ignored from a return on investment perspective. These differences create natural barriers to success as utilities attempt to treat customer service in the same way they do assets.

West Monroe has developed a set of diagnostics and a holistic approach to the entire meter-to-cash process that provides utilities with a similar set of tools and insights to manage the dynamic customer relationship. Our Customer Experience practice views customer experience from the outside-in and executes customer-focused initiatives that drive engagement as well as top-line revenue. 

Proven solutions can support your utility and your customers in this new journey
We provide a unique approach and collaborative initiatives to leverage your own momentum:

  • Strategic alignment of your ideal customer experience vision and strategy through our Customer Maturity Model
  • Diagnostics and analytics around key processes on all channels across the entire customer journey
  • Granular benchmarks from peers and the leading best practices from tools like our Customer Effort Index (CEI) 
  • Technology roadmaps and integration strategies to drive transformation in the customer sector
Our understanding of utility processes and objectives is combined with a deep cross-industry customer experience background to provide innovative and sustainable changes in your people, processes, and technologies that allow you to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Find out how we can help you transform your customer experience!
ConnectTheGrid
With the acceleration of Distributed Energy Resources (DER), including rooftop solar, as well as the coming explosion of community solar and storage technologies, the distribution system is evolving into a two-way power system. Recent growth in customer-sited DER is forcing utilities to:

  • Approve interconnection applications faster
  • Automate workflow/document routing processes
  • Reduce soft costs caused by increased customer effort and lack of transparency into application outcome
  • Create visibility to DER assets behind the meter
  • Manage voltage/frequency risks impacting safety and reliability 
  

Capitalize on DER integration opportunities
West Monroe Partners developed ConnectTheGrid – a scalable, cloud-based resource for utilities that provides a step-by-step workflow for application approvals, acting as the master data source for DER assets. ConnectTheGrid is designed to be:

  • An online resource for applicants to learn about requirements, submit and track the status of their application
  • The essential master data source for DER assets deployed on a utility’s grid
  • A tool to monitor and accurately forecast DER resource performance to deliver stable and reliable grid operations. 

Download our ConnectTheGrid brochure

ConnectTheGrid provides utilities, municipalities, customers and contractors:

  • Increased visibility – providing utilities with accurate information of the capacity, type of DER, location of DER, and current DER performance
  • Enhanced cycle time – workflow management features allow utilities to process twice as many applications with existing staff resources
  • Automatic notifications to utility when applications approach approval time requirements
  • Improved customer experience and reduced utility costs through intuitive, online smart forms 
  • Increased transparency through online status dashboards – reducing the need for customer email and phone calls
  • Real-time distributed generation forecasting  - providing utilities with more precise information to improve generation forecasting 

To learn more about ConnectTheGrid – or to request a personalized demo – please contact Sean Murphy.


Performance Services
Utilities are going through ever increasing change.

Today’s utilities are experts in distributing electricity, but how proficient are they when it comes to managing and monitoring large data networks layered on top of the grid? These very networks that transport SCADA data, perform relay protection, isolate faults through distribution automation and read advanced meter infrastructure are now relied on to meet today’s grid reliability requirements. Smart grid telecommunications networks may have equal or greater device counts and availability requirements that far exceed that of the regional telecommunications carrier networks. Are you ready to manage and maintain a network that is that large, reliable and secure?

West Monroe Partners can help utilities manage these complex networks, the underlying processes and required capabilities that they are expected to deliver through a host of optimized offerings that include:

  • IT/OT Convergence: Achieving IT/OT integration requires blending cultures, teams, processes and budgets, which likely operate in silos. Utilities benefit from convergence of services and skill sets with improvements in system performance, increased decision-making effectiveness and improved time-to-repair response. When a storm effects your territory, will your organizations operate in lock-step to ensure an efficient response? We are able to guide you through these challenges.
  • High Performance NOC: Many factors go into designing a well performing utility Network Operation Center (NOC). To determine the design and appropriate capabilities our consultants assess you specific needs, current state and desired end-state.  By developing a strategy, an achievable roadmap and assisting in implementation, we ensure that you’ll be ready for whatever challenge comes your way to keep your network reliable, available and secure.
  • Performance Services: Our Performance Services practice partners with our consultants to assist utilities in running their telecommunication systems and processes efficiently and successfully. We understand the need for 24x7 monitoring, maintenance and response and implement the technologies to support complex business and technology objectives. We excel at executing repeatable processes, troubleshooting and remediating complex issues, and having a focus on continuous improvement to limit downtime and outages.

Whatever the level of complexity, you can be confident that you are working with a partner who understands where your concerns are. Talk to us about solutions that can save your utility money and improve services.


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