A West Coast utility tackles a key challenge to replacing last-mile communications infrastructure with next-generation field area network functionality and capabilities.
Date : February 2, 2015
The client is a large, multiservice investor-owned utility that provides natural gas service and electric service to nearly 9 million customers. In addition to being expansive, the utility’s service territory includes extremes ranging from dense urban areas to remote mountainous regions.
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Targeting the right solution

The utility’s existing communication infrastructure is aging and unable to support many modern-day features and functions, such as Ethernet end points or SNMP management traffic. Furthermore, the existing field area networks (FANs) cannot deliver the necessary amounts of bandwidth to specific types of infrastructure in a cost-effective manner.

The utility needed to identify a highbandwidth, IP-enabled communication network to support its business needs in a reliable and cost-effective manner—specifically, one that can:

  • Operate in both dense urban areas and very sparsely populated rural areas
  • Support each of the utility’s six use cases
  • Be deployed cost-effectively across the utility’s large service territory

The utility wanted assistance with developing a request for proposal (RFP) designed to identify the best solution based on requirements for each of the six use cases.

Expertise plus a proven approach

For assistance, the utility turned to West Monroe Partners, which offered deep utility and telecommunications expertise. In addition, West Monroe Partners demonstrated a proven approach for drafting comprehensive RFPs that incorporate critical elements of the evaluation process, including project scope, requirements, and pricing data.

Ready to take the next steps

West Monroe Partners interviewed key stakeholders and some network users to validate the utility’s six use cases and document technical and functional requirements for each use case. In the process, the West Monroe team identified and addressed a number of overlapping requirements among the six use cases.

The team’s focus then shifted to developing the RFP. West Monroe Partners facilitated key decisions early in the development process. These included installation responsibilities and the option for “Day 2” vendor support. West Monroe Partners drafted the RFP and prepared supporting documentation, including a pricing template, and distributed it to selected vendors.

Finally, West Monroe developed an evaluation matrix for scoring responses. The matrix included sections for:
  • Compliance with use case requirements
  • Compliance with internal purchasing requirements
  • Pricing

The matrix applied weighting to each section, enabling the utility to select the best solution for its needs.

West Monroe Partners provided assistance and input throughout the review process. Each solution presented unique features and functionality, requiring the utility to compare and contrast solutions to identify the best fit. West Monroe Partners participated in the discussions and helped the utility navigate the evaluation process—and ultimately take a key step toward replacing its current FAN communication infrastructure with next-generation functionality and capabilities.

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