Utility Operations

 

About Utility Operations

The Utility Operations practice focuses on improving the management of electrical operations, with a focus on construction, systems improvement, maintenance and warehouse, materials, human resources management, labor negotiations and safety training. The National Consulting Group provides the following key areas of service to NRECA members:

  • Layout and Workflow Analysis

  • System Design and Development

  • Mergers and Acquisitions

  • Approach to Technology Planning

NRECA's National Consulting Group offers a structured technology planning approach that focuses on assessing technology needs within a business process framework. It is important for management to understand how information technology applications are integrated and mesh with people performing the work to achieve optimal performance results.

Our technology planning model has four phases:

Phase I – Strategic Assessment

This phase involves the cooperative's decision makers and identifies the strategic elements of the organization, clearly defining the organization's direction, desired state, business drivers and strategic goals.

Phase II – Business Process Assessment

Good technology planning should be based on how technology is applied to a desired process. This phase involves analyzing the core business processes of the co-op to identify issues, barriers, and opportunities for improving performance and service levels. Three key steps are proposed:

  • Current business processes review

  • Technology assessment and gap analysis

  • Process redesign

Phase III – Technology Design

To define the technology opportunities, the co-op should consider forming a cross-functional technology team to review the most promising technologies and prepare the relevant business cases. The team should be limited to six to eight participants who have a vested interest in the application of technology.

Phase IV – Technology Road Map

This phase involves formulating the technology plan or "technology road map" with continued involvement of the technology team. The plan includes laying out a timeline (both short- and long-term planning horizons) for the recommendations from the process redesign and technology applications.
This structured approach to technology planning produces a comprehensive strategic technology plan through a collaborative effort that considers the desired changes to the process, business requirements, appropriate technology adoption and the associated change-management issues. This technology plan provides a comprehensive road map for the co-op to follow and serves as a guiding script for all stakeholders, including the board, management and employees.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Rural electric co-op have survived hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms and other catastrophes. Along the way, they have a set an impressive track record of moving swiftly and surely to restore power and get the lights back on.

Given recently passed regulations and a nationwide emphasis on homeland security and critical infrastructure protection, there is a heightened focus on the electric utility industry and specifically on the rural electric program. As we prepare for these increased expectations and the associated increase in reporting requirements, co-ops must turn their attention not only to documenting their outage restoration plans, but also to undertaking more fundamental business continuity management and critical business function recovery activities.

Recovery of data and resumption of business functions following a natural, human, or technical disaster are no less important than getting the lights back on. Today, information technology and the underlying software applications form the backbone of any rural electric co-op.

Many potential benefits can be derived from evaluating your co-op's readiness to respond to a disaster. With an overall organizational commitment to business continuity management, electric co-ops can then focus on developing and testing effective disaster recovery strategies. With the strategically defined recovery strategies in place, co-ops can expect to reap major benefits, including the following:

  • Decreased likelihood of a disaster occurring

  • Decreased risk of business failure in the event of a disaster

  • Process visibility and clearly delegated decision-making authority

  • Improved information technology documentation

  • More effective back-up strategies

  • Establishment of procedures that instill organizational awareness and create continuity capacity

NRECA's National Consulting Group works with co-ops across the country in the areas of business continuity management, vulnerability and risk assessment and disaster recovery. We assist member co-ops by bringing subject-matter experts with a high level of knowledge and skills in continuity management, physical and cyber security, recovery strategy definition and implementation and overall crisis management. Our network of seasoned practitioners includes experts who have focused their entire careers on these important areas, with significant focus on the electric utility sector. Our team has practical experience creating, maintaining and testing disaster recovery processes in an electric co-op environment.

AMR/SCADA Feasibility Studies

For more information, contact Henry Cano, Senior Principal, Strategic Practice, henry.cano@nreca.coop, 602-621-3905.


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