Organizational assessment bolsters strategic priorities
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Organizational assessment bolsters strategic priorities

Organizational structure is the framework through which the utility of the future realizes process efficiencies and nimbly adapts to changing technology, regulatory and service expectations. The structure’s design must allow optimal business operation through efficient workflows, cross-team collaboration and agile response to industry changes.

However, many utilities have not adapted their organizational structures to meet modern demands. To streamline business operations and best utilize personnel skillsets, utilities must regularly assess organizational structure at the enterprise, division and department level. In this article, you will find:

  • Strategies to advocate for conducting an organizational structure analysis
  • Stages to complete the organizational assessment to realign roles, responsibilities and reporting lines based on current and future needs

Internal personnel may execute an organizational assessment although board members may be more apt to adopt changes developed by an external entity to clearly establish an independent, bias-free perspective.

An organizational assessment is a great first step to becoming operationally nimble and strategically aligned. Continue this momentum with more proactive solutions to utility industry challenges. Learn more.
Create buy-in

Understand the priorities of your key decision makers. They are your project stakeholders whose interest in the outcome will enable and drive the project. Here are three approaches to create buy-in:

Communicate the impact

Look beyond the day-to-day to consider how your project supports the utility’s mission and vision. A mission to “provide a reliable and trusted source of electricity while finding innovative ways to improve service delivery” should tailor communication to how efficient reporting lines and realigned duties will improve services and reduce costs.

Tie the project to goals

Tie an organizational structure analysis to strategic goals to identify hurdles and solutions – thus demonstrating its future contributions. Consider these scenarios in which the perception of an organizational assessment shifts from a resource investment to strategic step and risk mitigation method that will achieve long-term goals.

  • Responsibilities for a key position may need adjustments for technology effects on workload or communication to support a strategic objective of increasing access through mobile and online services.
  • Strategic goals that include succession planning or creating recruitment plans for upcoming retirements require strategic involvement from human resources and access to utility’s leadership.
  • Technology investments for 24-hour operations to be remotely controlled may necessitate a change in reporting lines.

Identify the benefits

Perhaps your utility has started succession planning or your board recently approved a rate increase. An organizational assessment complements succession planning and shows the intent for efficient use of ratepayer fees. Build enterprise-wide buy-in by identifying what is important to decision makers and how the project supports their objectives. In utilities with “idea” competition and limited resources to support competing initiatives, present an organizational structure analysis in a supporting role to decision makers’ broader objectives rather than in competition with their own projects.

Create your team

Once you receive the green light for the project, identify a project sponsor, manager and team members.

Project sponsor

Consider C-suite leadership to champion and emphasize the project’s importance and relevance. Someone who can communicate long-term benefits with access to advocate the project to decision makers.

Project manager

The project manager role requires dedicated time for day-to-day details to move the project forward and:

  • Create the work plan with the associated tasks and timeline
  • Identify project risks and critical dependencies
  • Monitor the plan’s ongoing execution
  • Coordinate personnel and monetary resources to balance competing project and operational priorities

Project team

Project team members need varied skillsets to perform the bulk of the legwork. Consider these proficiencies:

  • Relevant technical skills for project execution and to understand the requirements of the assessed functionality and responsibilities
  • Problem-solving skills to identify the challenge and create a path toward the solution
  • Interpersonal skills to relate during informational interviews and collaborate with team members
  • Organizational skills to complete daily responsibilities plus organizational assessment responsibilities
Conduct interviews

Informational interviews provide insight into the strengths and challenges of existing processes and the scope of the responsibilities for a department, division or position. Additionally, the interviews:

  • Allow affected individuals to feel heard, a critical component of change management
  • Develop rapport with participants and potential allies for the implementation of recommendations
  • Identify unforeseen considerations or opportunities for future investigation

The position level to which you want to “drill down” for holding meetings depends on whether you are conducting a high-level assessment or a detailed department or division assessment in which you may be altering specific position reporting lines.

  • Organizational assessments to determine where a department or division “sits” require meeting with directors and managers to identify if a different operating structure better suits the team’s functionality
  • Department or division-specific organizational assessments to consider moving positions must include a sample group of individuals that fill those positions to fully understand the implications of a move

During these interviews, think about how your utility assesses job functions. Sometimes staff inherit responsibilities not aligned with typical functions of their position’s title. Realigning positions with job functions will reach a broader applicant pool and position future employees for success. Aligning responsibilities with roles will streamline reporting lines, define employee expectations and identify areas of strategic employee growth.

Develop recommendations

Recommendations should be actionable, specific, supported by the informational interviews and, if possible, backed by quantitative data analysis. Potential quantitative analysis includes identifying costs savings through:

  • A reduction in full-time employees
  • Reduced processing times with associated personnel resource time saved
  • Increased efficiencies with associated cost of goods or resources saved
  • Expected reduction in customer service response times
  • Reduced third-party or outsourcing costs

Identify priority levels for the recommendations to help stakeholders determine low hanging fruit for quick wins and to create a roadmap that guides the implementation time frame.

Building organizational assessments into strategic priorities proactively positions your utility to better adapt to technology advances, adjust to regulatory changes and compete for talented employees.

For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly power and utilities specialists can help,   contact our team.

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