State of the water industry
Water utilities are struggling to meet the demands of outdated infrastructure, changing workforce makeup, and the overall need to address inefficiencies in sourcing water. On the macro-level, population migration in suburbs and cities, reliability of water resources, rising customer expectations for real-time information, and increasing interest in water conservation plans are pressuring water utilities to target investments that drive operational and customer service improvements. As mentioned in “Will Donald Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Throw a Life-Ring to Water Utilities?,” the “America First Infrastructure Plan” aims to encourage new infrastructure investment, and specifically calls out the need to improve water infrastructure. What is the first step water utilities can take to improving their infrastructure?
Utility Modernization as a solution
Given the current state of the water industry, utility modernization is a strategy water utilities can use to target investments that will address a variety of industry challenges, including customer engagement, advanced metering infrastructure, data analytics, workforce, and distribution upgrades. The premise is to elevate performance through people, process, and technology enhancements that allow for resources to be allocated to higher value output. To accomplish modernization, water utilities should evaluate the costs and benefits of initiatives then prioritize based on value and impact. During our latest webinar of the series, participating water utilities were able to gain insights on methods to identify, prioritize, and determine best value initiatives that drive modernization by beginning with a business case analysis.`
As mentioned in our webinar, West Monroe Partners (WMP) helps utilities analyze and articulate a modernization strategy by beginning with Business Case Analysis (BCA) to establish feasibility, sensitivity, and value for identified initiatives. WMP’s modular and expansive tool can help utilities take a comprehensive approach that considers assumptions developed across more than 30 clients. Assumptions include a utility’s telecom, security, customer service, and meter data management systems vetted through experience and industry best practices. The vetting of assumptions allows the water utility to quickly model costs and benefits of numerous modernization scenarios.
- Improved customer service and internal processes improvement
- Fewer billing disputes as customers gain access to data
- Reduced shortage risks as conservation programs become more informed
- Societal benefits of decreasing overall water wasted in the process