Performance Improvement

Adaptive Performance Improvement in the Energy Sector

The world is changing rapidly – with the current Energy Transition, we’re in a race to decarbonize the energy sector. The reality is, regardless of whether we get there in 2030, 2035 or 2040, the actions we need to be taking to ensure success in a carbon neutral world are growing increasingly urgent – we must start today. For years, utilities have operated in a relatively stable environment, but now need to adapt to the expectation of dramatic change, year after year, for the next decade or more. New regulatory models, rising customer expectations, and also rising employee expectations are all on a collision course with ways of the past.

“Forward-thinking, efficient, and large-scale Performance Improvement will be key to future success and growth.”

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To be successful in the future, utilities need to tear down siloes, rapidly increase data literacy across teams at all levels, and fully leverage predictive analytics and automated decision making (what has been some of the jobs of middle managers). Finally, they need to eliminate much of the work that has historically been done by employees in the field – automation, predictive analytics, and risk-based approaches to triggering work will all contribute to dramatic reduction in routine fieldwork. This conflicts with the traditional desire to have as many skilled employees as justified by the routine work for quick and effective storm response. The solution to this is likely to be partly more agile procurement and alliance strategies to secure those emergency response resources from outside the firm, and partly resiliency and storm hardening capital investments to significantly reduce the amount of damage we typically see from storms. The latter will grow even more important in the coming years as climate change accelerates weather volatility and severity and frequency of storms.

The challenge for utility leadership is not to decide which of these drivers to tackle first, but how best to holistically address them all in parallel. The time we have to remake our business and be ready for these radical changes is too short for a sequential series of prioritized initiatives – what is needed is a total transformation of utility operations. Productivity and work management is central but should be automated, and this will require new skills, data literacy, handhelds, and data democratization. This will necessitate much of the analytics to be pushed to grid edge (rather than pulled back into a data lake for managers, analysts, and front line workers to try and make sense of), and the tools required are going to have to do pre-processing of information and pre-staging of decisions right at the point of data collection. Forward-thinking, efficient, and large-scale Performance Improvement will be key to future success and growth.


Acquaint yourself with our Performance Improvement service with this short (3 minute) introductory video.


Resilience, Agility and Adaptiveness: Key Principles to Integrate From Board to Field

Generally, it is the nature of any business to continuously seek to improve business performance, but it’s typically not a critical enough agenda item in board meetings. All companies are faced with the overhanging objective of a carbon neutral output, which can be a threat or an opportunity, entirely depending on how the strategic imperatives are converted into coherent plans and projects down the line. Many companies need to reposition their strategies and processes to convert such threats to opportunities, defining and implementing supporting Performance Improvement initiatives. Common challenges we often see are:

  • Siloed representation on the executive board
  • Processes that don’t integrate well across groups
  • Data and tools that have room for improvement to truly allow companies to “see the things that they should see”
  • A need to accelerate responsiveness and become more agile

Bespoke UMS Group Performance Improvement Services

Companies may undertake Performance Improvement initiatives with the goal of achieving:

  • Qualitative improvements,
  • Quantitative bottom-line improvements, and/or
  • Stronger alignment with overall longer term objectives such as triple-net-zero; zero CO2 emissions, zero waste, and zero hydrocarbons feedstock.

UMS Group has over 30 years of experience designing custom Performance Improvement solutions across an array of functional areas and at a variety of levels. Naturally, we can help at the individual department level to dramatically improvement performance, i.e. reduce costs, increase efficiency (get more work done with the same resources), and find ways to take work and cost out of your business. These are valuable improvements, but, if you subscribe to the view that time is too short for an individual department “piecemeal” approach, we can provide a substantially greater impact through a large scale transformation program.

Sample Service Offerings


Large Program Management and Transformational Projects

Utilities are under growing cost and staff reduction pressures, and yet the need for large scale change initiatives is expanding. External assistance / program management for large scale projects such as AMI and Energy Efficiency programs has been common for years now. But new areas such as Electric Vehicles, Aerial Inspection and Risk Management, Grid Mod, System Resilience / Storm Hardening, etc. are emerging with similar support needs.

  • We identify best practices models for each such area from our global learning consortia, including leading process designs, org structures, staffing and skills needs, budget requirements, and business cases to justify program investments.
  • We provide highly skilled program management talent to supplement your resources, and bring to you team the delivery models, data, tools and analytics, and insights into industry best practices and technology solutions available.
  • Our proprietary tools/models and can run critical analyses for timely and effective decision making. For example, for EV Penetration Readiness, we bring powerful diagnostic models to determine when specific feeders and substations will be overloaded. We can then identify new capacity requirements (new feeders, substation expansions / upgrades), timing for land purchases, support in designing regulatory communications / presentations, etc.
  • External project management time can be capitalized as a component of the project.


Custom Benchmarking Studies

  • A North American leader in the design and manufacturing of electric and electronic products, systems, and services engaged UMS Group to facilitate a Voice of the Customer (VOC) study of targeted electric transmission organizations, focusing on their needs and expectations of high voltage vacuum circuit breakers. UMS Group attained participation of 20 leading transmission organizations including a quantitative data survey and interviews. Transcripts of all interviews were shared with the client along with the final report compiling and summarizing survey results and insights. Ultimately, this provided the client with valuable insights for their product development efforts.
  • Another example is a recent survey we designed and conducted around the Energy Transition, looking at topics such as decarbonization goals, managing an orderly transition out of coal, managing assets to prevent failure prior to expected end of life, and managing workforce issues around known shutdowns (i.e. avoiding demoralization and safety issues).

Reliability Improvement

  • Assessing and providing action plans to achieve stepped improvement in reliability in a cost-effective and sustainable manner to meet the strategic imperative.
  • Identify specific improvement initiatives and strategies based on analyses of reliability and thorough reviews of service interruption mitigation and elimination/service restoration processes and practices.

Capital Efficiency

Which includes evaluating bids and awarding contracts that promote competitive prices and high levels of service from among a select group of preferred suppliers, and delivering/executing projects on time, and within pre-established budgets/prescribed quality requirements.


O&M Cost Management

Ensuring financial sustainability of our clients’ long-term operation of the asset base, improving productivity/efficiency of work practices without negatively affecting service level performance. Typical areas of focus include Work Planning and Execution, Inspection and Maintenance activities, Organizational Effectiveness and Technology Applications.


Best Practices Identification and Implementation

Develop recommendations around established best practices and emerging technologies that will improve performance across the organization.


Project and Portfolio Management

Assess maturity and design/implement practices that assure the realization of capital investment program across 10 predefined performance domains, in a linear connection with the client’s strategic imperative.


Work Planning and Execution

Assist our clients in gaining organizational alignment around the performance of work, thus maximizing worker productivity (e.g., every day fully planned, crews optimized for the work as opposed to work being optimized for the crews, vehicles are stocked with tools and materials appropriate for the work to be performed, jobs pre-staged for each day, and vacations, time-off and training appropriately accounted for).


Zero-Based Staffing

Establish targeted staffing levels based on projected workload and key assumptions regarding aging workforce and required skills/competencies to meet future system requirements.

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