Adapting to new realities

Published: 12 July 2020 - 5:42 a.m.
By: Baset Asaba

As the world continues to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic, the utilities industry must prioritise new operational strategies aligned with the current realities if they are to remain competitive.

It is true that in the face of the global pandemic, ensuring that critical lifeline services are not interrupted has created an unprecedented challenge. But the near-term decisions utility leaders make today to protect their employees, communities and business from COVID-19, will undoubtedly impact future operations.

In order to ensure enterprise resiliency now and in the long term, priority must be placed on ensuring the safety of people and going the extra mile to serve customers while anticipating and minimising financial impact.

Leaders are already managing large reductions in productivity as most employees grapple with the safety, care, and education of family and loved ones. As public health officials warn of a multi-month fight against the virus, these challenges will only be amplified and exacerbated without adequate foresight and planning.

Utilities around the globe understand that a rapid and well-coordinated response is required to proactively manage and adapt to an evolving environment. Critical success factors include unifying the response team, establishing clear priorities and communicating with consistency.

It is important that everyone from the C-suite to field crews understands their roles and responsibilities. Executives should be focused on strategic guidance, broad priorities, and mitigating legal or policy issues. A single cross-functional response organisation should be established with one incident commander to align response objectives across the board.

The uncertainty and complexity of a pandemic makes responding more complicated than a typical natural disaster.

As a result, utilities should model different scenarios focused on the impact that the current and potentially worsening operating conditions will have on the business over the next 12-24 months. The gaps identified in the scenarios will help to inform key considerations when developing short and long-term strategies.

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