Estimating ROI / Predicting Benefits of a DW Implementation In a Utility Environment

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Estimating ROI / Predicting Benefits of a DW Implementation In a Utility Environment

Post  brian.scott@talgov.com on Thu Mar 12, 2015 8:54 am

Hello DW Gurus -

I have been tasked with developing with a strategy for a DW implementation in a medium sized municipal utility. While I have a learning curve in front of me from a technical perspective, it can be figured out. The politics of doing the job correctly are a bit more complicated and looking at some of the use cases I'm struggling to find a close fit for our business model.

One of the managers doesn't think he needs a data warehouse; he said something along the lines of, 'If I want data, I ask [one of my two guys], and they get me a spreadsheet. I managed a 200M project with spreadsheets, why do I need to spend money on a data warehouse?'. I don't really know his side of the utility well enough to argue with him about the things he doesn't know, or how long it *actually* takes his people to generate request X. It isn't really clear to me if he'd care if I said, 'Sure, but your guys could spend two minutes getting that data instead of a week.'

Similarly a manager of another area doesn't seem to think that a time horizon measured in years and budgets measured in millions is reasonable; i.e., 'We already have databases downtown, we already have the data. Just put it in a warehouse. This should take a few months.'

When I looked to existing use cases for counter arguments, they seem to differ from our business model in that:

1) We are a utility and there isn't any competition. The customers aren't going anywhere else for the product, and it is a product they've got to have.

2) The thing that matters most to customers, our rates, are set by rate studies that only occur every few years; changing them is kind of like turning a battleship, a long running process.

It's a difficult sell for me to some of the management team to say, 'repairing our existing fractured data architecture is will allow YOU to do X' because the people who are giving me static are in control of areas I have a limited operational knowledge. I know their data state is largely awful, but I don't know their problems well enough to articulate how a DW would save them time and dollars. None the less, my marching orders are to clear.

That all being said, are there any utility guys (or girls) out there that can give me some accounts of how they've made rainbows and saved the world with their DW? We provide water/gas/sewer/stormwater and electric utilities. Also within the data realm are your standard HR/Financials/CRM ERP systems, a couple of work management solutions, a few call centers, some public transit stuff, a few IVRs, and a few thousand randomly distributed spreadsheets/Access databases.

Any insight is *greatly appreciated*.

brian.scott@talgov.com

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Re: Estimating ROI / Predicting Benefits of a DW Implementation In a Utility Environment

Post  TheNJDevil on Fri Mar 13, 2015 9:51 am

The approach I've taken is to go to the next system when a manager says his group doesn't need a data warehouse solution. You mentioned you have many systems that are supported in your utility. If one team says they can't see the benefit, then move on to the next. The goal at this stage is to find someone that does want easier reporting, and more consistent reporting capabilities. We actually started with the Safety group, which resulted in creating facts for daily productive hours by business unit and incidents. They had a monthly booklet report that took them a week to build. that week was brought down to clicking to run the report, and then a hour or so to verify the numbers before publishing it. small win for 1 team, but it was a start and proved the concept of a dimensionally modeled DW is a viable solution to bring together 2 separate data sources for faster/easier/better reporting.

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Re: Estimating ROI / Predicting Benefits of a DW Implementation In a Utility Environment

Post  ngalemmo on Fri Mar 13, 2015 10:59 am

I'm not sure a traditional ROI analysis would help much, particularly in an industry who's profitability is directly related to how much they spend (high spend = high profit). I think you need to concentrate on how it would make their job easier or improve the image of the company.

For example, I was at SCE for a while. I developed an HR warehouse to help them plan and manage hiring. They had two challenges they were trying to address: an aging employee workforce (~30% were within 8 years of retirement) and to plan staging of emergency crews into regions based on the likelihood of weather/fire/flood problems damaging the infrastructure. There was a much larger project dealing with the smart grid hardware to allow customers to access and analyze their usage data on-line.
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Re: Estimating ROI / Predicting Benefits of a DW Implementation In a Utility Environment

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