Operational Excellence in Utilities: Prioritize Your Metrics with a Balanced Scorecard
In the utilities industry, there are dozens of key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be tracked to understand the performance of employees and the assets they work with. However, not all KPIs are equal—some are more relevant than others when considering how to successfully manage an operational cadence. While tracking a broad range of data is still helpful, your company should prioritize those metrics (the KPIs) that are essential to operations while keeping the majority of secondary and tertiary measure of performance for “deeper dives” into the cause or drivers of KPIs. Creating this hierarchy is another step on the path to Operational Excellence for utilities.
Building a Metric Hierarchy
It’s a good practice to separate KPIs into levels of importance—primary, secondary, and tertiary. Your primary metrics should be around a half-dozen KPIs on which the organization should be most focused, and they should be representative of your company’s performance. These should be chosen to “self-correct” for inherent contradictions or conflicts, such as safety versus productivity. Here are some examples of metrics that may fall into your primary KPIs:
Primary Metric Suggestions Leading/Lagging Indicator
- Safety (*) Both
- Productivity (*) Lagging
- Human Performance (e.g., CCCI or switching errors) (*) Lagging
- Cost Effectiveness (*) Both
- Call-Out Rate (*) Lagging
- Non-Conformance Rate (*) Lagging
- Schedule Adherence (*) Both
- Customer Satisfaction (*) Lagging
- Outage Information Scorecard Both
- Driving Courtesy Leading
- Vehicle Incident Rate Lagging
- Storm Performance Report Lagging
- Vehicle Telematics Report Both
- System Reliability Lagging
Secondary and tertiary metrics are used for further drilldown into your company’s performance. You typically have a handful of these at each level. While these may not be as worthy or significant as KPIs, they do provide valuable context or insight into the “why” a certain KPI result was achieved.
Organizing Metrics with a Balanced Scorecard
Once you have your metrics prioritized, you can then build a dashboard—called a balanced scorecard—to view KPIs in a holistic and effective manner. This scorecard should be consistent (both vertically and horizontally) no matter the role—from senior executive to the “deck plate” where the work is performed. Here is an example of what a balanced scorecard might look like for a Foreman.
As you can see, the primary metrics are listed and weighted to give an overall performance score. Without something like this dashboard, you may find yourself staring at pages full of metrics and no real way of knowing what matters most and what constitutes great performance and where the opportunities to leverage best practices or remediate areas of weakness exist.
Prioritized Metrics = Operational Excellence
Any utility can measure KPIs. The real challenge is putting those KPIs to good use identifying the high performing and low performing areas of your organization.
By prioritizing metrics and creating balanced scorecards, utilities can capitalize on the valuable information that KPIs offer. That can help your organization achieve Operational Excellence.