Today’s talent deficiency is tomorrow’s imperative.
Susan W. Christensen is a managing director in the talent and organization practice at Accenture’s North America Resources operating group. Sandra L. Jones is managing director in Accenture’s Utilities industry group. Brian Payne is a managing director within Accenture’s Utilities talent and organization practice. The authors acknowledge the contributions of Karen Brennan-Holton, Scott Cisel and William Ernzen.
Utilities face immediate and unprecedented operational challenges – from asset failures to regulatory pressures – and they’re all exacerbated by a growing dearth of critical skills needed to effectively run today’s and tomorrow’s utility. Utility companies typically have been more reactive than proactive in the area of talent development and retention, and the result is an effect on their bottom line as well as their ability to meet operational, safety, and customer expectations.
At one U.S. utility, last-minute sourcing of capital construction work led to a 25 percent spending increase on a precious budget of only a couple of hundred million dollars. Failure to plan and secure resources associated with known asset investments proved to be a costly error for this utility. But even where cost pressures are manageable, other risk factors can be onerous. At another company, the markout-and-locate function was handled externally by providers who lacked the adequate internal skills to oversee and ensure the work would be performed correctly. In situations like these, the utility compact’s mandate for safety calls management to take action.