By Devon Maresco
What makes a utility company? Other than its ability to provide gas, electric, water, and other essentials to homes and businesses, it also needs to support those utilities. That means departments for billing, customer service, dispatch, legal, and countless other departments. To accommodate them all and facilitate a cohesive, steadfast utility provider takes no small amount of gas and electric space planning.
Space planning for utilities functions like any other commercial business: identifying the various business lines and allocating space for them. Where it becomes different for utilities is in how that space shakes out. Massive call centers, high-tech dispatching departments, and busy billing sectors are hallmarks of a utility provider, and they all demand the right type of space to ensure smooth operations.
Gas and electric space planning factors heavily into the company’s ability to meet the demands of customers relying on it. The right space, allocated in the right proportion, helps utility company employees work effectively—which leads to happy, satisfied customers.
What is gas and electric company space planning?
The logistics of delivering gas or electric to populations in the tens or hundreds of thousands—or very likely, the millions—start with facility management. If the many moving parts of a utility company aren’t working together to turn the cogs, customers aren’t getting the essential gas or electric service they need. It comes down to space planning.
Space planning ensures that each business unit of a utility company has enough space to do its job, and that it’s able to work in synergy with the rest of the company. Billing and customer service are side-by-side, to ensure customer claims get due attention quickly. Monitoring and analytics work alongside dispatch to expedite response in emergency situations. Even ensuring facilities are easily navigable to the public is a form of conscious space planning.
Forethought to space allocation and capacity means forethought to operations. Does every business unit have the space it needs to be effective? Do the layouts across facilities support a common mission? Is there synergy between collaborative elements of the organization? The answer to each question needs to be a resounding yes for gas and electric companies to function in the capacity customers expect it to.
Benefits of space planning for gas and electric companies
The decision to organize, allocate, and arrange facilities culminates in a series of benefits that enable better performance out of utility providers. Some of the chief benefits that come with well-orchestrated facilities include:
- Utility company facilities become more accessible to employees and visitors
- Employees have the space they need to execute mission-critical tasks
- Reduction in the amount of space needed to conduct operations
- The cost to the company drops as facility efficiency lowers overhead expense
- Fewer overlaps and interruptions ensure smoother operations
- Enhanced safety, security, and privacy in well-orchestrated spaces
Giving everyone the space they need to execute mission-critical tasks is paramount for utility companies. It’s the difference between being able to deliver a consistent level of reliable service and constantly trying to patch gaps in the behind-the-scenes management of energy infrastructure.
How does gas and electric company space planning software help?
Gas and electric operations are prolific. Keeping track of each line of business and its needs, while coordinating operations across them all, takes a concerted effort. Gas and electric company space planning software makes it possible. It offers the essential tools and automations to identify space needs, allocate accordingly, and factor facilities into operational demands.
Does it make sense to allocate 1,000 square feet to call center operations? Should dispatch and digital analysis ops share an entire floor? Is it worthwhile to expand the real estate portfolio and move billing and collections to its own facility? Software provides the data-driven answers utility companies need to these questions, by way of assessing and understanding space demands and constraints. By assessing trends and deploying actionable data, utility companies can stay agile as demand for service grows and the nature of the industry changes.
Space planning software also puts utility companies in control of overhead costs. As companies compare their need for space against leasing costs across different facilities, it becomes easier to consolidate, conserve, or expand with intent. Software again provides the data necessary to understand space metrics in context to company operations. Utility companies can rely on space planning software to help them identify need, sandbox solutions, observe cost changes, and create solutions that work—all before they’re actually deployed.
Space planning for every line of business
Utility companies are so much more than the energy and resource they provide. They’re responsible for customer service and engagement regarding those utilities. They need to maintain and service utilities across the region. And, most important, they need to ensure that the people relying on them for answers to life’s most essential commodities are well-served at all times. The key to all of these things are facilities that support streamlined, efficient operations for the utility company itself.
Gas and electric space planning is an important step in enabling superior service. Utility providers that recognize their many roles and obligations are better-equipped to allocate the appropriate space to them. When they do, everyone wins.
Keep reading: Gas and Electric Facilities Management Software Benefits