By Devon Maresco
One of the most unique features about utility companies is their decentralized operation. While it might have a large headquarters in the heart of its service area, a utility provider also tends to have numerous satellite offices. Whether it’s a local bill-pay depot, a field station, a call center, or a dispatch location, utility companies need to track how they’re using space across these many different locations. It’s where gas and electric stack planning come in handy.
Stack planning helps utility providers contextualize their sprawl. How many square feet are call centers A, B, and C? What percentage of the company’s real estate is devoted to billing and collections? What’s the context of service station square footage vs. the number of service techs in the field? These questions lead to insights about operational capabilities—and they’re all answered by looking at the stack plan.
What is a stack plan and how does it help gas and electric companies improve their efficiency? Here’s how a top-down view of how space equates to more effective management of space—and the benefits that come with it.
What is gas and electric company stack planning?
Stack planning is a top-down view of space allocated across a company’s many business lines. In the case of gas and electric stack planning, it involves looking at the many different business lines, locations, and operational expectations that rely on square footage.
The stack plan itself is the visual representation of space makeup within the company. It’ll show that call centers make up 24% of occupied space, that there are three facilities in the company’s portfolio with space allocated to bill pau, and that the total cost of HR facilities is $49,000 annually. Whatever space metric is most important to the company, the stack plan quantifies it.
The act of stack planning itself involves using insights from the stack plan to inform major decisions about space allocation and occupation. For example, if the company needs to house systems monitoring personnel in larger facilities, it may choose to take applicable space from another business line with more than necessary. The result? Better decisions about how to use space in a way that best-supports operations.
Benefits of stack planning for gas and electric companies
Stack planning unlocks a world of insights and opportunities for oil and gas companies as they seek to streamline facility operations in pursuit of efficiency. Some of the biggest and most prevalent benefits include:
- More efficient use of facilities, from both cost and operations standpoints
- Better understanding of space allocation and utilization
- Purposeful allocation of space to support the needs of employees
- Context for broader facilities data such as utilization and occupancy
- Insights and opportunities to repurpose or reallocate space
- Smarter spatial layout of facilities, to streamline accessibility
Utility companies that prioritize stack planning put themselves in a position to understand real estate as it relates to the greater mission of the company. Are facilities spread out in such a way that they run efficiently at cost? With the ability to look at space from a cost standpoint, through a spatial needs lens, and with mind for operations makes stack planning an important tool in any utility company’s arsenal.
How does gas and electric company stack planning software help?
Stack planning hinges on the ability to visually contextualize space at every level. To do this takes robust software. From digital floor plans, to integrations for cost and usage data, to automations that enable data visualization, gas and electric company stack planning software is a vital tool.
Stack planning software not only enables the visual stack plan, it assists in modeling changes within a sandbox environment. Utility companies can’t afford to disrupt operations—if they do, it could disrupt service. Sandboxing within software allows administrators to make changes, review options, and play with allocation figures to optimize floor plans—all before any physical changes occur. Sandboxing also provides modeling data that extrapolates trends for forward-looking insights.
Finally, stack planning software is as dynamic as utilities companies themselves. As they grow and expand, and service demands increase, so does the ability to reassess facilities. The stack plan puts administrators in control by showcasing current allocations in the context of operational data, to illuminate areas of opportunity. Stack plans allow for space optimization at the highest level, on an ongoing basis.
Contextualize space across sprawling operations
Spawl is part of the business when it comes to utilities. If you’re serving several hundred square miles or the better part of a region, you need office space that spans the area. Accounting for that space becomes an important part of keeping operations fluid and efficient. Gas and electric stack planning puts utilities companies in control of where and how they allocate space, and helps contextualize the function of that space in serving the community.
Utility companies that embrace stack planning will find themselves in a position to not just continue serving customers, but to optimize the efficiency by which they deliver those services. Recognizing the need for space and using the stack plan to allocate it is a game changer—especially when it comes to ranging utility providers responsible for delivering a uniform standard to everyone in their service area.
Keep reading: Gas and Electric Space Planning Software Benefits