Utility Management Consulting

Utility Management Consulting

FCS GROUP supports you and your organization by offering tailored business management solutions. We have assisted with the formation and merger of utilities, developed detailed asset management programs, configured efficiency-directed  information technology (IT) systems and negotiated complicated wholesale agreements—helping utilities maintain their resiliency in an ever changing world.

“Our 30 plus years of experience have provided us with a valuable perspective. We put that knowledge to work to help our clients meet their business needs in more ways than one.”

Jason Mumm

FCS GROUP supports you and your organization by offering tailored business management solutions. We have assisted with the formation and merger of utilities, developed detailed asset management programs, configured efficiency-directed  information technology (IT) systems and negotiated complicated wholesale agreements—helping utilities maintain their resiliency in an ever changing world.

“We help our clients improve their performance by solving problems and finding better ways of doing things.”

FCS GROUP offers a wide range of asset management (AM) and utility management services to improve overall organizational performance and reduce costs. Our role is to design and deliver practical programs that manage the life-cycle cost of asset ownership while improving asset reliability and service delivery. FCS GROUP works side-by-side with utility staff to develop an asset management framework with the strategies, systems and tools to support the program. Our tailored approach serves to establish asset management principles and help your staff learn through the implementation of the best practices that lead to effective utility management. Ultimately, our goal is to help your organization meet its level-of-service targets by combining asset management strategies with comprehensive financial planning.
Financial planning for capital infrastructure reinvestment—repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of utility facilities—is a critical component of any asset management (AM) program, and without it, AM programs lose effectiveness over time. FCS GROUP works with utility finance, engineering, and operations professionals to develop a long-term “whole system” capital plan to assure the long-range success of an AM program. Our approach employs various methods for estimating the future costs of infrastructure replacement; establishing policies on financing methods, equity issues, and rate affordability; analyzing the accumulation and use of dedicated cash reserves; identifying rate and fee impacts; and developing transition strategies for beginning or enhancing a capital reinvestment program. A good financial plan provides the blueprint for utilities to proactively address future replacement needs, helps to avoid rate shock, and seeks to treat different generations of customers equitably.

FCS GROUP recognizes the importance of information to support an organization. Foremost, information systems are used to access the strategic knowledge of the organization. This includes an integration of data from different sources, a system that allows for the instant access to strategic knowledge, and is available to anyone who needs the information. The system must accurately answer complex business questions within a few minutes or people will not continue to use it. Ultimately, the system must provide for the ability to quickly adapt to changes in the external business environment and stakeholder needs. If new information technology capabilities are needed to implement new asset management and operations strategies, FCS GROUP has the resources to modify your existing systems or to select and deploy new systems that are tailored to support your specific requirements.

Your community is aware of the influence that technology currently has on operations, and you have even adopted several efficiency enhancing programs including advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) technology. However, there are gaps, budgets are insufficient, staff may be reluctant to adopt new technology, and some organizations have a leadership group or policy body that believe the risks outweigh the benefits. This is especially true as we look at the potential of new and emerging technologies such as Cloud Computing, business analytics, the “Internet of Things” (IoT) and machine to machine (M2M) technology.

FCS GROUP helps you make the most effective use of current technology investments, plan for future technology, and develop tactics for successful deployment. This includes educating elected and appointed officials about the plan and its risk and benefit costs. We help you identify and adopt both policies and technologies that can advance your IT position whether it is to promote asset management or a full Smart City information and communication technology solution.

Your utility has a unique way of doing business. Our experts work side by side with your staff to optimize the way staff perform work, improve data flow and align with strategic goals of the organization.  The business process analysis techniques we use are the most current, effective, and broadly accepted methodologies in the U.S.  Our approach uses a business process analysis and modeling to evaluate and design optimized business systems.  We assist you in identifying current procedures and processes and how people use business information systems.  We review the procedures and processes, diagram the process workflow and data flow, business interactions, and affected procedures.  We also conduct comprehensive, detailed reports of industry standards and best practices as they relate to your organization and the industry in which you operate to give you an idea of the potential for improved efficiency as well as good ideas that can be employed for your specific business.  Additionally, we develop business plans, including a cost and benefit analysis, an impact assessment for proposed improvements, and a project plan with formal recommendations for implementation to guide you through change.

FCS GROUP’s goal is to help you select and implement process improvements and to configure the business information systems to support your processes and strategic goals while maintaining the integrity of the systems and programs that define your organization.

FCS GROUP’s business case evaluation (BCE) is a process to evaluate your perceived needs and determine how best to address your needs within the context of a triple bottom-line approach that factors financial, environmental, and social impacts. FCS GROUP’s approach ultimately helps decision makers make sound and defensible business judgments: “Does the community need this project?” “Is this project the best approach to solving a real problem?” “Does this project balance the costs against the expected benefits?” “What risks are involved, and what are their real magnitudes and gravity?”

FCS GROUP recognizes that organizations have difficulty making key decision, in some instances, and benefit from an expert coach or third party advisor.

FCS GROUP assists utilities and service providers by identifying and evaluating organizational performance, effectiveness and efficiency. We help develop strategic planning efforts and organizational structures and assess the organization’s services. We prepare cost of service information and develop and facilitate the essential steps for change or transitions to new structures.

Our experts specialize in objectively determining what type of governmental entity a utility should run from a financial, economic, and business perspective in order to meet your unique level of service requirements. We help you improve their efficiency and effectiveness through in-depth evaluation and assessment of management and operational practices and provide a clear set of recommendations and implementation plan.

FCS GROUP supports utilities in matters of regional significance. This includes work with groups of utilities cooperating with one another in regional water supply, wastewater treatment, and storm and surface water planning; the formation of regional bodies to oversee or provide aspects of utility service; and interagency negotiations related to wholesale service or interties. We have supported or led negotiations, consulted with legal teams, provided subject matter expertise during public involvement processes, and assisted several municipalities in objectively determining what type of governmental entity a utility should run from a financial and economic perspective.

FCS GROUP leads and facilitates water, wastewater/sewer, storm and surface water, and transportation utility formations for municipal public works organizations.  Our consultants evaluate fiscal policies and objectives; create strategic ideas and input for legal documents for forming the new agency; establish a financial structure able to independently issue debt; negotiate options for long-term supply or service contracts; develop regional and agency connection charges/SDCs; analyze alternative funding scenarios; evaluate the impact of projects on the participating agencies; and allocate revenue requirements.  We also evaluate various institutional, financial, and legal structures for the new organization.  Finally, we provide hands-on support with public information forums.

FCS GROUP performs income and market-based appraisals of municipal and investor-owned water and wastewater utilities for sale to or purchase by our clients. We also employ versions of the cost approach to valuations using engineered replacement cost studies that we direct, to round out the generally approved methods of valuing utilities. We have also led, assisted, and supported negotiations related to acquisitions. The income-based valuations analyze earnings, cash flow, and rate equivalency to address buyer affordability, feasibility, and relative worth at known revenues and costs. FCS GROUP has substantial comparative sales for water utilities and sewer utilities, which are updated periodically. This information is used for comparable sales analyses.

Water, sewer, and stormwater utilities are provided by cities, counties, or special purpose districts, depending on their location. Under certain circumstances, these agencies might wish to consolidate to better serve the public, realize economies-of-scale operational savings, or accommodate a strategic growth action. FCS GROUP can assist utility providers in any scenario to identify costs and benefits; document operations; evaluate organizational structures; prepare cost of service information, and assess potential rate impacts during organizational transitions. In addition, our firm has assisted several municipalities in determining what type of governmental entity should run a utility from financial and economic perspectives. In the majority of cases, we work with a qualified attorney for legal counsel and an engineer to address system and capital cost impacts of such transactions.

Your Primary Contacts

Jason Mumm
Jason MummUtility Management Consulting

What our customers are saying

“You and your staff are a vital part of the District’s success in the continuation of meeting the needs of our customers, and have been over the past ten years. Your firm’s ability to periodically evaluate both our retail and wholesale rate analyses has guided the District to a positive position and continued excellent fiscal health to meet the needs of our customers as well as wholesale customers into the future.

We have also enjoyed the work you have done regarding strategic management and financial planning and utility acquisition support, as well as our inter-local negotiations we have had in relation to the other local governments in and around our jurisdiction…

I want to reaffirm our District’s position and satisfaction in having FCS GROUP as an integral part of what the Lakewood Water District does.”

Randall M. Black, General Manager, Lakewood Water District, Washington

“FCS GROUP was one of the most responsive firms I have worked with. I felt like they were always available to assist us with this project. I would continue to use this firm and highly recommend them to other agencies.”