25 Feb, 2002 — A new study explores how effectively electric and gas utilities are aligning their strategies and people to overcome organizational challenges and seize new business opportunities.

The Cambria Consulting study is placing the emphasis on the role HR is playing in such critical business strategies as mergers, acquisitions, technology investments, entrance into new markets and cost-cutting initiatives.

“As a result of deregulation, economic slowdown, volatile commodity prices, and regional challenges of under- and over-supply, the utility industry has undergone major restructuring and redeployment of capital and human resources over the past few years,” said John Hendrickson, partner, Cambria Consulting.

“The question for HR is whether they are enabling the change – and truly acting as a business partner – or simply responding to business as usual. We know there is a connection between business success and HR alignment. This benchmark effort will allow us to empirically demonstrate that point and learn more about how the best companies are making alignment happen – where they are investing, what skills are most in demand, and how they are managing and rewarding performance.”

According to Hendrickson, the findings will give companies both inward and outward perspectives on how well their business and HR strategies are aligned. For the internal perspective, the study will assess the clarity, uniformity and execution of business strategies across 10 different functions. For the external perspective, the study will provide a comparative assessment of companies within the utilities industry, including a view of what industry leaders are doing.

The study will be largely accomplished electronically – speeding up the process and lessening the expense for participating companies. Instead of managing the politics and logistics of benchmark visits, company representatives will simply log onto the Web and, in about ten minutes, complete the two sections of the benchmark survey – one part devoted to business strategy, the other to HR processes. Subsequent analysis will draw correlations between the business strategies and the HR processes – and provide comparative benchmarks.

Cambria will collect survey data during the first quarter and provide individual and aggregate results in the spring, both at company locations and at expositions in San Francisco and Boston. All results will be confidential, with no data attributed specifically to any of the participants.

“The results will certainly be timely for utilities that are crafting and implementing new business strategies to meet the demands and expectations of shareholders, consumers, regulators and Wall Street,” said Amy Reece, co-project leader. “Companies will see more clearly what industry leaders are doing and where they can make specific improvements.”

Cambria Consulting, Inc. is a Boston-based consulting firm specializing in people strategies that drive business performance. For more than 20 years Cambria has helped utilities and other organizations achieve their strategic objectives more effectively through the design, development and implementation of HR solutions. To learn more, visit the firm’s Web site at www.cambriaconsulting.com.