In the first part of this 2-part interview series, Miranda Alldritt, President, Copperleaf Americas, talks to us about the development of the Copperleaf™ Value Model Library and the vast knowledge and experience Copperleaf has gained from working with multiple customers from different industries around the world.
What is the Copperleaf Value Model Library? How does it tie into what we do?
“Copperleaf helps our customers make better decisions. We work collaboratively with our customers to evaluate current business processes and implement strategies for change management and improvement. What we’ve found is that many organizations are grappling with the same challenges—regardless of industry or geographical location. For example, utilities across the globe are challenged by the impact of new technology, aging infrastructure, evolving regulations, and a changing business environment. They all want to make better decisions about where and when to invest in their businesses to maximize value and mitigate risk. However, defining what “value” means can often be the biggest challenge, and every organization has its own unique view. We work with each customer to develop a decision-making framework that’s directly tied to their strategic objectives.
The Copperleaf Value Model Library captures this body of knowledge and because it is dynamic and constantly evolving, it ensures our customers are aligned with industry best practice into the future.”
What does the process of developing a Value Framework look like?
“We work closely with our customers and try to meet with many different stakeholders so that we can really understand the company’s strategic objectives, financial parameters, risk matrix, key performance indicators (KPIs), constraints, etc. The Value Framework is built by compiling the strategic objectives of these diverse stakeholder groups, then identifying more granular metrics that can be used to evaluate the contribution of a given investment to those objectives. We call these value measures. For example, a “Healthy Environment” goal could be valued in terms of reductions in CO2 and energy usage, and avoidance of environmental risk. Each investment will contribute to one or more of these numerical measures, providing a better understanding of the value of a given investment.
Once we’ve identified all of the value measures, we then determine which value models will be used to evaluate and optimize potential investments. The models can come “off the shelf” from the library, or can be based on models that already exist but tweaked to accommodate a particular customer data requirement. We also develop models from scratch for customers who have really unique requirements.
The Copperleaf Value Framework provides an enterprise-wide view of all the value measures that support the organization’s goals.
At the end of this process, the Copperleaf Value Framework provides an enterprise-wide view of all of the value measures that support the organization’s goals—as well as the models used to calculate how individual investments or projects affect those measures.”
Why did we build the Value Model Library?
“The library has been a work in progress for almost 5 years and embodies Copperleaf’s collective experience developing value frameworks for some very well-respected organizations, including BC Hydro, Duke Energy, Anglian Water, and others . Through this experience, we’ve been able to see the broad spectrum of what customers need and value, and the similar concerns and challenges they share. Utilities are natural monopolies and can therefore share benchmarks and knowledge, and leverage benefits collaboratively. They understand that by sharing best practices, they can become stronger and improve their own performance.”
What are the key benefits of the library? How does it help our clients?
“It can be daunting for a new customer to develop a value framework from scratch, so having the library provides a good starting point and makes it much easier and quicker to build their own framework. Oftentimes prospects don’t believe how quickly we can get them up and running! The library is especially useful for utilities working in regulated environments because the methodology has been accepted by peer organizations and regulatory bodies, and is therefore known to be credible.”
What industries can benefit from the Value Model Library?
“Many industries can benefit from it. The Copperleaf Value Framework is primarily being used today by utilities in the electric, natural gas and water sectors, but it extends very naturally into oil and gas, transportation, pulp and paper, mining, telecommunications, and information technology. Going into the first project I ever worked on in the oil and gas industry, I was expecting the organization’s needs and strategic goals to be quite different from the electrical industry, but learned that their fundamental values are actually very similar. They are both concerned with environmental impact, economics, safety, risk, and reliability metrics. This is why many different industries can benefit from similar value models in many areas—because their core values are alike.”
How is Copperleaf’s approach to developing a Value Framework unique?
“Utilities typically have such high engineering and financial complexities, with tens of thousands of projects in play, that employees either can’t do what they need to in Excel, or else they’re simplifying the details to the extent that they’re no longer useful for analysis.
The Copperleaf Value Framework platform gives our customers a rich set of capabilities to efficiently run optimizations for hundreds of thousands of investments impacting millions of assets.
There are a lot of theoretical models out there, but the Copperleaf approach uses models that are already being used and have therefore been proven across various industries. The value models in our library are a great asset to the customer who wants to expedite the development of their value framework.”
Do you have any anecdotal stories about how the Value Framework was received?
“We recently won a Technology Impact Award from the BC Tech Association for our work with the B.C. Government’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO). The OCIO manages the Information Management / Information Technology capital investment portfolio for 24 ministries and offices, including Agriculture, Education, Energy & Mines , etc. As you can imagine, all of these groups have very different interests and priorities, which means trade-off decisions have to be made across a broad spectrum of value—from hard financial benefits to societal and environmental benefits. It was an exciting project because we had to come up with meaningful ways to measure how IT investments benefit British Columbians.”
For more information on how to create a value framework and the benefits of providing a consistent means to value all investments across an organization, check out our white paper on this topic.