For energy leaders, there is no such thing as a typical consulting project. No two projects are alike and each project has its own specific challenges. However, there are designated project fields that we continue to work on with our customers. These are just as diverse as the issues faced by the RWE Group itself and cover virtually all of the facets of the classical management consulting or strategy consulting. These range from process optimisation, change and restructuring to internal benchmarking and strategy development or lean management.
Everyone is talking about agile project management: different methods, mainly based on flexibility and adaptability. In a project by Westnetz, the RWE Group's distribution system operator, agile project management has been used successfully
What was the task in hand? For the field engineers, who carry out technical work on the distribution network, a holistic concept for an innovative IT system (hardware and software) was to be developed. Together with the customers, a project team from innogy Consulting developed a suitable solution using the "TEAMSPRINT" method, where the teams work with tablets and apps that can be adapted quickly. A team was formed, made up of colleagues from different departments and with different skill sets. This team developed the solution as part of TEAMSPRINTs, which means according to tightly structured processes, during the course of several workshops.The team decided independently how to prioritise the tasks. It was important to find plenty of time for joint workshops, to work according to a structured process and to stick to short work cycles. "During each TEAMSPRINT results will be achieved", was one of the project team's principles.
And those results were communicated quickly in order to receive prompt feedback. Here, close coordination with the "veto group" was required – complex steering groups were not needed; instead the authorised members of the veto group were entitled to adapt the results at regular intervals after they were communicated. Jürgen Fuisting, innogy Consulting Partner, is very happy with the new methodology: "It really helped that we had a cross-disciplinary team who were able to focus on this task. We used an 80/20 approach and developed meaningful solutions quickly." And at the end of the TEAMSPRINT it was important to reflect on the performance. The project team analysed the development process as well as their collaboration during the previous sprint and then introduced improvements to their way of working for the next TEAMSPRINT on that basis.
The European Union has stipulated that all member countries implement smart metering in order to improve transparency and increase energy efficiency in the long term. Unlike existing mechanical meters, smart meters are electronic devices. The data collected is passed on to the electricity customers via an interface. This means that customers can see how much electricity they consume by looking at their daily or weekly statistics. The aim of this transparency is for customers to be able to get a feeling for how much they can save by switching off certain devices, for example.
As an internal management consultancy for the RWE Group, innogy Consulting functions as an interface in the Smart Meter rollout project. The consultants will sit down with subject matter experts within the Group in order to answer key questions, develop approaches and discuss strategic directions with management.
We will be analysing how the project and the new business can be integrated into the existing organisation. We will also be looking at what it will mean for the organisation, staff competencies, processes, data protection and security, as well as how it will change corporate culture.
innogy Consulting has also been tasked with the project management. The consultants will keep a close watch on the schedule to ensure that the Smart Meters will be able to be rolled out across the country as planned. They will be responsible for pilot projects and training design, and will identify new staffing needs and the relevant competencies required. The consultants will assist with efficient approaches and the selection of suitable partners, identify the needs in terms of meters and scope the functionality requirements.
The core focus of innogy Consulting Change Practice is to empower managers to successfully handle large and complex transformations at innogy or RWE. The ‘Delivering Breakthrough Performance’ programme provides a useful consulting format. Project teams working on important transformation projects can apply for the programme and, in parallel with the project, be accompanied by systemic change consultants for a period of eight months.
In short training units, teams learn what is required on the ‘how’ side in order to effectively implement the ‘what’ that is their project objective. Project members learn various change methodologies and apply these directly to their work. They also reflect on their leadership and communication behaviours and, by means of various interventions, obtain new perspectives on themselves as leaders, their work and their interactions with key stakeholders.
The programme is accompanied by personal coaching for each team member during the eight months, supporting the development of individual leadership skills. Targeted team coaching activities reflect the team dynamics and improve team cohesiveness and efficiency.
“Our experience with more than 60 project teams shows and that the combinations of different interventions at the individual, team and organisational level increases the long-term success of transformations and enables solid leadership and change skills to be developed within the Group”, says innogy consulting partner Julia Klotz.
Background of Project and Ambition
Central to driving its transformation into a customer-oriented solutions provider, innogy has established the “innogy Innovation Hub”. The Innovation Hub spearheads digital business models for the future energy world, working with both innogy units as well as cutting-edge start-ups. In this environment, innogy Consulting delivered a project in which it assessed possible applications of Big Data in the renewable energy sector and initiated the roll-out of concrete solutions.
Approach of the project team
The project team kicked-off a “scouting” process to identify demand for Big Data solutions with the highest improvement potential for the customers as well as the capabilities required to create the corresponding solutions. Soon it became clear that due to its technical equipment, the renewable energy sector was especially promising for big data advancements. After an in-depth analysis it was decided to build a predictive maintenance solution for a medium-sized onshore wind farm. The project team helped in selecting the right data, partners to build the solutions and, most importantly, the right business questions to be answered by the targeted solution.
Improvements due to the project work
Given the new business intelligence at work, operating costs for running the wind farm are being decreased while uptime, the time during which the turbines are actually producing electricity, is being increased. This increases the profitability of the wind farm and the amount of electricity produced, leading to more CO2 reduction compared to conventional sources. On top of that, the collection and processing of the data is a first step towards the establishment of data-driven business models, which the consultants at work also helped advancing. In that respect, the team lived up to the innovation mission and the quest for digital business models of the future that the customer wants to move forward.
innogy Consulting is also working on the digitalisation of the energy industry. Specifically, this project focused on the development of a standard digital strategy for the grid business in Germany including an implementation roadmap and an outline of the organisational implications for the grid business. The first step was to conduct a thorough analysis of the current state of digitalisation in the context of the grid business. During the initial operationalization, agile working methods such as SPRINTs were introduced along with the appropriate training for the employees.
An important aspect of the project was the emphasis on working for the end customer rather than for the organisation and always bearing the customer in mind. In this context, the focus on catering to customer needs meant always designing the customer interfaces from the customer’s point of view. In the end, new digital products, services and business models are useless if they aren’t tailored to the customer’s needs.
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