Case Studies

Project Management
Business Consultancy
Strategic Development
Operations Management

Project Management

Scenario

A project with the Energy Systems Catapult to develop a first-of-its-kind simulation tool for the future energy system, called EnergyPath® Operations (EPO). The project had faced some challenges and was not making the progress needed to deliver the required outputs to meet the time programme.

Solution/Actions

The project needed firm direction. A short time was needed to understand the expectations of the stakeholders, the team, the project deliverables and the risks. Once this information gathering was complete, clear focus was given to the team and the contractor to achieve realistic short-term deliverables. Progress reviews were put in place along side a demanding plan to make up for lost time to accelerate the pace of delivery. The contractor staff were moved into the client office to improve communication and to ensure that work continued interrupted.

The internal and external stakeholders were engaged to enable needed resources and to create a positive environment within which the team could succeed.

As the project moved into the next phase of delivery, the project structure was changed by insourcing the project team to ensure effective control of the team. Existing contractors and permanent staff were then supplemented by the recruitment of a further 15 contractor staff to form the team required to deliver the project scope. Clear direction was always provided, and frequent progress meetings and reviews continued throughout the development of the simulation model to ensure that blockers were promptly resolved.

Results

The project delivered the short-term deliverables including interim reports of research findings, architecture options and the forward development plan.

The restructured project team delivered a working model to simulate elements of the future energy system including technology, business and communications layers.

The model continues to be developed to meet the requirements of interested parties that wish to investigate future business opportunities in the energy system including new offerings to consumers and novel business models.

Project Management

Scenario

This ongoing project is to develop and install a district heating scheme at Caerau, north of Bridgend in South Wales. The scheme, which is being developed by Bridgend County Borough Council, will extract heat from the disused mine at the head of the valley, intensify it through heat pumps and then circulate it around the houses in the village to create a low carbon heat source as a benefit for the occupants. The project was delayed due to a lack of resource being available to move forward the essential tasks.

Relations with other departments in the council were strained due to a lack of understanding of the project and concern about the project risks. This was affecting the support of the Governance Board.

Solution/Actions

The project risks were identified, and a clear action plan created to enable them to be mitigated.

Representatives of the Governance Board were engaged to fully explain the project, the wider ambitions for the development, and to lay out the risks and the full risk management strategy.

Council departments were engaged, including Finance, Procurement, Legal, and HR to foster support.

A detailed presentation was made to the Council Cabinet to secure their backing for the project.

Engagement meetings were held with the residents to understand their individual situations as well as their understanding and feelings about the project.

Results

A credible process for managing the significant risks to the project was established and agreed and a number of the risks were eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels.

The project had a viable time programme agreed with the internal and external stakeholders.

The project budget was formulated, which was understood by the project team and agreed with the stakeholders.

Stakeholders and the Governance Board were supportive of the project and helped to resolve problems so maintain project momentum.

The necessary future project team was defined and agreed.

Business Consultancy

Scenario

The business owner was concerned about the operational cost control in the business which was evident from persistent cost and time over-runs. There were also issues with staff morale and retention.

Solution/Actions

Initial engagement with the business owner was useful to understand his diagnosis of the problems, and the underlying causes.

By meeting and interviewing a cross-section of staff it was possible to understand the work that they carried out, and to discuss the issues that they faced and barriers that prevented them from delivering. This revealed problems in job estimation, adherence to allowed times, and communication issues.

The results were analysed to make recommendations to enable better control of the research projects, to improve HR processes, and to make internal communications clearer and more regular.

Results

The recommendations, which were presented and written up in a report, were put into effect by the business owner and the project teams. They resulted in:

More accurate control of project time and costs by effective subdivision of the projects
Better tracking of projects progress
Sharing lessons learnt between projects and between staff
Regular staff communications implemented to enable employees to be more engaged in the business
Revised organisational structure
Staff reviews to enable skills development to be effectively carried out.

Strategic Development

Scenario

A company-wide transformation programme was being rolled out, utilising the assistance of a consultancy organisation as the systems integrator (SI).

Several historic systems were to be replaced by a single enterprise-wide system (ERP). The ERP would be in place for many years, so it was important to ensure that the system was designed for the future of the organisation, not replicating the legacy systems.

It was therefore essential to have an explicit strategy for the Connections Projects division to ensure that the processes built into the ERP system were “future-proof”.

Solution/Actions

Strategy workshops were held with key customers to understand the current and future needs of customers.

The regulatory landscape was assessed to anticipate future requirements for processes to support competition, and likely needs for performance measurement and reporting.

Internal workshops were facilitated with staff from Connections Projects and other associated departments to review the operational processes and interfaces that enabled the existing processes to operate.

Results

A Strategy for the Connections Projects division was created, which was shared with the systems integrators that were developing the ERP system.

The organisational structure of the Connections Projects division was assessed to determine its fitness for purpose for the future.

The strategy provided a robust definition of the needs of the division and defined the framework for the Target Operating Model (TOM) and the future process development to be judged against.

The appropriate level of automation was reviewed to ensure that there was a balance between process efficiency and the ability of the organisation to change processes in line with future needs.

Operations Management

Scenario

The Projects division of the Connections Business was segmented geographically into three areas. Each area employed different technical standards, and the cultures were very different.

The organisation was significant, employing more than 200 staff, and with a turnover of over £100m. The division’s role was to design network solutions to connect customers to the electricity distribution network.

Solution/Actions

The differences in processes were assessed to drive towards alignment.

The organisational structure of the division was reviewed, and changes made to save managerial headcount. The common functions were merged to share best practice and improve overall efficiency.

Performance measures were aligned with the customer needs. This supported a drive to make improvements to processes and behaviours by making different regional performances visible and by helping staff to see that improvements were working and helping them to embed the changes for lasting benefit. Customer satisfaction measures were tracked to ensure that improvements were benefitting the customers.

Stakeholders, including customers and consultants, were engaged at events that blended presentations of future plans and initiatives with question and answer and feedback sessions to ensure that strategies and plans were aligned with real needs.

Financial reviews were held every two weeks and corrective actions taken to ensure that the results were tracking or exceeding the budget every reporting period.

The management team took time to speak to staff and to demonstrate an interest in them when visiting the office locations. Active consultation was carried out concerning matters that affected them. This was particularly important during the changes that the division went through while the regions were being aligned.

Results

Efficiency improvements equated to c15% through reduced headcount per unit of output.

Customer service measures showed significant improvement.

Financial targets were exceeded month-by-month.

Improvements in employee satisfaction and engagement were achieved.