As a part of my company’s Capital Planning & Governance, I spend almost 50 percent of my time working with project managers of our energy delivery organization.
The project managers oversee and help execute thousands of projects of our Smart Energy Plan, which is – simply put – projects that will enhance reliability, safety and security of the electric grid in Missouri.
They often serve as my main points of contact for project description, location, and benefits when preparing messaging and materials for other arms of the organization.
Although the “iron triangle” might be in the back of their minds, they’re also balancing communications of projects, bids for contractors, suppliers for materials, entering information into multiple systems.
Not to mention, we have a team of close to 20 project managers who might execute more than 900 projects in a given year. This doesn’t include planning for outer year projects.
Our company does utilize an enterprise portfolio project management tool to help track projects in various categories, costs and forecasts, risks, documents as well as gate approvals. Although the EPPM could serve as a “source of truth” for some, it falls a bit short for our organization.
We rely heavily on the project managers to generate the project in the EPPM (better known as OPPM), but when they don’t complete all fields or don’t have all the information, it makes an information trail much harder.
In 2019, our team developed a SharePoint, which would serve as one “source of truth” for information around Smart Energy Projects. The idea was for the project managers to provide updates and information on a monthly basis, which could satisfy multiple business functions such as regulatory, legislative, corporate communications and business accounts in speaking about projects. The problem?
We spent months developing and building it out. We conducted several interviews with multiple groups to ensure we’d have the needed fields as well as libraries to retain photos and content of projects.
We even conducted usability testing and studies to better understand pain points for users before rolling it out.
We didn’t get consistent buy-in from the project management group, which has lead to the birth of another system – Unifier.
We’re now undergoing focus groups and discussions to develop the tool into one source of truth. The problem? It isn’t meant for a number of business functions.
The solution? To stop creating more systems. Well sort of.
We currently have an ecosystem of systems that feed off each other to provide a full spectrum of information around Smart Energy Plan projects. What I and other groups have failed to do is to bring all parties together and get a consensus around a process that could work for all parties.
Along those same lines, we haven’t stepped back to evaluate the needs and design a site that works for everyone.
We’re far down the rabbit hole of Unifier and getting that underway, which is another waste of time, resources and a whole new system that may or may not be used.
Ideally, we can come together, discuss and figure out a solution together, instead of constantly adding a new system.