Case

Agile transition in the energy sector

What should you do if a complex project with important stakeholders threatens to stall and the quality and progress are jeopardized? Suddenly the project is in a place where no one wants to be. Just about everyone knows that the energy sector is in transition, but how do all good intentions come together and make progress?

The energy landscape is changing due to new sustainable forms of energy. This places different demands on infrastructure, information flows and processes. Not an unknown story. But that also requires one energy data system for all market parties. To achieve this, a program has been set up to ensure a new centralized system and standardization of the processes for transporting, allocating and billing energy flows (electricity and gas) at the regional grid operators.

This program (C-ARM) is the largest program currently running in the energy sector. It has a major impact on the sector and has many stakeholders with major interests, namely the 7 regional grid operators and 2 national grid operators. This makes it a complex playing field.

The C-ARM program was initially set up from a traditional (waterfall) model, but did not run as expected. “Failure is not an option” in this process, so we had to change course so that progress could be made again. But how do you ensure a transition that appeals to everyone and works.

Maurits:  “We then sat down with a number of people within the program to see from a task force how we could shape the construction and acceptance process differently. It was important to involve everyone in this process at an early stage, so that expectations are clear, adjustments can be made early and there are no surprises upon delivery. The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) has been taken as the starting point for this. There was a large amount of development work that had to be done, then multiple teams are needed to realize this within the planned timelines. In addition, an approach through Scrum offers the possibility to put together multidisciplinary teams in which the various stakeholders are represented.”

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A set-up has been chosen with multiple scrum teams that are given a clear focus by means of a Program Increment (PI) planning. Within this PI, the teams have the freedom to divide the work over the 4 sprints within this PI.
The teams not only represent people from the System Integrator and its subcontractors who build the system, but also employees from the central network organization and the various network operators. This gives the network operators a direct say in what and how is being built and they can make direct adjustments where necessary via the refinement and test process.

This set-up via SAFe provides the flexibility needed to be able to deliver short-cycle delivery and make adjustments. At the same time, this fits in well with the traditional and fairly heavy governance structure of the program that is required within a process with such major interests.

Maurits:  “Due to time pressure, we immediately started with 5 scrum teams. In the beginning it took some getting used to this new way of working, but it soon started to pay off. Do we now work fully agile, no. We have used various facets of Agile and Safe, but a number of things deviate from the standard procedure, for example due to the many stakeholders, the scrum teams have become slightly larger than what agile prescribes and the scope and time have already been set.” You could see that the new approach gave the various parties a greater understanding of each other's worlds, because they work together in a scrum team. The predictability in planning and quality of delivery (first time right) has also increased.

Would you like to discuss how the experience of Marcadus can improve your implementation processes? Please feel free to contact us. After all, together we know more and we are happy to share our vision and expertise.

Case manager

Maurits Willemsen

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