EP SQUARE :: Project & Interim Management

Project & Interim Management

Alex van der Linden

Mobile network for energy network operators Alliander and Stedin

September 2013 to July 2015

Alliander and Stedin have chosen to deploy their own mobile telecoms network to facilitate readouts of smart meters and other smart devices in their energy networks. KPN was contracted to manage the tender for this network and to lead network design, build, deployment and support.

The tendering process resulted in the selection of suppliers IBM and ZTE. KPN was in fact the third main supplier, delivering connectivity, data centre services and the support organisation. Equally important, KPN fulfilled the role of main contractor for delivering the network to the energy companies. Working for KPN and being project lead, I was responsible for structuring this project together with IBM and ZTE, and to come up with an approach for delivery.

In order to delineate the teams we formed three sub-projects. One of these I managed myself, the other two I kept co-ordinated via the overall planning for which I remained responsible.

A project delivering a complete mobile operator from scratch is comprehensive and complex in its own right. However, with respect to content this project was well controllable as we had sufficient and competent resources. Also, I created a decision making process for architectural decisions to involve all parties (including the customer), thus creating maximum buy-in for design choices.

All parties being big players, each with their own goals, cultures and decision making peculiarities, it was often difficult to keep everyone aligned and committed to common results and planning. A big challenge was that halfway through the project, the customer decided to test smart meters on the (unfinished) network, but wouldn’t allow this to impact the delivery end dates. This led to serious conflicts of interest, and carried the risk that some parties would not reach their goals.

To manage this, I created a governance and planning approach based on the interdependencies between all parties both from the supplier side (KPN with ZTE and IBM) and the customer side (KPN with Alliander and Stedin, and their smart meter projects). This clarified the relationship between the project and its context on a planning level rather than only on a business level.

This planning was transparent and all parties committed to it, and it enabled them to understand the effects that business plans or decisions would have on project delivery time lines. This allowed for adequate and co-ordinated measures to mitigate impacts. Not only did this approach vastly improve the effectiveness of governance and control, but it also led to closer cooperation because it advanced mutual understanding and commitment for each other’s goals.

The project successfully delivered the network for production after a mere 16 months, allowing the customer to launch their smart meter roll-out according to plan in May 2015.

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