The best of two worlds – the Smart Meter Rollout proves that agility and stability are not mutually exclusive
Smart Meter Rollout at WESTNETZ and MITNETZ STROM
In order to master the energy transition, power generation, consumption and power grids must be intelligently networked. Intelligent metering systems (iMS) and modern measuring equipment (mME) for tracking consumption data, so-called smart meters, are of central importance in this context. The law on the digitalization of the energy transition will mark the start of the installation of smart meters in 2017.
WESTNETZ GmbH and Mitteldeutsche Netzgesellschaft Strom mbH (MITNETZ STROM), two of the largest distribution network operators in Germany, plan to replace all old appliances in their customers’ households and businesses with mME and iMS by 2032. Within the framework of the Smart Meter Rollout project, the system-related and process-related implementation of hardware and software components for the installation, replacement and billing of mME and iMS will be ensured across the board.
During the integration of mME and iMS into the existing process and system landscapes of distribution network operators and basic metering point operators it was necessary to keep a permanent eye on the dynamic changes in legal and regulatory requirements, technical feasibility and market requirements. In the course of the implementation, comprehensive process and system optimization potentials were identified and implemented, especially to avoid manual interventions.
In order to be able to meet this challenge reliably in the shortest possible time and with continuous quality assurance, the project management decided to implement the project according to the Scrum framework.
In the first phase of the project, it was necessary to create the framework for the implementation of agile projects. Among other things this included the team composition, the communication of a uniform understanding of the project plan, the conceptual design of an application for mapping the Scrum artifacts and the creation of a comprehensive communication platform. Crucial for the successful implementation of the Scrum framework was the coaching and daily support of all roles (Chief Product Owner, Product Owner, Scrum Master, Developer-Team, Stakeholder). consistency took over the role of Scrum Coach and Scrum Master for several teams.
After the basic requirements for agile software development were met, we started the implementation phase with five Scrum teams in August 2016. Thus, the first mME went “live” in spring 2017.
The project extended over eight locations throughout Germany. Around 130 participants, distributed among five Scrum teams, conceived and developed new, innovative solutions across in each sprint.
Agile scaling was achieved with the help of instruments such as the Product Owner Board, Scrum of Scrums, Scrum Master Boards, regular review workshops and the group-wide exchange of stakeholders.
The Smart Meter Rollout shows how agile methods can be facilitated to overcome challenging regulatory requirements in established system environments. Early, regular deliveries and established requirement processes don’t oppose each other, but can be modeled. With this understanding and the willingness to take innovative measures, we were able to quickly deliver valuable results, increase transparency, improve communication.
In addition to the creation of an overarching systems engineering foundation to increase performance and quality, the project has initiated a noticeable cultural change. The close, constructive and appreciative cooperation between the departments and the IT service providers is a visible expression of this.
“Thanks to consistency’s expertise in the energy industry and their extensive competence in the introduction of agile methods, we were able to create the right framework for agile software development at an early stage. The relentless dedication and appreciative approach to the teams significantly increased the acceptance of the new method and contributed to the dynamic and constructive cooperation. The scaling of Scrum in the order of magnitude would not have been conceivable without experienced consultants like those from consistency.
JAN-WILM-BUSCHKAMP – FORMER HEAD OF SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT WESTNETZ
“The complexity of the extensive process and system adaptations within the scope of the Smart Meter Rollout presented us with great challenges. The support of consistency’s experienced consultants during the implementation and establishment of Scrum as a method was of decisive importance. The conviction and extraordinary commitment to this agile approach, coupled with the high level of industry expertise and IT knowledge, enabled us to implement the complex requirements across many systems in high quality”.
ALEXANDER TITZE – HEAD OF SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT MITNETZ STROM
“Agile methods bring important themes such as meaningfulness, transparency and self-organisation onto the agenda. The continuous development as well as the appreciative cooperation at eye level brings people closer together. With the right amount of enthusiasm and understanding, we help employees to critically examine their working methods and existing processes and to search for new solutions. If you want to stimulate the attitude of your employees as well as the technical implementation of complex tasks, there is no getting around agile management methods”.
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