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”.
User Stories formuliert
Agile Project brings Substantial Performance Improvements
Significant Improvement of Quality, Efficiency and Flexibility at a UK Energy Company
To substantially increase its profits, a UK electricity and natural gas supplier with nearly 10,000 employees is pushing ahead with a series of cost-cutting programs. One focus is to generate cost savings through the reduction of IT platforms.
Three IT-landscapes (Domestic, Small & Medium Enterprises (SME), Key Account/Multisites) were reduced to two. Thus, around 90 percent of SME customers were to be transferred to the B2B sector and 10 percent to Business Solutions. This was a result of price transparency measures enacted by the regulatory authority which made the SME segment legally similar to the B2C clients.
consistency was commissioned to implement a scaled agile management approach. The goal was to facilitate the migration of SME customers to the new target landscape and to methodically support the client and its external software service providers – frictionless and with minimal system adjustments.
The Scrum framework was used instead of the classic waterfall model. This helped to ensure significant quality improvements, more efficient implementation, faster adjustments and a strictly prioritized procedure. Founded on a scaled Scrum approach with three IT-implementation teams and six “Non-IT” teams, an entire program (including the Program Management Office) was managed using agile for the first time.
In the beginning, all-day training sessions were conducted to teach the basics of agile and Scrum. The executives learned about the opportunities and challenges of agile working in so-called “Agile Awareness Sessions” – divided into 30-minute sprints.
In addition to the ongoing learning and change processes, nine Scrum teams spread across two continents needed to be set up, coached and managed. Another challenge was using an external service provider to implement software in accordance with internal customer requirements. The added value of the iterative procedure needed to be demonstrated in practice. Thus, an agile method was already chosen for the assessment of the new IT service provider as well as project initialization. In addition to intensive technical consulting, one consistency consultant took on the role of Agile Coach. Furthermore, a contract was set up to promote continuous agile cooperation with the service provider – through the use of an Agile Balanced Score Card.
The Chief Scrum Master led by consistency supported the entire non-SAP environment in six workstreams, as well as customers and suppliers in agile implementation. Further, a total of seven Scrum Masters were coached. Thus, after only a short time period, a continuous agile approach was implemented – from senior-level management right through to software development.
With the agile program, the IT landscape for small & medium-sized enterprises was dissolved and the customers successively transferred to the new domestic landscape – As per request by the client. Furthermore, the program established a new strategic IT partner with an agile skill set and using the Agile Balanced Score Card promoted agile collaboration with all service providers. With the help of Scrum, the vague legal requirements were efficiently implemented, thereby proving that agile methods ensure success! This certainly set a new precedent in the organization – from which many projects will follow.
“Due to its “lighthouse” importance, there was no way this project could be allowed to fail. consistency consultants came equipped with a combination of sound industry- and utilities-knowhow. Thus, the international project team was able to meet and even largely exceed all project goals in “time, quality and budget.”
“It was fascinating to see how, after overcoming the first hurdles, agile thinking spread almost virally in the house. For example, in order to work even more intensively, the Scrum teams took on the responsibility of creating their own workspace. In the end, success was the result of a collaborative effort. When teams do their job with so much enthusiasm – it’s a really great feeling!”
SAP Scrum teams
Non-SAP-Teams (IT & Non-IT)
MIL POUND BUDGET
Million Pound savings per year
Months implementation phase
On the Road to Success with Agile Project Management in Scrum
Agile Transformation at RWE Vertrieb AG enables the Rapid Restructuring of Sales Processes
To introduce a CRM industry solution in the B2B division of RWE Vertrieb AG (today Retail innogy SE), an agile project team began working in accordance to the Scrum framework. Within a period of six months, the launch of the pilot installation for new customer processes was attained on time and within the planned budget. Furthermore, the target extension on all sales processes, including the migration of customer data from the former CRM system was completed within a year.
As part of the restructuring of RWE Vertrieb AG’s sales processes, the CRM industry solution EVI was implemented as the main component of an end-to-end process based on standard products. It supports all processes in B2B energy sales, from the first customer contact all the way through to billing. consistency was commissioned to introduce, coach and responsibly manage agile project management with Scrum.
In order to successfully complete the project within the set time timeframe and defined budget, new avenues had to be explored. Based on a jointly defined IT target architecture, the optimized functional and process landscape was planned and implemented for the first time with agile processes. In addition, the diverse internal and external project participants were managed using an interactive cooperation model.
The project had a total duration of 18 months and was divided into two project phases: A six-month pilot phase, followed by an extension with a targeted duration of 12 months. The pilot phase involved the go-live of the new customer acquisition process – including the necessary market communication and billing processes. The strict priorities were set in line with “Agile & Lean” principles which meant that initially only the two highest-yielding products were implemented in the system. Together they accounted for around 90% of the client’s gross profit.
To implement the project, consistency introduced a scaled Scrum approach. It included a total of four parallel Scrum teams – CRM & Calculation, Product Mapping & Billing, Market Communication, and Reporting. The teams consisted of experts from the client side as well as internal and external IT service providers. The Scrum framework helped the teams to collect regular feedback, ensure tight team-wide coordination and a high-level of quality in software development.
After the six-month implementation phase (structured in 3-week sprints), the pilot for acquisition in a selected B2B sales area for electricity customers successfully went live. It provided important insight for the further course of the project.
During the second project phase, the optimized sales process (with all processes and products for all eight sales locations) was implemented in regular delivery cycles. Additionally, the migration of customer data to the new system was carried out. Training the 250 users proved to be a challenging task.
The overall project was completed “in time, budget and quality”. It was then transferred to a continuous program for the further development and maintenance of the entire B2B and B2C process and system landscape.
In addition to increasing the performance of the sales processes and optimizing the system landscapes, the agile-managed project drastically reduced IT and process costs. The results of the first phase which was completed ahead of schedule, received unanimous approval, not only at the technical level. Achim Suedmeier, CEO of RWE Vertrieb AG, and Michael Neff, Group CIO, who closely followed the project from the onset because of its immense importance, were also extremely satisfied:
“We can be very proud of this project team – with the emphasis on “team”. It is sensational that a newly assembled team can act so successful right from the start. This innovative project is a prime example of how our company values should be enacted.”
“The new company had inherited diverse system landscapes, which we needed to harmonize and frequently adapt. The complexity which resulted from a high-level of system diversity made it extremely difficult to react quickly to new market requirements and to launch new products. Especially in the B2B sector, long reaction times are no longer acceptable in the liberalized energy market. The agile approach supported by consistency has significantly advanced us in this regard.”
HEAD OF RETAIL IT GERMANY
“The way in which the project was organized, as well as the cooperation model was what distinguished the approach from standard IT projects. All participants were able to fully identify with the project. Management truly exemplified the agile values and principals and thus, spread their enthusiasm throughout the entire team. After successfully completing the project, my team (including myself) cried tears of joy. It was then I realized that emotional investment and team solidarity are key success factors.”
B2B Scrum TEAMS
PROJECT EMPLOYEES IN THE B2B SUBPROJECT
MIL EURO BUDGET
MILlion EURO SAVINGS PER YEAR
MONTH IMPLEMENTATION PHASE
Successful Implementation of Standardized Market Communication Processes through SAP IS-U Common Layer and Agile Software Development
consistency was hired to support the agile implementation of the SAP IS-U Common Layer Introduction for the re-standardization of the market communication processes of a German energy company in the market role “supplier”. As a central component of the complete restructuring of the process and system landscape B2B and B2C, it was necessary to replace the specially built market communication solution in the existing CRM system with the new SAP standard. The objective of the customer was to reduce the high system development costs through the bi-an format changes and at the same time to generate significant process efficiencies in the department through an optimized BPEM treatment process.
The market communication team responsible for implementation worked in a total of 13 Scrum teams as part of a scaled Scrum approach supervised by consistency. The team was composed of department representatives, internal and external SAP developers (ABAP developers and customizing) and a Scrum Master, which was appointed by consistency. The primary goal for the start of the implementation was to develop a minimum viable product aligned with agile principles. This was to be done as quickly as possible in order to reduce time to market and receive valuable feedback.
Within six months:
The implementation phase was divided into 3-month sprints with the goal to integrate SAP IS-U common layer specification into the existing SAP landscape. The solution included UTILMD processes. GPKE (AP & A), APERAK processes for UTILMD, MSCONS, INVOIC, master data changes inbound and outbound (power only) and allowed for automated picking. The pilot was successfully set live for acquisition in a selected B2B sales channels for electricity customers and provided important insights for consequent project phases. The modular structure of the SAP IS-U Common Layer significantly supported the agile implementation of the project.
In the course of the following project phase, the standard processes of market communication for the entire B2B and B2C customer segments spread out in further sprints. By means of strict prioritization, based on customer value, the processes “delivery start, delivery end, basic and substitute supply and master data change” were successfully implemented. Furthermore, the optimization of the BPEM clarification process was implemented and developed on the basis of incoming user feedback.
For all adjustments in the SAP landscape, the team-oriented as closely as possible to the standard version of the SAP IS-U Common Layer. The insight gained from regular production deliveries enabled the necessary adjustment requirements to be implemented directly.
After the 18-month implementation phase, a viable and production-proven market communication solution was ready. The Scrum agile approach enabled a cost-efficient and risk-minimized implementation. The prioritized implementation of important functions and regular delivery made it possible to avoid expensive or redundant features.
“The agile way of working shaped individuals into a team. With the introduction of SAP IS-U Common Layer, we demonstrated that the group can successfully implement system standardization with agile methods. A sustainable success story that proves itself again and again with every market format update.“
“When SAP developers train each other in their Scrum teams to build new cross-functional competencies, you can see how the agile mindset works.“
SAP Implementation – Success through Agile Offshore Teams
consistency was commissioned by an international energy company to facilitate the frictionless transfer of a business customer segment (small to medium-sized customers) by introducing and supporting a scaled Scrum approach. With the help of agile software development and the tracking of “lean” principles, customer migration to the new target landscape (SAP) took place with only minor system adjustments. For cost reasons, the technical implementation was carried out by offshore teams. The Scrum framework allowed the teams to stay in close contact with customers and the onshore teams.
The initial team structure within the scaled Scrum approach was based on the well-known need for customization in the existing SAP systems CRM and IS-U. Three parallel Scrum teams were formed: Customer acquisition and administration in SAP CRM, measurement data processing and device management, and settlement and claims management in SAP IS-U.
At the beginning of the project, a three-week “sprint 0” served to sharpen the project vision, detail the rough adjustment requirements in the form of user stories and define a “minimum viable product” (MVP). The development of work practices within the teams was encouraged by on-site project visits by the central offshore teams.
As part of the nine-month implementation phase, the key challenge was to maintain communication and collaboration between onshore and offshore project teams. The implementation of the Scrum method also promoted a noticeable increase in the quality of communication and sense of community. All Scrum events (Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review & Retrospective) were conducted via video conferencing. Thus, teams in India and England were able to coordinate regularly across time zones and received continuous feedback from the customer side.
In each of the three SAP Scrum teams, Product Owners, Stakeholders and Acceptance Testers worked in the onshore implementation team. The other implementation team members including Unit Testers worked offshore. With the installation of a Scrum Masters on- and offshore, short coordination paths were achieved, and impediments quickly resolved.
The quality and speed of the implementation of SAP changes and the cost-efficiency of the project had a lasting positive effect on the perception of agile methods in the company. The number of agile projects is being significantly increased, as well as an enterprise-wide transformation of the company is being prepared.
“In the past, successfully coaching a team of five companies, three nationalities and spanning 7,000 kilometers, with a time lag of several hours was virtually impossible. Today, digital communication technologies such as Skype for Business and Atlassian JIRA combined with lived agile values such as trust, transparency, empowerment and openness make it possible. Agile teams can communicate successfully around the clock and across continents to achieve goals together.”
Agility Convincingly Implemented – Pilot Project of an IT Subsidiary triggers Corporate Agile Transformation
The German IT service provider of an international banking group specializes in the development and implementation of software. With the goal of reacting more quickly and flexibly to dynamic changes in the market – future IT projects were to be carried out using agile methods.
A major part of consistency’s task in this mandate was to gradually enable and support the project team. This was achieved by implementing a framework for future agile software development with Scrum and identifying the most well-suited projects of the international Banking group.
Between the beginning of 2016 and the spring of 2017, consistency’s agile coaches enabled five project teams to apply the Scrum approach in a methodologically consistent manner. In addition, Scrum Masters and Product Owners were trained to lead, support, and become responsible for future agile projects.
The first step was to develop an initial governance model for the German IT service provider. Its function was to serve as a “blueprint” and define the framework conditions for the agile understanding of the entire banking group. The first stakeholder awareness session provided the involved executives with the agile approach – thereafter the first agile pilot was launched!
After only a short time period, employees increasingly developed their own initiative and improved work processes through agile elements. One department became so convinced of the agile approach and its results, that they quickly changed their entire way of working to agile.
This project demonstrated that even in the traditionally rather conservative banking environment, agile projects generate considerable gains in efficiency and flexibility and that teams quickly begin to enjoy agile cooperation. Scrum is not only a framework for responsive and efficient project management but also a highly inspirational change model for better collaboration. Even small pilot projects can successfully anchor the agile way of thinking in participants. The overall success was demonstrated by the fact that at the end of the project, consistency was asked to also support the banking group with its agile transformation.
“Introducing Scrum always means triggering cultural change. This requires experienced consultants with a great deal of sensitivity for the critical issues. Employees who are used to working in fields with traditional hierarchies, can work more efficiently with agile methods, take on more responsibility, as well as deliver concrete results more quickly – demonstrating how pioneering cleanly implemented agile processes work in practice.”
agile Project Team members
NEW AGILE DEVELOPERS
Future-Proof Re-Positioning for the Opening Swiss Energy Market
Increase Competitiveness and Strengthen Market Position through Business Model Generation
In preparation for the opening of the Swiss energy xmarket, a well-established energy service provider had to reposition itself with a customized business model. The focus was on the active expansion of new services in the area of remote meter reading, energy data management and portfolio management.
In addition to evaluating the current market situation, new service products for electricity and gas commodities were to be developed. consistency was commissioned to carry out a market analysis and set up a new business model in accordance with the Business Model Generation Approach (BMG).
In the time leading up to the BMG process, a comprehensive market analysis was carried out. It reviewed possible competitors and market potential. In particular focus were services offered on the Swiss electricity and gas market in the areas of remote meter reading, energy data management and portfolio management. The market research was complemented by a SWOT analysis and profitability analysis. At the same time, to lay a target framework, the cornerstones of a new vision and strategic orientation in the market were formulated.
The new business model was then developed and mapped using the Business Model Generation Approach – With nine sections along the Business Model Canvas. First, the value proposition that defines the service products for the electricity and gas commodities was adapted the customer segments which were differentiated by segment, market role, and customer size. After analyzing and defining suitable distribution channels, measures were defined to create and strengthen long-term customer relationships. The most time-consuming – as is often the case – was the determination of revenue and cost structures, as well as the resulting pricing for each service product. All factors together form the platform for identifying key activities and partners to implement the business model. Furthermore, the target organization including business roles and role profiles were defined. At the end of the WHP process, the vision and strategic direction defined at the outset were reviewed, verified and differentiated.
Once again, BMG proved to be a practical method for joint strategy analysis and transparent development of new strategic options. By presenting it comprehensively on a canvas, strengths and possible weaknesses became clearly visible to all involved. It encouraged them to think in terms of alternatives and new solutions. By applying BMG, it was possible to develop a new business model for the client in short time and cost-effectively. The company has successfully used the new model and positioned itself in-line with market and customer requirements.
“Our task was to quickly immerse ourselves in the different areas of the company, to analyze and restructure the majority of processes and existing structures. In intensive exchange with the various business units and management levels, we were instrumental in helping our clients create a highly promising business model that would be accepted by their stakeholders.”
Rock it Lean – A New “Operating System” Revolutionizes Cooperation in a Utilities Company
Fundamentally Transforming Ways of Thinking and Working
The energy transition presents German energy suppliers with ambitious challenges. One of Germany’s largest energy companies is heading in a completely new direction. Everyday working patterns and the way in which staff is managed has fundamentally changed and new skills are being developed. The implementation of the “lean methodology” in combination with behavioral and systemic adaptations are predicted to meet the demanding goals. The organization will receive a completely new “operating system”.
The company is committed to a new way of thinking and working. Through the transformation program, they are striving to become the blueprint of a modern utilities company. The combination of lean management and systemic change should enable the company to successfully meet the growing expectations in the long-term – preparing them for dynamic and at times even disruptive market changes.
Above all, consistency supports the change program in the planning, monitoring, and supervision of the transformation. In order to fully achieve the challenging and ambitious goals, the program must be understood, lived, and implemented as an integrated management system.
Although the program is largely standardized and its application defined in principle, the real challenges lie in the implementation and the required flexibility and adaptability. The goal is to continuously increase the level of transparency within the organization, as well as to support participants along their “change journey” and with individual development.
The program has three key areas of focus: Leadership Behavior, Operational Excellence, and End-to-End Process Management. The focus is on continuous improvement and the pursuit of excellence. To achieve this, tasks which lie outside the comfort zone must to be tackled. Transparency must build the foundation.
Plan, Do, Check, Act! The most demanding and challenging performance goals (leadership development, employee and customer satisfaction, and financial performance) will be achieved through the new skills and work practices.
The change journey’s progress is tracked by maturity levels, whereby the assessment is based on the degree of work and performance implementation. In addition, an established sustainability system for the maintenance and further development of working methods ensures the process of continuous improvement.
To successfully implement a transformation program of this magnitude, change must be consciously managed. What should be achieved? How should it be achieved? And above all, why? Answers to these questions are critical to success. Once again, it is important to approach success in small steps, with constant review and adjustment. These factors are what make sustainable change possible.
For this purpose, we successfully combined lean and agile elements from different contexts to work towards common goals – rethinking the role of individuals and removing hurdles that limit successful Solutions.
“In my opinion, when it comes to the most demanding challenges in such complex transformations, two things count: Already instilled values and principals in project and corporate culture; and not trying to achieve everything at once, but rather to consciously allow time for change.”
“The majority of clients across all industries understand the necessity for change. Through lean management and agile transformation, the challenges associated with these comprehensive changes can be mastered and anchored in a sustainable way. We look forward to contributing to the continued success of such extensive programs with great appreciation, professional and methodical competence, commitment, and entrepreneurial engagement.”
WAVES OF IMPLEMENTATION