Project Assistants’ Case Studies

Utility Company Improves Project Management Infrastructure

Deregulation of the power industry has provided many opportunities for Conectiv Power Delivery, but the mergers through which the company was formed left it with an inconsistent project management infrastructure. By performing a thorough assessment of the current state of project management within the company, Conectiv has been able to build a more developed and organized project management infrastructure that has allowed the organization to complete projects on-time and on-budget.

Situation

Conectiv Power Delivery, a Delaware-based subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc., transmits and distributes electricity to more than one million customers in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Conectiv also provides natural gas to nearly 120,000 customers. The deregulating power industry has created new opportunities for Conectiv – it operates independent power plants, markets wholesale energy, and offers energy management services.

Conectiv Power Delivery had recently formed as a result of the merger of Delmarva Power and Atlantic City Electric, two companies with successful project management track records, but entirely different project management methodologies. The resource constraints brought about by deregulation diminished the level of organizational support, particularly in the standards and scheduling areas, and led to increased project responsibility for individual engineers. These individuals used their own experience as a basis for managing projects, since there was little documentation available on the project management processes of the predecessor companies and no clear definition of how Conectiv intended for project management to be practiced in the new environment.

In addition to a lack of process history, there was also a decrease in the quality of historical project data. In such an environment, engineers were generally able to manage projects successfully, but in a very individualistic way, by adopting a “do whatever is necessary” model. This often led to competition among projects for scarce resources, at the expense of overall organizational financial health.

In this environment, Conectiv was able to complete critical projects, but at an unnecessarily high cost, both for external resources and internal resources not efficiently used. Since much valuable project information was kept in the heads of experienced project managers, there was no assurance that even this level of performance could be sustained as new project managers joined the company.

As a result of these specific issues, Conectiv expressed a desire to reach a level of sustainable, reproducible project management maturity, with a suitable infrastructure in place to support continuous improvement in project management.

Solution

Project Assistants, Inc. assisted in this process by first performing an Organizational Project Management Assessment for Conectiv, to evaluate the current state of Conectiv’s project management capability. Because Conectiv had already determined that additional training in project management was necessary for those with such responsibilities, Project Assistants was able to combine the usual management interview methodology with feedback from over 100 participants in seven two-day Basic Project Management courses. This feedback from class participants provided an opportunity to examine the current level of project management performance from the perspective of both senior management with organizational resource and process responsibilities and of those who actually manage projects at Conectiv.

To accurately determine the current state of project management at Conectiv, Project Assistants performed the following activities:

  • Conducted interviews with senior management, as well as business development, engineering, operations, IT and other essential project management resources (14 interviews)
  • Asked all 100+ participants in the Basic Project Management classes the following question: “What kinds of organizational support would make the process of project management more effective at Conectiv?”
  • Reviewed current project plans, methodology and templates
  • Developed a strategy and plan for improvement
  • Documented and presented a written assessment report detailing key findings and recommendations. Categories included in this report included the following:
    • Detailed Current State Findings
    • Conectiv’s position in the Project Management Maturity Model
    • Recommendations for Improvement

After a thorough evaluation of the current state of project management at Conectiv, Project Assistants made several recommendations; key among these recommendations was the creation and provision of customized training and documentation to make sure that everyone understands the basic approach required to ensure adherence to a consistent project management methodology.

Project Assistants developed highly-customized training materials and provided training to Conectiv project managers at two levels:

  1. Basic Project Management: Theory and PracticeThis course, which provided a basic overview of project management theory, focused on the following areas (as they relate to project management at Conectiv):
    • The Concept Phase
    • The Plan Phase
    • The Execution Phase
    • The Closeout Phase
  2. Advanced Project Management: Project ExecutionThis course, which was targeted at more experienced project managers, focused on the following issues (as they relate to project management at Conectiv):
    • Planning Projects at Conectiv
    • Scope Management
    • Time Management
    • Cost Management
    • Risk Management
    • Quality Management
    • Communication
    • Human Resource Management
    • Management
    • Procurement Management
    • Integration Management
    • Project Closeout

Benefits

Armed with a clear understanding of their project management infrastructure and the tasks necessary for improvement, Conectiv and Project Assistants jointly developed and provided project management training for much of the company’s project management resources. Project managers learned the “Conectiv Way” of doing project management, which has resulted in a much more unified approach to project management. The project management infrastructure is currently more developed and organized, which is helping the company achieve its goal of consistent on-time and on-budget project completion, which in turn is allowing the company to better meet the ever-changing needs of the utility industry.

Project Assistants, Inc.

Project Assistants offers a comprehensive suite of consulting services, custom development, education and products to assist organizations at any point of their project management evolution. Project Assistants clients increase their ability to manage risk, maximize ROI, effectively manage change, and increase confidence in making decisions. Project Assistants is based in Wilmington, Delaware and has offices nationwide. To learn more about Project Assistants, a Microsoft Office Project Premier Partner, visit www.projectassistants.com.