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Utilities: Is your Smart Grid Project Transition effective?

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This author no longer works for DNV GL.

Is your AMI Smart Grid project nearing its end? Have meters been deployed and the network optimized? Is this really the end of the project? What about the many project roles and responsibilities that need to continue? Who will take over these project activities? And, are they ready to accept them?

Project Activity Transition
Proper analysis of business and technical functions currently performed by the project must be performed before a project ends. Proper transitioning of these activities into various departments within the utility is crucial to maintaining the on-going effectiveness and integrity of the operational smart grid.

Commonly called business or sustained transition, it is the process of identifying AMI Project functions that must be transitioned to the organization’s business units, planning for an orderly work transition, conducting organizational readiness, and executing the transfer of responsibilities to enable on-going support of the AMI system and the communications infrastructure at the end of the project. This activity is required to transition functions performed by the AMI Project to business units who will be responsible to manage AMI in the production environment.

How to Assess the Activities to Transition
Project transition begins with an assessment of AMI project work that will need to be maintained going into production. Results of the work analysis are documented in a business transition plan for each major piece of work. Various tools can help with the work analysis, such as process charting, work breakdown structures, task analysis, and duty task trees. The goal here is to identify all project work that must be sustained as on-going activities. Examples include monitoring grid operations, maintaining the communications infrastructure, corporate IT systems and data management, meter firmware testing and deployment, and contracts management.

Next, determine skills requirements, resource needs, and supporting tools and systems for each work. Skills matrixes, resource matrixes and workforce plans are used to document this activity. Then identify the organization business units that should be the recipients of the transitioning work. Meet with each group, presenting and discussing the transitioning work. Typical business units that get impacted by the AMI sustain transition effort include Grid Operations, Meter Shop, Customer Service, Information Technology, and Distribution Operations.

Develop a Work Transfer Plan
A Work Transfer Plan (WTP) is useful to document and present, in a concise manner, the work that must be transitioned, the skills required, quantified level of effort for the work, and tools and systems that must be in place to enable the worker to perform the activity. The WTP includes a schedule of the transitioning work and sequence of work transfer. Job aids, instructions, and documents required for the organizations who are receiving transitioning AMI work are developed. An organizational readiness is performed that includes change management and training execution. Here, the “to be” processes are implemented in the organization. Personnel receive the required training and knowledge transfer to enable transitioned work performance. All system requirements are in place.

End the Transition Properly
Finally, the AMI work is transitioned. The transitioning work is performed according to the agreed to sustain transition schedule. Post transition follow-ups and support is provided as required. Guidance and support for the work transition process and for the post transition activities determine the success of work transition.

Conducting a business transition effort before the AMI project ends will result in a smooth and efficient transfer of project functions and activities to proper utility organizations who will be equipped to accept the work. As the project winds down, all critical project activities will be transitioned to ensure that they continue effectively when the AMI project finally ends, and the project team dismantles. Some of these project team members will transition to the various organizations responsible for transitioned work. Knowledge is not lost, and personnel are utilized correctly.

Want more information on how to transition your smart grid project? Contact me at Milt.Omoto@dnvgl.com.

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