Feeding the energy transition’s need for speed
Making an ageing electricity grid fit for the energy transition means using the best that digital technology has to offer. For Dutch operator Enexis, that’s meant shaking up the way IT and business work together. Our experts have worked with them to transform their relationship with the rest of the business and make them faster on their feet and more innovative.
Enexis runs the grid supplying power to around a third of the Netherlands. With more households and businesses embracing solar power, as well as electric vehicles and heat pumps, the organisation knew it needed to upgrade the grid to cope with a two-way flow of power. But the war in Ukraine has sparked a spike in gas prices and more demand for electricity. In the words of Enexis CIO Joost Looij, it’s a “perfect storm”, with Enexis at the centre of it.
Facing a perfect storm
As it works to upgrade the grid, Enexis needs new ways to use the existing infrastructure more efficiently. Also, grid maintenance needs and grid investments are ramping up, but engineers are in short supply. So Enexis needs to get more from its teams in the field. Both challenges call for smart technology, but the IT function was struggling to keep up with the business’s needs.
Our experts saw the answer was to bring IT and the rest of the business closer together. PA Operating Model expert, Pim Masselink said: “It was a bigger issue than the IT landscape alone. The energy transition has increased the need for speed, but the distance between IT and the rest of the business was a barrier. To get them closer together we had to transform how nearly 900 people on both sides worked together. That meant understanding organisational structure, business processes, and IT combined.”
Bringing IT and the business together
With Enexis, we formed 14 ‘value chains’: multidisciplinary teams that look after a different service from start to finish, with agile teams working on both business processes and technology in three-week sprints. The value chains cover areas like planned maintenance and unplanned incidents, and customer groups like large and small energy users.
An important factor in making the new way of the working stick was that Enexis people ran workshops and discussions that produced the new structure and operating model and decided the scope of the value chains. “This helped Enexis own the changes and meant their people embraced them – an important part of embedding the new culture,” said PA Agile expert, Pieter Willem Kamstra.
Working as one team
With fewer organisational layers, Enexis can be more responsive to the demands of the energy transition. It can now handle projects like using AI and data to get the most out of the existing electricity grid while working in parallel to upgrade it.
Although demand on the grid is increasing fast, Enexis has kept the average length of downtime incidents stable – a sure sign of better performance. The business has also become a more attractive employer for IT specialists and engineers, reaching one magazine’s national top ten non-IT organisations.
Looij concluded: “PA’s team worked alongside us, helping us to design a new organisation and make the change happen. That took expertise in business, IT, governance, and agile working.” We’re now developing Enexis’ long-term IT strategy as well as shaping a collaboration between all three Dutch electricity grid operators.