CenterPoint Energy Transmission Line Program Management

Cost-efficient Project Management

Challenge: Until their successful partnership with Think Power Solutions (Think Power), like many other Utilities CenterPoint Energy did not have a sophisticated project controls and project management system to execute their transmission line projects. CenterPoint Energy used common database, spreadsheet, and scheduling software to execute their projects. While this may have had shortcomings, the job always got done. With increasing regulatory compliance requirements, more complex projects, stringent outage requirements, and an ever-increasing keen eye on the detail for actual spend vs. budgeted spend, CenterPoint Energy wanted to be proactive and positively change the Utility’s project execution culture.

CenterPoint’s needs were as follows:

  • CenterPoint Energy wanted to develop a comprehensive project controls and project management system while at the same time not burden and distract the engineers from their core competency.
  • CenterPoint Energy wanted their engineers to design projects, but because engineering is critical in the execution of projects, they are also required to coordinate with several other teams to ensure a successful project execution.
  • CenterPoint Energy is also facing a knowledge drain due to retirements. Their engineering group has grown younger. Given this, CenterPoint Energy thought the time might be right to add a more robust Project Controls and Project Management system and bring in some cool and practical technology to do the same.

To strike a balance of changing decades-long culture of the Utility while at the same time adapting to a fast-changing world at CenterPoint Energy - diverse cross-functional team of engineers, designers, land agents, and construction manager’s working from multiple locations, CenterPoint Energy was looking for a comprehensive solution. They wanted every member of their team to have access to the same schedule and be on the same page for successful project execution. CenterPoint Energy wanted their team members to know their responsibilities and deadlines for the milestones and activities. They wanted to avoid an all too often scheduling challenge - the project schedules were used to report past progress, but were too cumbersome to be used as a tool to focus on the immediate priorities.

CenterPoint Energy also wanted to ensure internal and external teams’ work load is balanced through a simple, yet effective resource loading program. CenterPoint Energy wanted to track budgets and actual spend in real-time in a cost-effective manner. Once they created a baselined schedule and control estimate for a project, they wanted forecast monthly spend more realistically. As is often the case, the spend rate for most projects do not follow a linear path from beginning to end. They typically begin on a shallow curve with jumps as right-of-way and material costs occur, followed by a steeper construction spend rate to completion. CenterPoint Energy wanted to evaluate internal teams and the numerous vendors working on their projects to determine the specific challenge in a complex project and also use the experience to provide feedback to the team member and vendor. Being in the ERCOT market with increasing challenges for Outage Requests, CenterPoint Energy also wanted to track outage requests and regulatory compliance for Before Peak and After Peak projects. This is to ensure projects are not delayed due to missed deadlines that could delay customer projects due to missed outages.

While CenterPoint Energy wanted all the items mentioned above, they wanted the solution to be economical and lightweight while at the same time robust and secure. A turnkey solution of services and software is what they wanted to pursue.

In a nutshell, CenterPoint Energy needs were as follows:

  • Develop a comprehensive project controls and project management system
  • Make it easier for all stake holders (Right of Way, Engineering and Construction departments) to keep track of schedules and upcoming milestones
  • Reduce over-burdening of engineers through effective resource loading
  • Establish project baselines and financial control estimates to track effectively the projected monthly spend
  • Track outage requests and regulatory compliance monitoring
  • Contractor and engineer performance monitoring
  • Economical, light-weight, robust and mobile friendly system

Solution: Think Power staffed the project with industry veterans with considerable experience on Primavera P6 project management software who have worked for multiple Investor-Owned Utilities and also customized their software Think Power ONE to cater to CenterPoint Energy’s specific needs. Think Power ONE is a secure project management and business intelligence portal which provides actionable, real-time intelligence using real time dashboards. For CenterPoint, Think Power integrated data from Oracle Primavera P6, SAP and Excel spreadsheets to provide one holistic view of project execution and progress addressing all of CenterPoint’s needs. Think Power quantified project execution versus schedule, regulatory compliance, engineer performance, resource loading, budgeted spend vs actual spend etc. into real-time Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Resolution: CenterPoint Energy is excited about the direction in which they are headed in their partnership with Think Power and has led them to implement several new data-driven best practices in their company. Think Power ONE helps CenterPoint Energy in all aspects of their project management, resource loading, cost loading, financial management, documentation management, and benchmarking activities.

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