Agile Project Management for Utility Contractors

Whether you call it utility contracting, utility support services or specialist civil engineer, chances are, if it needed a software solution, GeoPal could have provided it. Having a 50% market share in Ireland brings more than just market dominance: it brings expertise and insights about the current challenges that that sector is facing. 

Agile Project Management for Utility Contractors

GeoPal’s agile expertise in Utility Support Services

Utility Support Services was GeoPal’s first vertical and remains in our sweet spot, as can be testified by our expanding cohort of happy clients in Ireland, the UK and even further afield.  

When we first began one of our first customers was Morrison Mainline (now the Mainline Group) who operated in the utility contracting sector working for Irish Water, EIR and ESB Networks.  This is what they needed:

  • the ability to manage tasks
  • quickly capture field information specific to their client contracts
  • deliver it live to their client reporting solutions

Years later and the needs are broadly the same but we’ve grown and so has the sector.  GeoPal now works with about 50% of large Utility contractors in Ireland, several large UK operators including Babcock and Actavo and international concerns like FLSmidth and Landis + Gyr.  Mainline group remain a valued customer and partner of GeoPal.

The Utility Support Services landscape: assumptions vs reality

Utility Support Services makes for an interesting case study, since it encompasses a variety of companies operating across seemingly unrelated playing fields: from infrastructure services such as roads, tunnelling and rail, to multi-utility projects. Yet, looking beyond their apparent differences, by the time these enterprises come to GeoPal, their needs move around the following commonalities:

  • They compete for contracts and therefore need to manage both margins and costs very closely
  • The work is highly skilled but also labour intensive
  • They all wish to measure their performance to standard metrics across contracts
  • Each new contract client has a unique set of KPIs important to their project

So, when a GeoPal customer wins business with a new contract client, KPI reporting and proof of Service Delivery will be at the top of their list of requirements. The metrics to fulfil with their new customer are always unique to the work and the client goals, regardless of whether a Reservoir is being poured or Fibre is being installed. 

Having worked on many such contracts with a broad base of customers we have a simple checklist to get a new GeoPal project up and running in days for test and go live in weeks with integration to external systems.

1 – Establish the Data needs

Having nailed down these details, you are now in a good position to understand what information you need and where it will need to go.

2 - Create a simple Prototype

Having mapped processes and tested the data capture we now have test data to use when considering reporting and a clear idea of how the hierarchy and field structure should look in GeoPal. 

3 – Create the field structure and system hierarchy

Once this is in place the system can be run end to end stopping short of any reporting to validate the process flows work and logic loops work as expected.

  • Data Needs Project Management Utility Contractors
  • Prototyping Project Management Utility Contractors

4 – Build up the data outputs

Data outputs means many things and this statement is deliberately vague, some common scenarios are discussed below:

Regardless of the specific requirement, what is never vague is that client works with us to create their outputs to match the contract and stakeholders needs.

5 – UAT and Go Live

Having established the data needs, mapped the processes, built the prototypes, created the field structure and written the reports its time to join everything up and try it out.  

User Acceptance Testing is where the truth comes out, have we thought of everything (Never), did we get all the right opinions (probably not), are we expecting it all to work (nope) but this stage allows us to shake out the bugs and refine the process for a rapid Go Live.

  • Data Outputs for Project Management Utility Contractors
  • UAT for Project Management Utility Contractors

Conclusion

Once the UAT changes are implemented, the system is up for that contract and a happy client usually results.  The above process takes from 2 weeks to 2 months depending on the complexity and availability of stakeholders, most of the time the learnings from one contract can be used on the next so each client rollout process gets shorter providing another saving.

At any given moment, the GeoPal team is working with 15-20 customers to help fulfil their clients project needs, they are all run on a standardised Agile Project Management procedure delivering value and results rapidly.

Get in touch today to discuss the needs of your next project.

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