Why do some renewable energy capital projects succeed while others fail? More often than not, the answer is having a repeatable approach to Project Execution and Project Management. While this may sound basic, being able to execute with distinction every time is hard, especially for start-ups who oftentimes have been spending their energy on product development and not their plan for deployment. Having a consistent approach not only allows for a solid foundation to start from – but it’s crucial when it comes to scaling the business while ensuring customer satisfaction, safety and profitability.
At Hover Energy, we have the benefit of a management team that brings decades of experience running successful product launches across a wide range of industries. The following are what we believe are the top five strategic imperatives for successful project execution, and hope they’ll provide useful insight, whether you’re a startup looking for best practices, or an established company seeking to streamline your processes.
1. Separate core technology and project execution decisions.
This may sound intuitive, but all too often, in the spirit of client customization, the lines between the core technology and product execution can blur. In the case of Hover, our core technology is our microgrid, consisting of our wind turbine array with solar and storage and an associated control system to tie everything together. As we think about project execution, we are focused on how to make the installation successful for each particular client – decisions such as the location of the installation on the roof and structural/electrical modifications needed, location for assembly of each turbine before being lifted on the roof, the sequence of installing each element and the lifting itself.
2. Utilize EPC Industry Methodologies and Best Practices
Using industry best practices has several advantages. Oftentimes it serves as a “common language” between the supplier and customer, which streamlines communication and minimizes potential confusion. It also provides a repeatable template, which is critical for scaling as the company scales. As is standard for capital projects within the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) industry (per the table below), each project follows four stages from beginning to end – Project Feasibility, Project Definition, Project EPC, and Project Operations
It is critical to avoid making changes during Stage 3 and Stage 4 to avoid costly and harmful to the project
3. Define the Best Fit for a Project Management Structure
The decision on which project management structure depends on the company and client goals and capabilities. The key is to decide on a project management structure that can be deployed against a portfolio of multiple projects.
Regardless of structure, for Hover, each project is divided into manageable segments of work, including contractor service areas such as Structural, Electrical, Architectural, Materials Testing, General Contracting, Construction, Transportation, Inspection, Critical Equipment, and Surveying.
4. Ensure Competition and Value Delivery with Contractor Relationships
Having a consistent and repeatable approach for contractor relationships is one of the most important aspects of successful project management and execution. For Hover, having a single contracting management team, led by the Program Management Contractor, gives us consistency across all projects, the ability to create synergies, and gives us the ability to have a “high level” view to ensure we don’t exceed contractor capabilities.
Depending on the size of your organization and the number of projects being planned, the number and role of the contractors needs to take into consideration market conditions (both current & projected) during contract strategy selection, with construction & safety management prioritized to determine the best value to the program. For Hover, to optimize our ability to scale, the contracting management team utilizes multiple, larger contractors, each with regional or nationwide capability.
5. Properly align Business Model and Project Execution Decisions
This one may also seem obvious but needs to be kept top of mind from the outset of project management decisions. The software industry is a classic example, where the business model can be either a one-time product sale or as a subscription (software as a service). Decisions on how the product is deployed and serviced flow slightly differently for each model. For Hover, the two keys models are based on whether the customer will “buy the equipment” or “buy the electricity”.
If the Customer “Buys the Equipment”:
If the Customer “Buys the Electricity”:
In this article, we’ve used Hover Energy examples to illustrate the kind of decisions and considerations needed when thinking about successful Project Management and Execution. Like all companies, we will learn and adapt our processes, but believe having a core set of imperatives ensures we have a scalable approach – one that gives our employees and clients confidence and maximizes the amount of time we have available to get things done quickly and efficiently.