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How Sensei’s project, portfolio, & work management solution is supporting Hydro Tasmania’s production of world-class, clean, renewable energy.

When this Tasmanian utilities provider sought better visibility and controls across its portfolio of projects, Sensei Project Solutions was engaged for the delivery of its project, portfolio and work management (PPM) solution. As a result, Hydro Tasmania today enjoys a standardised approach to all projects, clear processes for project managers, an uplift in project management capability, and accurate information on all current and past projects.

Hydro Tasmania is Australia’s largest generator of clean, renewable energy, and champions for a sustainable future. For more than a century, Tasmanians have relied on Hydro Tasmania electricity to grow communities and the economy. Employing more than 1,300 people, the company produces about 9,000 gigawatt hours of clean electricity from hydropower annually with a system offering total capacity of more than 2,600 megawatts. Hydro Tasmania’s assets include 30 power stations and more than 50 major dams. The company’s vision is to help make Tasmania the renewable energy battery of the nation, creating an energy future that is clean, reliable, and affordable.

“Sensei listened, asked penetrating questions & took the time to work through the details. This proved invaluable as it left no doubt about what we needed, with consistency of expectations across our team and theirs.”

Brad Turner, Head of Major Works – Hydro Tasmania

Situation

Hydro Tasmania’s Head of Major Works, Brad Turner, says the company partnered with Sensei because it recognised a proactive opportunity for improvement, rather than facing a business problem.

“Within our roughly 100-million-dollar annual capital program we have up to 300 projects running at any given time. While we have a works management system describing how we implement these projects, and SAP for financials, the challenge was that none of this was visible.

” This is not to say there were not records or data on these projects – there most certainly was and is. However, the data tended to get siloed within individual projects and much of the information was captured in spreadsheets. From a portfolio or executive perspective, this meant everything appeared to be fine.

Unless, of course, it was not.

“What this means in practice is that if we wanted to find a problem, we’d have to go looking for it,” confirms Turner. Such an approach effectively puts projects at risk because there is no clear or dependable early-warning system to alert executives to issues which, if handled early, could be mitigated, or addressed through targeted intervention. “We wanted something which would bring any issues to management’s attention as soon as possible so we could respond before something minor became something major,” Turner explains. “We wanted to be alerted well ahead of time.”

Solution

After internal discussions brought Turner’s attention to Sensei’s PPM solution, he engaged with Melbourne Water and SA Power Networks, two companies in the same industry where Sensei had previously implemented PPM solutions. “As it happens, our requirements were similar.”

Meeting those requirements, Sensei was tasked with implementing its PPM solution, integrated with Hydro Tasmania’s financial system: SAP Financials.

Turner says the most notable thing about setting up the software was its delivery during the COVID-19 lockdowns. “We actually thought this would be a huge challenge, but in practice, execution was flawless,” he comments. “After an initial setup engagement and the creation of a high-level statement of work setting out the project plan, Sensei facilitated multiple workshops over video conference on the Microsoft Teams platform, worked through the details of the business requirements and what success looked like, and then set off on the build.”

He has praise for the effort made to clearly establish business requirements. “They listened, asked penetrating questions and took the time to work through the details. This proved invaluable as it left no doubt about what we needed, with consistency of expectations across their teams and ours,” Turner adds. A build phase was followed by user testing prior to the rollout to Hydro Tasmania’s 40 to 50 project managers.

“This is probably the only software project I’ve ever been involved in that has gone well. It was delivered on time and on budget, and with a uniquely problem-free delivery. That has contributed to business value, and as we look to expand the platform further, there is a lot of confidence in Sensei’s capability.”

Brad Turner, Head of Major Works – Hydro Tasmania

Results

Brad Turner is enthusiastic about the benefits the company is getting from the solution, noting that early on Hydro Tasmania was already seeing value such as structured
approvals of documentation and change requests. “A lot of this effort is about introducing a standard way of doing things. That provides the baseline from which we can gain more visibility across our portfolio,” he says.

Furthermore, he notes that the staff tasked with project management across the company tend to have varying skill levels; not all are formally trained. “The exercise of understanding our requirements, then rolling out a standardised tool has therefore delivered a capability uplift in our overall project management capabilities.”

The key advantage of visibility is also becoming apparent and is expected to provide a consolidated view for executives once all projects are loaded into Sensei’s PPM solution.

“Already we can see key metrics – for example, if project managers aren’t updating their schedules, project directors are alerted – and it is immediately managed.”

By using Sensei’s Project, Portfolio and Work Management solution Hydro Tasmania now enjoys a standardised approach to all projects, clear processes for project managers, an uplift in project management capability, and accurate information on all current and past projects. More than anything, Turner views the PPM solution as a powerful tool which helps project managers move their initiatives towards a successful conclusion. “This isn’t about oversight; it is about providing support where it is required. There is an element of governance, but we are not out to find fault. We’re out to identify who needs help, additional resources and provide a structure which supports desired outcomes.”

He adds a final comment in support of the value Sensei has delivered. “This is probably the only software project I’ve ever been involved in that has gone well. It was delivered on time and on budget, and with a uniquely problem-free delivery. That has contributed to business value, and as we look to expand the platform further, there is a lot of confidence in Sensei’s capability,” Turner concludes.

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