Digitizing Project Delivery: Building a Data Lake in the Middle East
January 23, 2020
When countries are growing quickly or recovering from years of conflict, getting power grids up and running is critical. That puts a premium on timely project delivery. To help its customers achieve this, GE’s Grid Solutions has built a data lake in the Middle East.
This structured collection of high-quality data drawn from a wide range of data sources both within GE and from suppliers and partners is part of a broader digital thread that GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business has deployed across its Middle East and North Africa operations to upgrade every aspect of the project management process.
As a result, GE’s Grid Solutions is achieving better project controls to optimize personnel scheduling and cost management, and project analytics to enable historical and predictive modeling for more accurate project planning, timelines and costing. Perhaps most valuable to customers, it includes project transparency features that allow GE and its customers to track the progress of a project in real time.
“Customers want you to be transparent with them. They want to know where you stand today; will you be on time; will equipment be installed on time,” said Thierry Huttois, MENAT Project Controls Leader for GE Renewable Energy’s Grid Solutions business, “That’s no surprise, because the projects we do are so critical. Substations in Iraq are essential to building up the whole nation.”
With this digital transformation of project management, customers can see project updates “are based on solid, reliable data that shows exactly where the project is and where it’s heading. This gives them comfort and a trust and that makes them happy. If we say the project is on schedule, they can see it is, and if there are any delays, they can see how large and who or what is responsible.”
The power of this new, digitized approach to project management has been recognized and awarded by the local project management industry. At the CPR UAE Cost, Procurement, Risk Awards 2019 held in Dubai, Riyaz Ahmed, Head of Project Control Gulf and Iraq, GE’s Grid Solutions, won in the category, “Outstanding Project Control Manager of the Year.” The full Grid Solutions Project Controls team, led by Huttois, won in the category, “Excellent Project through Innovation in Cost, Procurement and Risk Management.”
Samih Elsadig, who led the Saudi Project Controls team, added, “Project management is like flying in a cockpit. You need to be able to constantly read your instruments to know where you are and how the airplane is doing. With a project, if you can’t check the analytics displayed on a project dashboard, you might find a couple months before the end of the project that your forecasts don’t make sense. With the digital thread, we have that dashboard providing clarity on where we are, so we can make the right decisions to preempt any issues and stay in control.”
Grid Solution’s digital transformation began by capturing project data on everything from how many hours an engineer spends on a project task and the delivery delays of suppliers, to the completion time for civil works. By putting all this data into the “lake,” Grid Solutions is able to build a deeper understanding of its project process.
But it’s not just the collecting of data that differentiates this digitization approach. The program collects and stores the data in a way that eliminates silo-ing. Traditionally, project data is scattered across an organization. With different departments or individuals holding data, it’s difficult to get a holistic picture. That can create a lack of transparency and accountability. More generally, silo-ed data makes it harder to identify risks and issues, and to analyze and take actions to mitigate them.
On the other hand, with more data collected on every aspect of every project, it’s easier to more accurately estimate costs and time. With all data collected into one data lake, Grid Solutions can perform almost any type of query on a micro or macro level to understand how a particular project is performing, how the whole business is doing or whether specific areas are performing particularly well across projects or alternatively affecting delivery.
This provides powerful insights that guide project bidding and planning.
Building on this data, GE monitors common project management indicators such as On Time Delivery, S-curves, EV curves and Critical Path modelling. But these are enhanced through digitization, which means GE can quickly assess this data across countless different projects to better prepare schedules or derive trends, issues or opportunities.
Beyond these familiar indicators, this digitization allows Grid Solutions to create new models, including Delay Root Cause, which helps identify and monitor the root causes for delays and assess recurring root cause delays. A Say/Do ratio lets GE see clearly how the company is doing in terms of deliverables. An Over-Planning tool compares forecasts with past performances.
Collectively these tools allow Grid Solutions to better plan and more accurately provide costings and timelines for future projects – all while monitoring ongoing projects and creating visibility and transparency for GE and its customers. The result is better on-time, on-budget delivery, happier customers and more electricity available as promised.