Aug 2, 2011

Community and Communication: How Edison SmartConnect Excels

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Southern California Edison's SmartConnect PMO has placed among the semifinalists in the PMO of the Year competition for two years running (I can think of only one company that has done this in the history of the award: The National Council on Compensation Insurance in 2007 and 2008). I took a closer look at their application essay to see why the diverse pool of judges consistently rated them so highly.

Wow! I'm impressed, too. As the command center of a huge program that involves 5 million electric utility customers as stakeholders, the SmartConnect PMO has proven that a highly technical project management function can also excel at the "soft" side of project management.

Not that they haven't got the "hard" side nailed down, as well. This is an extremely technical program, and one which represents a major strategic change for the public utility - moving from a focus on supplying electricity to a focus on helping the consumer regulate and monitor his/her own demand. Doubtless the wireless "smart" metering system is the wave of the future, as it assists individuals and the utility as a whole in reducing the carbon footprint of a household ... or an entire city. It's exciting to see project management used to meet new challenges of this type.

But back to the "soft" side. Here are just a few of the stakeholder management and communications successes that Edison SmartConnect achieved:

  • Not only customers, but meter readers, customer service personnel and billing personnel had to receive training in how to operate new systems.
  • Customers in particular had to become active participants instead of passive consumers. The PMO drove the development of a communications and education strategy centering on a video series in Spanish and English (See "Carl & Eddy" here).
  • They held 26 community outreach events to respond to public concerns. And, on installing the one-millionth meter, they organized a media event around the occasion to further promote the program.

Pulling off a program with stakeholder communities this large, varied and complex is a feather in the cap of Southern California Edison ... and of the project management discipline as well.


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