Bringing a 116-Year-Old Utility Company Modern Business Practices to Improve Productivity and Enhance their Bottom Line

Where They Started

This sizable utility company has been providing energy to nearly 10 million customers within the U.S.A. for the last 116 years. This company has been characterized by a deep traditional organizational culture, which turned out to be detrimental in adapting to more modern business models.

They found it difficult to trust the benefits of embracing digital options internally and especially with their customers and resulting in inefficiencies when providing services to their community. Their locally optimized internal operations resulted in redundant tasks, which jeopardized internal and external communication dynamics.

For instance, each time the company desired to develop a new application, they had to stand up a new team. Given how costly this is, people were assigned to many projects at the same time. The company’s support application area was approached during the next stage in much the same manner, as separate teams would handle the application once it was developed.

The original project team had already been dissolved. The solution proved to be a device resource layout that isolated the team members as they worked exclusively at the local application level, making it particularly difficult for production support enhancements to be approved.

Within this consistent pattern, product owners were anyone who had subject matter expertise. This increased the overall cost to make a decision. Accordingly, projects traveled through phase gates and needed to meet a checklist of approvals before the next gate could be started.

As a result, the leadership team reached out to Kaizen Consulting for assistance in building its internal digital capabilities and managing this organizational change.

Current Status

After working with them for a year and a half, we developed a strategy focused on digitalizing the technical and organizational abilities based on a custom delivery calling model. Work is now prioritized at the customer experience “journey” level. This new focus has enabled the company to assess its work based primarily on its NPS score and quickly adapt its technology investments as markets shifted.

Accordingly, we restructured the workflow by creating portfolios based on these customer experience “journeys” instead of individual projects. This ensures the timely completion of high-quality work regardless of the nature of the work.

Thanks to the team’s exclusive attention and deep learning of a single customer experience area, there are no longer gaps in product ownership, as each team is free to execute production support, enhance existing applications, and build new software. Furthermore, each team can handle support work, allowing them to improve the system as a whole whenever it is necessary.

Adding new teams to a portfolio ceased to be a problem because its solid base ensures that each team remains on the same page and shares the same specialized knowledge. Under this new type of organization, the product owner role becomes the sole decision-maker to prioritize work and is the person responsible for assessing his team’s ROI.

This scaling model has allowed the organization to do the work that would have taken around 30 teams to around seven teams. It has also reduced the time to develop an application from 12-14 months to approximately 3-4 months, depending on its complexity.

The Goals

Our Approach


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