Organization Structure in Wind Turbines Projects
- Sandeep Kumar
This study is about the wind power giants' merger, pre and post-merger situations, changes in organizational structures, its benefits and impacts. The positive synergy was derived from Balanced Matrix organization structure, which was actively involving the internal technical resources in Project Management activities. Thus an existing vendor development initiative was utilized to develop new engineering suppliers which were to be managed by technical leaders. These actions post-merger resulted in better control of projects, immediately responding to spikes in project requirements and cost competencies from vendors.
Before the merger the team was working in a functional organization structure. This resulted in idle time for engineering team during the waiting periods for next level inputs. The team could not take up new activities from other projects and hence other projects in pipeline were delayed. This usually led to cascading effects and delays were reported from manufacturing, transportation and procurement departments. The team was not getting enough opportunities to develop their skills outside their engineering activities. The engineers were restricted to the engineering activities they were doing.
In one instance, the supply chain team was looking for a solution to use the existing handling structures for new wind turbines with heavier weights. The engineering team was asked to check and certify the feasibility of its use from strength perspective. The project was to be delayed because of non-allocation of project team owing to their engagement in existing running projects. The team members could not be taken out of running projects and hence it was decided to outsource the engineering activity. This resulted in spending of valuable time and money for the organization.
Challenges faced by organization due to functional structure were sufficient to demand for a better and acceptable solution that will result in effective utilization of resources and efficient budget utilization. Once the merger was approved and new organization was in place, balanced matrix organization structure was formally introduced keeping in line the agenda for better organizational functioning. Initially the teams were reluctant to work in such a structure. But in order to continue with the existing prototype project, under serial production projects and benefits offered by new management to employees, the teams agreed to work in matrix structure with more than one boss. This was confusing and time consuming in the beginning with authorities still not clear at top levels and needed few more meetings to clarify the exact roles and communication plans.
Once the things started moving, the benefits of balanced structure were evident and visible. Engineering team leaders got visibility by supporting in project management. The regularly planned meetings with Project Manager, resource manager and technical leaders resulted in higher degree of interaction by engineers and they got more say in organizational decision making from engineering perspectives. More ideas started to flow and engineering designs got optimized, root causes identified clearly and ideas generated on the spot. This led to very quick solutions for some of critical issues, which may have taken long time in functional structure. Resource manager got the opportunity to identify the future leaders and accordingly these future leaders were promoted and nourished with more responsibilities. Efficient suppliers were selected and involved that provided value addition to company's engineering projects.
On the other hand some of the departments leaders resigned and left the organization to look for responsible positions elsewhere in industry as their positions were rendered redundant due to management changes. The matrix structure also demanded a more organized way of working.
This involved getting engineering requests from technical team, followed by resources demand, resources allocation requests, internal reallocation of engineering resources. During some urgent issues, if internal resources were not available, then looking for suppliers to fill in the gaps and this led to preparation of SoWs, asking for quotes, reviewing, negotiations, allocations etc. Such process again led to delay in project deliveries. However this situation was temporary as better ways were developed to deal with suppliers with pre-negotiated pricing.
Methodology and Responsibilities
The teams involved in engineering projects were operating from different geographical locations in Europe depending on their projects and the challenge was to manage them in such a way that the resource utilization stays efficient. Therefore to get the best out of matrix structure, the resource manager was required to travel between project locations to keep up to date with project managers and engineering leaders. Regular planned meetings were held and quarterly plans were prepared in consultation with key stakeholders.
Organizational benefits and drawbacks
The visible benefits were in terms of organized and timely execution of projects. Project teams were well defined and in case when resources utilization was not 100% in a project, they were shared among other projects. This was not limited to just engineering team members, but also applicable to team leaders as well. This led to organization saving money on projects
Though there were great organizational benefits, the other side cannot be neglected. In a way this was too much of a responsibility for the resource manager who was always overloaded with his activity which involved lot of travel because the resource manager was not just responsible for engineering team, but also for services and maintenance teams.
If the time consuming approval processes is managed efficiently and responsibilities are delegated with aim of speeding to and fro communication between resources manager and project manager, then balanced matrix will certainly lead to profitability of organisation. It is important to keep in mind that with efficient resource utilisation and improved team morale can do wonders to employee morale and organisations productivity.