This December, I had the opportunity to travel south right around the time when things in Ottawa are starting to get a little cold. It was great to be able to ditch the jacket and break out the shorts. But when I arrived, I saw something that my Canadian brain just couldn’t comprehend. A palm tree with Christmas Lights on it! But I guess that in a place where the sun shines bright and warm for 12 months of the year, there are a few things that are a little different than what I’m used to; Christmas Lights on Palm Trees, a lot of sand, and a successful solar energy company. Despite how happy I was to be in a warm climate in December, the real purpose of my trip was to participate in a proof of concept demonstration of RapidResponse Integrated Project Management with First Solar, a leading solar energy company. The last time I was in this part of the United States was for Kinexions12. In a blog post that I wrote about the conference, I focused on one of the underlying themes – Innovation! This time around, I got to experience innovation in action. It’s refreshing to see a successful company look at their current processes and tools, and actively work to improve and expand their capabilities. They have clearly been successful to date, but I have realized what I learned at Kinexions12… Innovate or Die. In this case, the innovation comes in the form of their plans to expand their RapidResponse deployment by leveraging the new Integrated Project Management functionality.
There are some key capabilities that First Solar is looking to leverage in order to help them manage their solar farm construction projects with integrated project management.
- Full Project Management Capabilities – In order to capitalize on the key value-added functionality of IPM, it must support the standard project management capabilities including forwards and backwards scheduling, resource management, constraint planning etc. RapidResponse IPM provides this full set of project management capabilities.
- Linkage to the Supply Chain – One of the key reasons that companies like First Solar are looking to move to IPM is the linkage to their supply chain. IPM will allow them to automatically understand the impact of supply chain delays on their project and understand the impact of project delays on their supply chain. Leveraging this capability will allow for more efficient management of projects, the supply chain, cash flow, resource assignments etc…
- What-If Scenario comparison – The ability to model potential solutions to problems in a sandbox environment at the click of a button has proven over and over again to be key to the success of RapidResponse. Taking this capability and applying it to IPM will allow First Solar to make better and quicker decisions thus improving their overall efficiency.
- Speed and Performance – IPM leverages the speed and performance of the always on analytics within RapidResponse and will provide First Solar with the ability to not only make informed decisions but quick decisions.
The purpose of the Proof of Concept demonstration was really to show that RapidResponse IPM could meet First Solar’s needs for project management capabilities and it proved to be successful. However it was the open and honest discussions involving members from various parts of the First Solar organization that really impressed me. There was a clear desire to confront process and tool issues head on and try to find better ways of doing things. It quickly became clear to me that First Solar is intent on continuing their leadership in a leading edge industry. I may have a hard time understanding Christmas lights on Palm Trees, but I definitely understand and appreciate the innovation that First Solar are bringing to their Project Management processes.