As a network company, Alliander is responsible for the distribution of energy, for almost six million customers, consisting of over 35,000 kilometres of gas pipelines and an electricity grid that stretches over 86,000 kilometres. Over 7,000 people work at the Alliander Group, which mainly consists of Liander and Liandon among others. The group represents high-quality knowledge of energy networks, energy technology and technical innovations. Alliander is working with partners to further improve the sustainability of the energy supply for a better society.
For a large organisation like Alliander, delivering an on-time, and within the budget, IT project is a continuous challenge. Every project is a new venture, and the people in IT often proceed too quickly with implementation, making whatever they produced falling short and not meeting the needs of the business.
When their Manager of Service & Staven Generiek’ Anja Raijmakers, learned about the Design Thinking Center through our SAP Account Manager, she immediately saw the potential of using it as a way to analyse the request of the customer better and look for possible solutions. Especially the shared responsibility, seeing issues as a joint problem, was important to Anja.
One of the areas where Design Thinking has been implemented at Alliander is the App Factory. This is a team of developers creating apps for internal employees, from technicians to inspectors, and quality controllers to administrators. These apps are especially relevant for those in the field service, which consists of 1,500 people.
From the Design Thinking Center, they’ve developed an app for a group of exporters who needed various administrative systems on location. This case closely relates to their program of Product and Process Simplification, in which they strive for operational excellence. Also, they’ve set up a backlog to help them produce applications in sprints. Design thinking gave them the tools to keep the work manageable and comprehensive. It gives them the opportunity to see the complete picture on one hand, and on the other split up the work into small parts.
To this point, ninety people that are in the start-up phase of IT projects, have been trained in the Design Thinking Center. Employees can sign up for new courses every quarter.
“You know who you’re producing it for, and you have sympathy for what the user really needs. And, quite importantly, it’s much more fun working together than it used to be!”, says Anja. She advises other organisations to just do it. It doesn’t matter if you work scrum or project-based, or if the project is big or small because it’s about the start-up phase which is essential for the success of the project.