The Copperleaf® Decision Analytics Solution is now live at Elia, Belgium’s high-voltage transmission system operator. Dimitri Coletti, Portfolio Analyst at Elia, and Zena Tulemat, Consultant at Copperleaf, share their thoughts on the implementation process and how Copperleaf’s solution will help Elia on its asset management journey.
Can you share a little bit about your roles?
Dimitri: "I am a member of Elia’s Portfolio Management Office (PMO) and the project lead on the Copperleaf implementation. A key part of my role involves managing procurement forecasts and IT-related implementations.
Our goal in the PMO is to create a realistic and optimal investment portfolio for the next 10 years which addresses necessary grid extensions as well as the replacement of existing assets. To do this, we need to gather, process, and analyse a lot of data and inputs from several departments within Elia."
Zena: "As part of Copperleaf's Customer Experience (CX) team, I worked closely with the Elia team from the start of the implementation until the go live. We collaborated in process mapping workshops to capture their current planning processes and translated their desired future state into a set of requirements that we were able to systematise as part of the implementation. We also provided training sessions to help users become familiar with the new system as quickly as possible."
What were your main goals for this project?
Dimitri: "Elia has big ambitions as well as challenges for its grid infrastructure projects. As a result, prioritising and planning investments has become increasingly complex. Many factors must be considered to end up with a feasible investment portfolio that is aligned with our strategic goals and objectives, and that uses our available resources in the most optimal way. For example, financing must be available, costs must be controlled, and replacements must be done in a timely manner to keep risk under control. There is also a limit to the number of people that can perform project management, engineering, commissioning, and other tasks—and the market must be able to supply the necessary materials and contractors. Our goal is to provide stability in our investment plans, respect our commitments to customers, and build in flexibility to deal with uncertainties.
With the energy transition accelerating, it is necessary to run more advanced scenario and sensitivity analyses that consider multiple constraints. This is no longer possible in Excel. For these advanced calculations, we needed a more sophisticated and powerful tool—that’s why Elia Group selected Copperleaf Portfolio™.
This year, Copperleaf Portfolio will be used for the first time in the arbitrage of Elia’s infrastructure portfolio, as well as to monitor and control its evolution afterwards."
With the energy transition accelerating, it is necessary to run more advanced scenario and sensitivity analyses that consider multiple constraints. This is no longer possible in Excel. For these advanced calculations, we needed a more sophisticated and powerful tool—that’s why Elia Group selected Copperleaf Portfolio.
Is there anything unique Elia is doing with the Copperleaf solution?
Dimitri: "The Copperleaf solution will identify the highest-value portfolio while respecting project dependencies and different constraints. It also integrates information from our various other IT tools, such as MS Projects, SAP, and Excel."
Zena: "Elia has a set of complex project dependencies that must be considered during their portfolio planning process. To address this need, Copperleaf developed new functionality that provides the ability to define complex time-dependency rules between different projects based on their milestones or specific spends. This ‘milestone dependency’ capability was so valuable that we decided to incorporate it into our standard product so that all Copperleaf clients can benefit from this innovation."
What were the key things you felt made the project successful?
Dimitri: "The project was very well structured. Copperleaf led a series of workshops to help us define and design the solution we required, followed by training sessions with ‘real’ test data that enabled us to become more familiar with the software. Copperleaf provided user manuals with systematic directions that were adapted to reflect our unique processes.
The training sessions were followed by a week of user acceptance testing: test cases were prepared up front and the scenario we needed to follow was well defined. After each day of testing, we had a wrap up session to reflect on the tests we performed and discuss the outcomes.
Then came the moment: after two weeks of successful training and testing we were able to GO LIVE!
From the start, it was clear that the Copperleaf team (James Burberry, Zena Tulemat, and Carsten Kessler) were always focused on customer satisfaction and the success of the project. They really went the extra mile to understand our processes and business needs.
It’s a shame we couldn’t celebrate this achievement with the whole team in person due to COVID restrictions, but nevertheless we completed the project as planned, despite the challenging times."
Zena: "We successfully implemented the Copperleaf solution at 50 Hertz, an Elia Group company, back in 2020. It was therefore much easier to understand Elia’s planning processes, and we were able to consider lessons learned from the previous project.
Elia’s core team—consisting of the PMO, project management office, and IT team—was so collaborative and easy to work with. Additionally, the implementation was supported by a team of Elia business analysts who played an instrumental role in making sure we captured all of Elia’s business needs."
Elia will have greater consistency within the planning process across the whole organisation. The Copperleaf solution will also enhance transparency across the portfolio planning lifecycle by ensuring that all investment decisions are based on a single source of truth.
What are the key benefits Elia will realise from implementing Copperleaf Portfolio?
Dimitri: "Breaking through the limits of our current tools and processes! The key benefits are:
- Portfolio optimisation: Being able to simultaneously run multi-constraint portfolio exercises and perform quick scenario and sensitivity analyses on the portfolio is a significant improvement. It will also help us improve the quality and transparency of our data which is now in one system.
- Continuous planning: Being able to follow up on the current portfolio of infrastructure projects by comparing the planned and actual performance of all projects."
Zena: "Elia will have greater consistency within the planning process across the whole organisation. The Copperleaf solution will also enhance transparency across the portfolio planning lifecycle by ensuring that all investment decisions are based on a single source of truth."
Due to COVID-19, we had to move to remote implementation. How did you find that process?
Dimitri: "The project continued as planned. We had weekly calls to discuss progress and to tackle any issues. The most critical component in my opinion was the workshops, which were well organised and collaborative. Additionally, Copperleaf was always available whenever we had questions or topics to discuss, throughout the entire project."
Zena: "Although we have never met in person, there was a sense of collegiality early in the project. There was a clear plan from the beginning, which meant that everyone knew what was expected, and our weekly meetings ensured that we remained aligned throughout the project.
I really hope we get to meet one day in person to celebrate our successful implementation together!"
What’s one word you would use to describe what it was like working with Copperleaf?
Dimitri: "Positive Collaboration"
Learn more about how Copperleaf clients have been able to improve their business outcomes in our client success stories.
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