To support the energy transition, the Netherlands must expand its electricity grid to connect solar panels and wind farms, charge cars and heat its citizens’ homes. In realising this, network operators are facing a challenge: the shortage of (technical) manpower. As a result of the ageing population and an increase in workload, there is an increasing lack of technical workforce which puts the energy transition in danger.
A large Dutch network operator was experiencing this shortage of technical employees. Based on Valcon’s vast experience with solving such problems as well as our effective, integral approach, the network operator came to us to ask for help.
This resulted in a project with two goals:
- Solve the biggest short-term bottlenecks to increase capacity
- Work towards a stable situation in the medium-long-term
To get a closer look at the current situation, Valcon thoroughly analysed the underlying problem together with the client. The analysis exposed the following issues:
- The client lacked insight into the impact of the increasing work package and what this meant for the capacity
- For the past years, the client had made an effort to increase work efficiency. However, the operation still experienced bottlenecks and lacked cross-regional knowledge sharing of best practices
- To increase capacity, the client decided to outsource a part of the work to partners, but this did not go smoothly. Thus, there was a lack of trust and goodwill to strengthen collaboration
- As a result of the strong increase in the workload and changing environment, the client lacked a vision of where to grow as an organisation
To solve the biggest issues and work toward a stable environment, Valcon chose an integral approach consisting of four components:
1. Creating insights
Goal: enable operational steering on the workload and capacity due to improved insights.
To identify work-related bottlenecks in time, a task force was set up with the ability to steer the workload and employment capacity. Aside from that, Valcon performed a data analysis to create insights into the required capacity of technical employees for the coming years based on the increased workload and expected outflow of employees.
2. Working efficiently
Goal: increase the output of existing capacity by increasing efficiency.
By doing a bottleneck analysis in cooperation with the business itself, relevant bottlenecks in the process were identified. Valcon also facilitated knowledge sharing across the regions to improve collaboration and to share best practices.
3. Outsourcing work
Goal: increase capacity by outsourcing a part of the work to partners.
To obtain a reliable complementary capacity with partners and create a trustful relationship, the project initially focused on ensuring that the basics were in place. This was done by creating clear agreements, accelerating the training of external employees and setting up steering and (quality) controls regarding the outsourced work. Furthermore, an acceleration in outsourcing was achieved by enabling an additional part of the workload to be outsourced as well.
4. Creating a new vision
Goal: create a clear direction for growth by facilitating a new vision for the coming years.
Together with the client, Valcon created a new vision for the coming years. The goal of that vision was to provide clarity regarding the required growth for the organisation and to ensure that the taken actions were aligned accordingly. In addition, to safeguard commitment and a solid base of support, a vision was created in close cooperation with both the employees and management of the network operator.
The integral approach and close collaboration with the client resulted in the following:
- Because the task force actively steered the capacity and workload, most projects could be realised
- Insights for the needed capacity were obtained, which enabled on-time hiring and training of new employees and provided a solid base for other initiatives to increase capacity
- Operational bottlenecks were identified, and the first bottlenecks were solved together with the business
- The basics are in place which enables the organisation to outsource a part of its work to partners in a structured and more reliable manner
- As part of the vision, a growth path was established which enabled a pilot project aiming to outsource an additional part of the workload. Currently, the first experiences of the pilot are being analysed
- Guidance was provided by the creation of a new vision which was translated into concrete goals for the coming period
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