Corporate governance for high-tech firms


A public utility had been plagued by huge cost overruns and scheduling delays on major capital projects (between $1 million - $5 billion+). Implemented stronger corporate governance, developed a company-wide project management policy, procedure and standard, and unified reporting structure, so executives could better evaluate performance and manage risk. Rolled out and obtained buy-in of new organizational structure to better facilitate project governance.

The Challenge

One of the nation's largest and most progressive public utilities, with over 6 million customers, had lost a lot of internal knowledge around execution of large capital projects, due to organizational and regulatory changes. The organization no longer had standard methods for planning, estimating, tracking and reporting, so executive leadership had no clear view into large investments. Execs didn't know whether an initiative was going wrong until two months before the due date, when it was suddenly $50 million over budget and estimated to be delivered 18 months late. New processes and standards could not simply be rolled out, as many organizations were unionized, and the company couldn't assign how work product was performed. Given the complexity of the organization, and the high cost of overruns and delays, the company solicited Mastodon's assistance in designing and implementing governance standards for large capital initiatives.

Through best practice working sessions among division executives, developed and fostered effective collaboration between different parts of the organization. Organization achieved financial effectiveness and needed transparency through the controlled allocation of scarce resources to projects based on strategic priorities.

How We Helped

Mastodon Consulting helped the utility develop an approach that would address their needs. With a blend of governance knowledge, project and portfolio expertise and critical facilitation skills, Mastodon worked with the client to develop a powerful solution in less than three months.

Mastodon's services included:

  • Business process engineering
  • Change and communication management
  • Technology integration services
  • Facilitation of training and best practices sharing sessions among division executives

Lessons Learned

With the new framework and governance standard, the company is ensuring that every large capital project undertaken by employees is appropriately planned, scheduled, tracked and reported. Increased rigor and consistency has reduced budget variances and impact of over-budget projects. Greater transparency and centralized data sources support executive decision-making process. Communication is improved, and issues affecting project performance are raised at an early stage, when turnaround is still possible. Portfolio view provides a comprehensive view of all projects and facilitates making informed tradeoff. With appropriate controls in place, the company is now well positioned to achieve its goal of being the premier public utility in the United States through exceptional execution of capital projects.

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