10 tips for wind and solar farm planners

Expert describes ten aspects of project management that planners of wind and solar projects should pay more attention to in the future.

Wind farm planning is becoming increasingly complex. Between adjustments in legislation and approvals, some people lose track of the big picture. Project management expert reveals which trends are currently emerging.

1. Innovations in organizational technology

There are now numerous ways to optimize project flow in the organization without having to make structural changes. The increased digitization of workplaces in particular has recently clearly shown that decentralized team organization can strengthen the personal responsibility of teams. So-called pool organizations, for example, enable project teams to develop into self-learning units that can respond quickly and independently to current challenges. Team leadership is strictly oriented toward finding solutions by integrating subject matter experts into the actual project group. This creates a trusting, interdisciplinary and specialized environment in which even potential setbacks can be mitigated together. The company benefits here through the independent development of expert knowledge.


2. Quality assurance

Project planning is always oriented towards the product result in order to be able to sell economically successful products. Therefore, it is important to know the requirements of the market and thus also of the customers at an early stage and to transfer these into the project planning. Long planning periods make it difficult to maintain the original requirements. For this reason, many project managers go over to writing down the requirements at the start of the project and reviewing them on an ongoing basis as part of quality assurance, so that any changes to the requirements can be reacted to as quickly as possible. If both project and product assumptions are missing at the start of the project, quality assurance is hardly possible.

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3. Risk prevention

Occurring risks cost a lot of money and can be existentially threatening. To minimize risks, people rely on experience and/or mathematical risk analyses. In reality, however, the greatest risks are hidden in the lack of risk budgets. If, for example, cost assumptions deviate from the plan over the course of the project, then unexpected cost increases occur, which increase the pressure on profits. In the future, separate risk budgets will therefore play an increasingly important role in budget planning, in which known and recurring risk costs are taken into account in order to finance countermeasures.


4. Analyzing the international environment

The dependencies of international influences on projects continue to increase strongly and must be taken into account even more in the project cycle in the future. In addition to the classic raw material costs and logistics, this also includes know-how losses due to (international) employee changes. Inflation and (international) wage developments are also likely to play a more important role in this context. At the same time, climate change is becoming more of an economic focus, which will certainly increase the opportunities, but also the competitive situation for project work worldwide.


5. Stakeholder management

The participation of project stakeholders in the project’s success is being expanded through new business models. In the future, it will not only be a matter of profit sharing through, for example, citizens’ societies, but also of cost advantages, for example, through discounted products such as favorable electricity tariffs. In this way, the project participants complement and expand the company’s customer relationships.

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6. Systems Engineering

The standard defined in accordance with ISO/IEC/IEEE-15288 makes it possible to standardize and modularize project work across departments and teams. In this way, various project scenarios can be predefined like templates and, if necessary, adapted to the respective project peculiarities, as well as further economically optimized with the help of previous experience. In this way, all experiences can be reproduced project-specifically and the project duration can be massively reduced.


7. Interactive web-based scheduling

Scheduling, which is often unpopular, can now be done across sites and teams and is no longer dependent on the commitment of individuals. With the help of web-based scheduling software, transparency is increased for everyone, interaction with all participants is improved, and their experiences are taken into account. Scheduling thus becomes the subject of daily work planning and can be continuously optimized for all projects.


8. Specialization through know-how

Employees are often divided into generalists and subject matter experts. Specialization often takes place in the respective departments. This means that the need for coordination is very high; information is often non-transparent. For this reason, many project managers resort to reorganizing know-how in project planning by changing the system logic. The actual know-how lies in the mastery of complex systems, or rather their planning. Expert knowledge is formulated and acquired as a separate requirement. This gives project teams the task of organizing knowledge cost-effectively, even outside the company, and optimizing it for the project. This process knowledge is the actual know-how.


9. Optimization of resource planning  

The international and digital division of labor makes it possible to acquire project resources worldwide at low cost. What used to apply mostly only to products now increasingly applies to planning work as well. In this way, not only can costs be optimized and new experts recruited, but new markets can also be established through expanded collaborations themselves. This is because external partnerships expand the existing project and product portfolio, which in turn can be offered to the markets.

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10. Maintain fun and motivation

Success motivates! The actual project work should therefore be made visible to the participants and the customer and project management should be seen for what it is: a profitable extension in the company portfolio.

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