Insights

We deliver real-world solutions today to build a sustainable energy future.

We deliver real-world energy solutions today to build a sustainable tomorrow. - See more at: http://www.blueoakenergy.com/blog/#sthash.XOerM0Fn.dpuf

We deliver real-world energy solutions today to build a sustainable tomorrow. - See more at: http://www.blueoakenergy.com/blog/#sthash.XOerM0Fn.dpuf
We deliver real-world energy solutions today to build a sustainable tomorrow. - See more at: http://www.blueoakenergy.com/blog/#sthash.XOerM0Fn.dpuf
We deliver real-world energy solutions today to build a sustainable tomorrow. - See more at: http://www.blueoakenergy.com/blog/#sthash.XOerM0Fn.dpuf

Solar Project Lifecycle

June 22, 2015

Over the years, I have held several positions at Blue Oak Energy as engineer, project manager, an engineering manager now a sales manager. I have also seen our company grow from a team of four to a team of over fifty. As a small start-up everyone was involved in every aspect, and throughout the lifecycle of a project. As we grew, there was a concerted effort for process control and process improvement. And this involved bringing in role players and as a result the creation of departments – management, accounting, sales, project management, engineering management, electrical engineering, civil engineering, design, and operations. Now, the solar projects are larger than ever, moving faster than ever, and the project lifecycle spans many departments and many different people. Each individual has a key role and relies on the teamwork from others.

We’ve learned over the past decade that it’s not about process flow diagrams or endless check lists to ensure quality execution, though these processes need to be in place. We found it is cultural alignment that drives the greatest results in quality control. This alignment begins with a fundamental understanding and appreciation for the entire value chain and the role for each participant within the value chain. For a professional service company that engineers and constructs solar plants, this requires each department to understand and appreciate the multidisciplinary contributions from others. Sales must understand how contract scope and schedule impacts engineering and construction. Construction must understand the accounting team's requirements for invoicing. Engineering must understand the needs from Construction for continuous support.

So, how do you make this seamless project execution happen? Well, the graphic above provides a map for our view of the process. There is, of course, no training plan that can force alignment and overlap to work together seamlessly. Nor is there any guarantee that just because you have a map that its going to steer you perfectly to your destination. As cliché as it may sound, quality control begins with the company culture; management and everyone in the organization to foster collaboration, support and dialog. As team members learn from each other and learn to rely on each other this ultimate cultural alignment will happen. Placing the project's successful outcome over individual needs or ego is the ultimate definition for quality. Call it our solar passion. The overlap in the illustration is the key feature; one can easily see that no single person can accomplish the large-scale solar projects we deliver. The big pay-off comes when you can build great, focused teams working on hundreds of solar projects across the globe and deliver gigawatts of new solar capacity every year. The seamless transitions are achievable on a grand scale with strong cultural alignment. This is who we are and what we're becoming.

Danny Lee, PhD

Vice President of Business Development

The illustration is adapted from the Project Management Institute (PMI)

Back to blog