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28 May 2021

Q&A: RWE Supply & Trading on becoming a data-driven organisation

Our client, Jennie Jackson, the Programme Lead for RWE Supply & Trading’s Lead in Data project, recently presented on our Digital Change in Trading webinar.

She talked with us about the motivations behind the project, why they partnered with Baringa to implement it, and the long-term value it has brought to RWE.

BP: Jennie, thanks so much for your willingness to share with us your Lead in Data journey for RWE. What prompted this whole idea?

JJ: As a company, we believe that data and people are our greatest assets. They’re fundamental to us retaining our competitive edge. Our aim was to become a truly innovative, data-driven organisation, and we recognised that investment was needed to achieve this goal.

To start the process, we held several kick-off workshops with our users. The key pain points that came out of those workshops were around finding data, accessing data, sharing data and trusting data. It was based on these pain points that we created our vision for the technical platform.

This led to the creation of our Lead in Data project – a platform which enables users to manipulate and access trusted data faster and more efficiently, in a single place.

BP: So, Lead in Data is a technical platform?

JJ: Yes. But it doesn't stop there.  It's also about creating a data driven culture and a new way of working with data. We needed to create a new operating model and a new organisational set-up with training pathways to be able to up-skill our people. Changing the organisational mindset around data, and hiring the right talent, was essential to ensure the platform will be successful in the long term.

BP: This sounds like a fascinating project. Can you talk us through your journey?

JJ: We all know that delivering on a project is not the hardest part. The challenge is the journey and how we get there. We started by setting the direction. For us, it was important for the project to be business driven.

We also needed to create a new way of working with data, requiring a change of mindset and culture within the organisation. For this, you need to have senior management support, but you also need the cultural change to be led from the heart of the business to gain momentum.

Once we created our vision, we communicated this repeatedly. We wanted our organisation to understand not only what we are doing, but how this new way of working will ultimately bring value to our organisation. To achieve this, we created a data strategy which showed how Lead in Data could support our commercial strategy and how we were going to do this.

BP: How did you set about finding the right partners?

JJ: As we were implementing a new capability, we recognised from the start that we needed external expertise to support us on that journey.

We didn't want to find a company where we could just come in and execute tasks, because if I'm completely honest, we weren’t clear on our role at the beginning of the project. We needed to find somebody with a collaborative mindset who could take us on that journey. This is why we started working with Baringa Partners.

BP: I imagine getting the right team on board was important?

JJ: Absolutely. We were building an entirely new capability in-house. So we hired new talent with the right technical skills to really support and help build the platform. This in itself was a challenge, as these skills are in very high demand in a fast-moving market.

BP: How did you ensure that users stayed engaged with the platform?

JJ: Strong business engagement with the platform was essential. For the platform to be a success, we needed the users to be heavily involved from the start. This meant involving users in the vendor evaluation phase, playing a key role in the evaluation of tools.

As we moved into implementation, users helped us to define and break down any obstacles, agree what issues we needed to solve and what actions we were going to take. We’ve always said user feedback will be critical to our success.

BP: What challenges did you face in implementation, and how did you overcome these?

JJ: Part of the challenge we faced was the acceptance of agile. Users often want to know exactly how they’re going to solve the problem, and by when. We had to help users understand that they were not going to be able to solve all the problems at once – they needed to work on them incrementally.

We didn’t want a team where we had to tell them what the problem was and how to solve it. We wanted to empower employees so that they were responsible for building the platform. This enabled a faster roll out of the platform, as we were able to work on multiple tasks in parallel.

BP: It sounds as though it’s been a busy 10 months for you. How would you sum up the key factors that ultimately made the Lead in Data project a success?

JJ: A clear direction and support at board level was essential. We’re lucky as our Chief Commercial Officer has a clear vision for how he wants his trading organisation to work. We’re also fortunate to have support from our board, with the project strongly aligned with our commercial strategy. This is key, because if we didn’t have their support, we wouldn’t have been able to drive this change throughout our organisation.

Next, it was about failing fast and not being afraid to make mistakes - a mentality that was supported by our project sponsor. As an organisation, we need to accept that we’re not going to get our trading strategies right all the time, but we can fail fast and learn from our mistakes.

And we built a multidisciplinary team who fully support the platform. Our data engineers worked directly with the users, creating an instant feedback loop between the people developing the platform and those we were building the platform for.

I think, ultimately, our success came from empowering the team and removing any obstacles standing in their way. This enabled them to focus solely on delivering value to the business.

BP: It’s been a pleasure speaking with you Jennie. Your journey to implement Lead in Data is a fascinating story, and I think the team has done a phenomenal job in making the transition while delivering real value to your business.

You can listen to Jennie and our other contributors on the webinar below: