Overcoming operational challenges with a Geographic Information System
A producer and supplier of gas and electricity serving more than two million business and residential customers.
Communications Advisory & Consultancy
Our client was challenged by the management of their infrastructure drawings through a Geographic Information System (GIS). This GIS system, that includes the switchboard diagrams, plays a pivotal role in their operations, particularly in network maintenance and rapid issue resolution. However, a significant trial confronted the client: keeping this essential system up-to-date and user-friendly in an ever-evolving technological environment.
No Gaps was brought in to drive the change communications strategy for the “Completing GIS Gegevens” (CGG) project, translating to “Completing GIS Data.” This transformative project not only sought to modernize GIS data but also aimed to optimize its usability, while simultaneously addressing critical operational gaps.
The project’s two main objectives were: digitizing GIS data while also clarifying how the network components could be digitally linked. The second objective was to update missing data and eliminate backlogs. In addition the conversion of the legacy GIS systems required revisions.
The CGG project presented a unique set of challenges, demanding creative solutions:
Transforming work methods
- The project asked for a paradigm shift in work methods, compelling GIS data users to embrace an entirely new system. This transformation significantly impacted a diverse range of users, encompassing network administrators, designers, IT system administrators, and field technicians.
- Field technicians faced a substantial shift as they transitioned from traditional paper drawings to tablet-based workflows
- Diverse user groups brought with them varying levels of resistance to change. The transition to a new system was met with understandable skepticism, primarily due to operational delays and the tangible consequences of incomplete data.
Remote work challenges
- Many on-the-ground users were frequently on the move, operating without conventional office-based roles. This unique scenario posed communication challenges, necessitating alternative methods to bridge the gap
No Gaps conducted a stakeholder and impact assessment and business readiness assessment. Based on our findings, we developed a communications plan that included the following:
Change Champions teams
We initiated “MAC teams” ((Medewerkers)Employees as Communicators). This team, comprising representatives from every communication target group, was designed to bridge the gap between project management and the organization. With 10 members per team, including a GIS project specialist, these teams became ambassadors for their own departments, change agents, and a vital communication link. They held monthly face-to-face briefings with project managers, fostering two-way communication, and ensuring that organizational voices were heard. The MAC teams, led by our GIS communication advisor, processed the received information and provided invaluable feedback tailored to their respective departments. This investment of just four hours per month in MAC team meetings and two hours per month in briefing sessions with project management was instrumental in aligning leadership and employees.
Equiping frontline management for dialogue
To empower team leaders with the tools to communicate complex changes effectively, we introduced the “MAC toolbox.” This toolbox served as a GIS meeting in a box, providing briefing materials from the MAC team alongside tips and guidelines on engaging employees in discussions about the project’s impact on their teams. Recognizing that team leaders may not possess the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate such changes, the toolbox offered tangible support tools. It also included measurement tools, enabling managers to gauge the effectiveness of their communication efforts within their teams. By merging project information with practical guidance in a single toolbox, we increased the likelihood that team leaders would embrace these tools when communicating project information.
Make the message stick
We introduced various channels to inform and facilitate dialogue, including an Infra Projects newsletter. This monthly newsletter was curated by the MAC teams in collaboration with communication advisors, ensuring its relevance and readability. It served as a platform for sharing project backgrounds, conducting interviews, and making announcements about the GIS project and related developments. Additionally, we organized workshops designed to foster cross departmental collaboration, understand current and future contexts, crystallize change directions and choices, and encourage reflection and contemplation. These sessions allowed participants to interact, explore resistance, and gain insights into broader perspectives. Lastly, we leveraged the power of video with a “Videojournaal” (Broadcast News production), showcasing processes, individuals, and organizational dynamics. This medium made the message stick and resonate deeply with employees, helping to humanize the organization, project, and strengthen its voice.
Complementing our efforts, we initiated Thematic Lunches as a casual platform for employees to engage in discussions on specific topics. Unlike formal presentations, these informal lunches encouraged dialogue and participation. Employees were more inclined to attend, contributing to an atmosphere where they could freely share their thoughts and ideas. This approach fostered a sense of inclusivity and encouraged candid conversations, creating an invaluable space for addressing concerns and embracing change.
No Gaps successfully navigated the challenges of the CGG project, promoting open dialogue, collaboration, and ownership among the diverse user groups. Together, we turned resistance into an opportunity for growth and transformation.