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The CIO Forum: IT Weathers the Storm

In the rough-and-tumble energy biz, IT departments are paddling hard to stay afloat.
Fortnightly Magazine - November 1 2002

initiative, as our market grows out to Allegheny. The IS group played a key role in managing the infrastructure and the application development that needed to occur to make that successful. We are also in the process of planning for the next wave of market growth. The PJM West experience was sort of our test case to understand what the impact would be, and from an IS perspective it touched really all aspects of innovation. Infrastructure, planning, application development, security-it touched every area. So we're using that experience as the basis for the larger market growth that's ahead of us.

If you could look back on the PJM West outgrowth, what was the biggest lesson you learned from that experience?

One of the things, when I came on board, was that we had had a team in the IS group that had been identified as the "PJM West team." While it involved a lot of the staff, one of the things that I was concerned with was that I had three or four senior staff members who were on this team, and they were [all] functioning as the point of contact and liaison back to the business area, and doing the planning, etc. ...

I wanted one person who was accountable. So I looked at the team and made a decision that I would pick one of the senior project managers to take on that role. . . [T]hat turned out to be a critical decision, getting a single person designated. That person did extremely well. [That person] became the focal point and the coordination and that bridge between the business area and the IS group. . .

[I]n the middle of that, we were faced with the September 11 tragedy. That indirectly affected us, in that we had hardware on order. What ended up happening was that vendors were looking to respond to the urgent requests coming out of New York. They wanted to reprioritize requests to the New York companies that were trying to get back on their feet after September 11. So we worked with those vendors to look at our schedule. We ended up making some changes and modifications . . . It did cause a couple late nights, and people coming in on weekends, but I think it was worthwhile in supporting that objective.

How are you handling the PJM market growth, and how are relationships with SPP and MISO impacting your IT group?

With respect to the Midwest ISO (MISO) and Southwest Power Pool (SPP), we established that letter of intent in January, establishing the joint common market. Since that time, we've had regular meetings with the larger group, to talk about what is a joint common market, what is the business benefit, [and] when we talk about the infrastructure, what would be the decisions. A major component of this initiative is the one-stop shopping for the members who would be using this environment. So we identified the enhanced market portal, which would be that singular entrée into the market, whether they were going to the