Speaking the same language

A couple of years ago ABB Finland’s Power Systems Substations decided to focus on their core competencies and outsource some of the non-core tasks to a partner. The choice fell on Citec, and the two companies started developing a cooperation model.

Jan Malmsten, ABB Finland.
Jan Malmsten, ABB Finland.

“We have worked our way to the right model by trial and error. If we felt that something was not working we simply changed it”, explains Jan Malmsten from ABB, who was in charge for the cooperation with Citec when it started.

The cooperation started by a person from Citec relocating to ABB’s office to become familiar with the organisation. Communication turned out to be a major initial stumbling block.

“We noticed that it is extremely important to use the same terminology in communication. If you do not use the same technical jargon misunderstandings happen easily. We also realised that thorough follow-up with the steering group is necessary to develop the cooperation.”

Another challenge that arose was that a contact person with expertise in one engineering discipline is not necessarily the most suitable person to delegate tasks within another discipline.

“After some time we realised that we needed one contact person for each discipline to make things run smoothly.”

Today Citec and ABB Power Systems Substations work according to a model where there are two contact persons at Citec and ABB respectively. One pair handles civil engineering tasks whilst the other manages electrical tasks. Everyone sits in their own offices, but meet face-to-face regularly, at least once a month.

“This has turned out to be the best model for us”, Malmsten says.

In his experience, communication, attitude and technology are the key areas that need to work to ensure that things are running smoothly. Another important factor for success is that the consultants feel that they are a part of the ABB project team.

“It is important to choose the right kind of contact person. It is easy to fall into the trap of choosing the technically most qualified person; in this job other qualities might be more important. Being a good team player is key to succeeding in the role.”

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