Closed Circuit

The Upper Great Plains Energy Management and Marketing Office team has completed the first phase of an in-depth job task analysis project. The team has identified and created job aids and on-the-job training guides for more than 100 tasks. This project has taken six months to complete.

“This project was a first of its kind to my knowledge within WAPA,” said Supervisory Energy Management and Marketing Specialist Neil Lindgren. “This effort ensures consistency of performance within our group, while ensuring the next generation of employees has a higher level of understanding in a shorter timeframe, allowing them to learn from our experience and knowledge from a boarder spectrum of documentation.”

In line with Strategic Roadmap 2024’s critical pathway of Business, Technology and Organizational Excellence, the UGP EMMO workgroup has taken innovative steps to modernize knowledge sharing. 

The EMMO group established a standard format for documenting the group’s collective knowledge. Through a six-month process, the group is now using an electronic database to document and share job knowledge. 

“The JTA project utilized an off-the-shelf electronic database to organize the Upper Great Plains EMMO tasks into an easy-to-use format,” said Energy Management and Marketing Specialist Brent Garvey. “This software and effort will facilitate a better training process for new hires while documenting key areas of knowledge from our merchant staff.”

The training software package is geared for the electric utility industry. The software is currently being used for storing on-the-job training—or OJT—guides for knowledge-sharing and knowledge-retention efforts. 

The OJT guides create a knowledge base that is available 24/7 and will increase productivity and reduce uncertainties when performing tasks. The job aids and OJT guides provide a structured approach for new-hire onboarding. Having all OJT guides in one easily navigable location accelerates employee training efforts and assists in covering for employees on leave.

“To support employees in an ever-changing work environment, it is imperative that all tasks are identified and mapped out,” said Public Utilities Specialist Judy Shimek. “As energy markets change, job processes can be wisely planned and communicated in advance. This fosters a ready and resilient team environment where employees have increased confidence and job satisfaction.”

For future efforts, the software package is designed for expansion beyond the OJT guides to develop employee training programs, succession planning and performance evaluations. 

“The job task analysis project has been a teamwide effort to document key processes and work practices in our area to ensure knowledge retention for a dynamic work group,” said Garvey.

Many of the documented tasks had only one EMMO employee with the knowledge to complete them. These tasks can now be completed by others using the step-by-step job aids, which will be especially helpful in the case of emergency.

This project recognizes the vast skill sets the EMMO team has built over time and through extensive training and work experiences. Team members are valued for their diverse job knowledge and willingness to learn new skills.  

The OJT guides produced by the application database are filed to the EMMO SharePoint team site. These files can be searched and accessed WAPA-wide. Now, when the EMMO team receives inquiries about processes, the OJT guides are readily available and easily forwarded. 

“This project is applicable WAPAwide for business areas,” explained Shimek. “WAPA could use this project to demonstrate the value and importance of knowledge retention.”

The OJT guides also provide the standards for communications and have been helpful in instances of communication breakdown.

“This effort has been an ‘all-handson-deck’ project,” Shimek said. “This process had broadened communication paths and found agreement on performance standards for each task. Each EMMO team member has made significant contributions to the knowledge database. Through the extensive review process, even seasoned marketers have adopted and learned new ways of completing tasks.”

“This highlights the group’s ability to try new things, trusting that the work of documentation of their work practices and knowledge, as well as building the job aids, would benefit the next generation of EMMO staff,” said Lindgren. “It ensures we’re not only able to provide excellent customer service today, but also into the future.”

“I believe the UGP EMMO job task analysis effort will be one that can be duplicated across WAPA, serving as an example of how to effectively facilitate knowledge retention in all areas of the business,” concluded Garvey.

Brent Garvey sitting by a bank of monitors
Judy Shimek smiling at her standing desk

Energy Management and Marketing Specialist Brent Garvey and Public Utilities Specialist Judy Shimek were two of the Energy Marketing and Management Office employees who created job aids and on-the-job training guides to enhance information sharing and knowledge retention.

Last modified on March 6th, 2024