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Plug into the Network | Sunflower Electric Power Corporation’s ESM success story

Published On: January 02, 2018

If you want to be best in class, creating and managing dashboards is a critical skill for setting and monitoring your cooperative’s strategic goals. And using Touchstone Energy’s ESM dashboard is an effective tool to do just that.

Sunflower Electric Power Corporation has been using ESM to successfully manage their strategy since 2016.

“We can focus on strategic decisions and don’t get bogged down by the process,” said  Manager, Strategic Projects Cory Betz.

Located in Kansas, Sunflower has provided reliable wholesale power through its generation and transmission facilities to its Member distribution cooperatives since 1957. By 2020, Sunflower aims to further the success of its Members and those they serve by achieving rates in the lowest quartile of G&Ts while maintaining an appropriate risk profile.

Sunflower started working with ESM in 2016 after nearly two years of strategic planning. Cory Betz, Manager of Strategic Projects at Sunflower, explained that prior to ESM, teams across the organization would report updates manually. The manual edits consumed time because the teams did not have simultaneous access to the necessary PowerPoint or Excel documents. This laborious process resulted teams making updates right up until the Strategy Review Meeting (SRM). The Strategic Projects team quickly realized staff needed an “easier way” to report updates if Sunflower were to become truly effective in its strategy execution. With ESM, Sunflower quickly realized savings in time and effort. Perhaps most importantly, ESM has become a significant tool for reporting the status of objectives and initiatives during Sunflower’s quarterly SRMs.

At the onset of the Sunflower’s search for a strategy management tool, Betz explained the importance of selecting a system that did not have a steep learning curve. “We knew that selecting a tool folks could easily use was critical to gaining buy-in.” ESM’s intuitive user interface combined with the train-the-trainer approach enabled the group to start reporting in just a few weeks. “The ESM team gave us the knowledge and confidence to go forward and support our colleagues,” Betz said. “Working with our account manager has been great. The ESM team is responsive, helpful, and insightful as we continue to mature in our use of the tool.”

The ability to begin immediately helped Sunflower experience quick wins. “ESM facilitated change management because it was so easy to use,” Betz shared. Objective and initiative owners became responsible for capturing reporting data and were encouraged to work with their teams to provide quarterly updates. Finally, there was one version of the information and no more back and forth between PowerPoint or Excel documents. “Before, there was always something missing,” Betz explained, “but with ESM we could finally see the full picture and talk the same language.”

ESM has become a forum for cross-functional collaboration. Sunflower teams can easily see the cause and effect relationships between their work and the impact it has on business outcomes. The new-found transparency has inspired a greater commitment to working together to close gaps. Likewise, employees from all areas of Sunflower have easy access to strategic updates through the company’s SharePoint site which provides single-sign on access to the balanced scorecard. Sunflower’s President and CEO, Stuart Lowry, delivers the strategic update following each SRM.

ESM’s feature set has enabled Sunflower to mature in its strategy execution process. “ESM allowed us to move from a reactive organization to a proactive organization,” Betz said. “We are finally able to focus on making strategic decisions, rather than the process of gathering information.”

Want to learn more about how you can implement ESM at your co-op?  You can start by reviewing this recording of our Dec. 13, ESM Dashboard coaching session. Then visit cooperative.com/SES.


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