Turning data into action with project management tools

FirstEnergy’s project pipeline is essential to continue serving its 6 million customers reliably. In need of an integrated suite of project management tools — tailored and automated across the utility — FirstEnergy sought assistance for implementation, while striving toward efficient internal processes and project completions.



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As one of the nation’s largest investor-owned utilities and serving 6 million customers, FirstEnergy manages rigorous and detailed project portfolio pipelines for its transmission and distribution businesses. FirstEnergy has partnered with Burns & McDonnell for more than 20 years. Since 2012, our team has leveraged Oracle’s Contract Management software to manage the utility’s processes. However, the introduction of Oracle’s new suite of tools — Oracle Primavera Portfolio Management (OPPM) and Primavera Unifier — encouraged FirstEnergy to seek an upgrade.

To harness productivity and flexibility from these new tools, FirstEnergy sought an integrated solution to manage its transmission project life cycles. After purchasing OPPM for portfolio management and Primavera Unifier for project management, FirstEnergy turned to 1898 & Co., a part of Burns & McDonnell, to assist with the transition plan to optimize and leverage the efficiencies of internal processes within the tools and integrate each system into the utility’s enterprise.


Backed by our extensive knowledge of the utility industry, as well as our deep understanding of FirstEnergy’s business processes, we began the integration plan by focusing on tailoring the capabilities of the technology with FirstEnergy’s unique processes. This started with clean data.

We worked cohesively with FirstEnergy to assist in the mining, standardizing and organizing of hundreds of thousands of key project data attributes. Once in a consistent, uniform format, this clean data drives the customization of each system to fit FirstEnergy’s needs.

When ready, the data is integrated into Primavera Unifier and OPPM to build business processes for individual project life cycles. The tool has custom workflow functionality, where each step can be mapped out and digitized to automatically notify team members of required actions and track necessary resources, budgets and staffing — from concept to completion.

OPPM was built out in tandem and integrated with the Primavera Unifier implementation. While Primavera Unifier assists project managers at FirstEnergy during the execution of a project, the purpose of OPPM is to arm decision-makers and stakeholders with the big picture viewpoint to help prioritize projects and build capital investment plans. The integration plan for OPPM includes standardizing estimates — time frames, risks, resource requirements — used for specific projects across the utility. This will result in a scoring model to attach unbiased value to each project, informing project prioritization.

Delivering an enterprise expansion

During the implementation process for its transmission business, FirstEnergy recognized the immense value this technology transformation could provide elsewhere. Therefore, in 2019, our team began this entire process — from data cleanup to integration and implementation — for the utility’s distribution sector.

Leveraging the same approach used for transmission, we also set out to standardize differences that exist between how these two businesses within FirstEnergy function, creating consistent metrics and reporting across the entire organization. This will allow stakeholders enterprisewide to make succinct decisions with cohesive and complete data that will continue to drive the utility’s business and project pipeline forward.

The team is also focused on continuing the integration of OPPM and Primavera Unifier with the utility’s seven existing web applications through a seamless, single sign-on connection. The connection will automatically sync current information in the enterprise systems, tracking asset health, employee status, budgets and more that can also be associated with individual projects.

During this implementation, we are also working with FirstEnergy to create and disseminate educational guides and administer interactive training sessions across the organization. By incorporating avenues for end users to both understand the value of the technology change and submit requests for enhancements, we have been able to help FirstEnergy navigate this cultural shift in a positive way.

In its first week of operation on the transmission side, OPPM received 3,233 actions generated by users as well as 11 new project requests. When complete, the integrated enterprise technology suite will allow anyone in the company, from the CEO to a project manager, to locate and follow active and future transmission and distribution projects with a consistent flow of actionable information from user-friendly dashboards. This real-time data — accessible anytime and anywhere — will significantly reduce the manual work required by the legacy system while creating a solid foundation for FirstEnergy to continue serving its customers reliably.


Ben Greek

Department Manager

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