The ECC streamlines its structure

In March 2010, the ECC approved its new multiannual strategic plan. Like every successful organisation, in order to achieve its strategic goals and serve its member countries, the industry and European society in the most effective and efficient way possible, the ECC reviewed its structures and processes to make sure that its large commitment is fit for purpose.

To review its structure and some associated aspects of its working practice, the ECC set up a task group (TG5). TG5 was chaired by Philippe Horisberger of Switzerland (Ofcom) and its most pressing objectives were to improve the quality of the ECC's outputs and the efficiency of its structure through more seamless workflows. The review took into account the numerous meetings of the ECC's various working groups and large and small project teams, to deal with its on-going business. This is a very large effort which reflects the breadth and complexity of the subjects the ECC deals with, the impact of its deliverables, and its commitment to applying its expertise to get the best answers supported by a consensus of its 48 member administrations. As the work of the ECC is mainly based on contributions from its member administrations, particular attention was paid to reducing public sector expenditure in the light of the on-going financial climate.

With regard to its structure, the ECC concluded that applying the model of concentrating all activities for applications across the board would leave the directing working groups with too much business to handle. If concentrated in one group, or if spread across two or more groups, there would be some artificial distinction between them; and there could be an unhelpful pressure to compete for the most high-profile subjects.

Therefore, the ECC maintained the distinct roles of its Frequency Management Working Group (WG FM) and Spectrum Engineering Working Group (WG SE). Firstly, this allows, particularly between their associated project teams, the sequential treatment of interdependent issues in an orderly manner, giving (just) enough time for the necessary research and analysis between meetings. Secondly, the existing structures allow experts to attend only meetings that are relevant to them, and to minimise time wasted on less relevant parts of a longer meeting agenda. Joint planning of work by groups covering different aspects of the same subject, or group of subjects enables logistics to be optimised, notably with some co-location of meetings, or else deliberately planned for an optimum time spacing between them.

The ECC recognised that the Regulatory Affairs Working Group (WG RA) had tackled some strategically important work in recent years. Much of this was project oriented, and the present cycle of these projects was largely completed. Another part of its work was more concerned with the internal management of the ECC which no longer needed the full attention of a dedicated working group, WG RA having successfully instigated a number of reforms in recent years. Therefore, the ECC decided to discontinue WG RA and redistribute its functions. Internal management functions are now the responsibility of the ECC and its Steering Group with the support of the European Communications Office (ECO) as before, and regulatory work has been integrated into WG FM, which will also allow for the speedier development of deliverables.           

Some groups are evidently self-contained, notably the Numbering and Naming Working Group (WG NaN), which had only recently been itself reviewed and restructured, and the Conference Preparatory Group (CPG) and, as a result, remain unchanged.

Additionally, the ECC decided that Project Team 1 (PT1) was demonstrably of a manageable size. For the time being the high profile and high volume of work relating to mobile, and especially with the pressure for mobile broadband services, justifies its continuation as a project team. PT1 will continue to report directly to the ECC plenary and collaborate with other ECC entities as necessary.           

We believe that streamlining our structure in this way puts us in good shape for the period ahead.

Of at least as great in importance as structure, is the strongly increasing trend towards the use of electronic working methods and tools. Alexander Gulyaev's article in this newsletter gives more background to the range of tools now being developed for and used by the ECC where appropriate. Amongst other possibilities, the ECC decided that some work could be taken forward by groups which would hold predominantly electronic rather than physical meetings.

Thomas Ewers, Chairman of the ECC
Stelios Himonas, Vice-Chairman of the ECC
Mark Thomas, Director of the ECO