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How cultural and digital initiatives enhanced integrated working and governance on the A14

By Amy Reed-Gibbs, in News,

Author: Mark Berg, A14 Integrated Delivery Team and Costain senior project director
More than 14,000 people have worked together as one team over the past five years to transform 21 miles of strategic A-road network connecting the Midlands with ports in the East of England. Jim O’Sullivan, CEO of Highways England was proud to declare that the A14 is the only £bn+ project in Europe that has been delivered ahead of programme (eight months) and on budget.
The first phase of the Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme was completed a year ahead of schedule, and the second eight months early with £196m in efficiencies realised against the client target of £108m. One of the questions I’m often asked is ‘how?’.
More than meets the eye
You see a road project, We see data driving success
watch video
This complex scheme involved widening the existing road to a three and four-lane dual carriageway and improvements to over 20 miles of local road network. It was delivered by a Costain, Skanska and Balfour Beatty contractor joint-venture, working alongside designers Atkins and Jacobs, as an Integrated Delivery Team (IDT) with client, Highways England, supported by various strategic supply chain partners.
From the start, the IDT wanted to set a new standard for major project delivery, and to do that, we’d need to foster a high performing culture of collaboration, continuous improvement and innovation. In this article, I’ll explain how we used data and digital tools to help us achieve this, and how we built trust - in the information and in each other - to deliver on budget, ahead of time, and with a strong safety record.

Mark Berg with Grant Shapps, Secretary of State
Identifying the optimum pavement solution
With the largest pavement package of its time to be awarded, the IDT needed to identify the optimum commercial pavement solution, with efficiency and sustainability at heart. Tendering pavement contractors were provided with all available data from the outset and tasked with value engineering the pavement design to use local sources and minimise impact on the surrounding communities. The winning solution would lead to c.£5m cost saving efficiencies. 
Creating a collaborative environment
We knew that one of our most significant challenges would be bringing together five delivery partners, our client Highways England and suppliers, and enabling people to work effectively - on site and remotely. Our solution was to create environments that supported collaboration.
From the outset we set-up system access for all site offices to be the same, so people could move seamlessly from one physical space to another, without the hassle of accessing unknown systems. Consistency also helped us build a ‘one team' mentality.
But the scale of the project meant we had to go further to strengthen people’s connections with each other. At the commencement of work on site in 2016, the Office 365 tools many of us rely on now were just being released to the market. We worked with Microsoft to maximise the benefits of them so people could work from anywhere and still share information and ideas.
Agreeing strong leadership and common ways of working
To ensure we had a high performing, Integrated Delivery Management Team (IDMT), a competency framework was developed and used to select the right person for the right role, with a strong focus on collaborative skills, behaviours and leadership qualities as well as technical expertise. This behaviours-led methodology was extended across the project and incorporated into supply chain procurement.
Every organisation involved in the project had its own way of working, so our next step was to develop a shared vision, values, culture and quality management system, or integrated management system as we called it, that established clear and consistent processes to guide our work. To do this, we drew on best practice from all joint venture partners. The initiative, which was led by the work streams rather than a central team, created a common way of working for the project - ‘the A14 way’ - that people could relate to.
Establishing a single source of truth
As a leadership team, we had to make timely decisions on behalf of Highways England. We also wanted to be open with our client, partners and suppliers about our progress and performance in key areas. To achieve this, we created a cloud-based platform to hold project data and act as a single source of truth. We then spent six to 12 months working with our client to refine the content and frequency of the reports that would be generated from it.
We established what we referred to as a ‘rhythm’ to ensure we could deliver on the commitments we made. Beginning with the end of month report that was aligned to Highways England’s objectives, we asked ourselves what data was required to produce that document. We then put a schedule in place to ensure the information would be available in time.

Making data accessible
Building trust in the data that helped us build trust in each other
To build trust in the single source of truth, we started by encouraging people to move data from spreadsheets to our cloud-based platform, so we could unlock the value of the data that was held within individual, digital tools such as Oracle’s Primavera P6, Business Collaborator, Mosaic and EnterpriseOne – systems which normally don’t talk to each other. But in doing so, we were also asking people to embrace a more collaborative and open approach – and that took time to develop.
At first, some people feared the data would be used to point out where they might be under-delivering, and – understandably – they were reluctant to share information. We worked hard to drive change from the top down. As a leadership team, we demonstrated the trust we’d developed in each other, and shared data to promote transparency and keep people informed. Having robust data to hand built our client’s and colleagues’ trust, enabled us to take an objective view of performance and identify areas of work that would benefit from receiving greater support.
Then, when it was clear the data was being used to inform and empower colleagues, people embraced it. Within six months, many realised its value, and a year on, they wanted to contribute even more. We also made sure that information was accessible - to our partners, colleagues and supply chain. The data was brought to life through dashboards that were displayed on 79 digital signs installed at three main compounds, two sub compounds and permanent welfare facilities across the 35km site.
Democratising data to enhance productivity, safety and innovation
Instead of asking colleagues to take a leap of faith, it was important to demonstrate the benefits of data – that is, provide the information they needed to respond to challenges or opportunities. Several examples are below.
The IDT developed an app called Andon, which enabled our surfacing works partner, Aggregate Industries and our slipform partner PJ Davidson, to monitor in real time when work on site was either ongoing, had paused or stopped, using digital signage in the construction operations office just like a control room. On a project of this scale, if someone is unable to start work because of delays in another area, it can have a significant impact on the schedule. Having access to up-to-date data enabled us to boost surfacing productivity by 50%, Cement Bound Granular Material (CBGM) pavement by 50% and slip barrier and drainage by 30%.
Health, Safety and Wellbeing
Safety observation cards provide valuable insight into safety culture. But when we introduced our Observation app, the number of safety observations increased from around 500 to more than 4,000 per month. More importantly, the data we collated demonstrated that as the number of positive observations increased, negative ones decreased, and the number of incidents reduced. That showed us how important it is to recognise the right behaviours. Making the data visible helped us maintain our positive approach.
A team called the ‘Red Team’ was set up to reach out to the wider workforce when we needed help to solve difficult problems. The digital signs in the offices were used to share people’s good ideas and demonstrate how they were making an impact. In one case, we were struggling to find a way to build two bridges over the existing A14 without significantly impacting drivers or our schedule.
Inspired by a solution he’d seen on YouTube, a young engineer responded to our call for suggestions. He put forward a plan to construct the bridges off-site, transport them to the area, and lift them into position. We worked with the engineer to develop the idea and conducted a digital rehearsal to demonstrate to our client that the innovative approach could work. The result was two bridges were installed in one weekend, which meant we avoided 80 night-time full closures of the A14.
Having a consistent and reliable data source also enabled us to explore the potential of predictive technologies. As work on the scheme progressed we worked with Highways England and Microsoft on a pilot study into the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand how 140 different factors influenced the risk to workers, for example, working time, incidents and observations, ratios of supervisors to different operational roles and schedule activities. The information was shared with our safety teams, who could carefully monitor the situation on site. The pilot achieved 75 percent accuracy, which reduced to 65 percent after rollout, due to a decrease in incidents. The technology proved to be more than 160 percent accurate compared with a statistically random guess.

Sharing data and lessons learned
The cultural and digital initiatives the IDT implemented on the A14 improvement scheme helped us build people’s trust in each other and in the data. The digital solutions and real time reporting enabled the project to stay on programme and be handed over early. It’s worth noting that less than one percent of the total budget was allocated to these digital initiatives.
Our team won the prestigious Digital Initiative of the Year award (Civils) and Overall Initiative of the Year award at the British Construction Industry Awards in 2019 and was the first project to achieve 44001 collaborative accreditation. The hope is that the cultural methodology, digital approach and data leveraged on this project will help the many projects that follow.
Costain has evolved many of the digital tools developed on the A14 such as the Power BI dashboards, Safety Observation and Andon Apps as part of our own smart delivery platform (SDP). The SDP will soon enable data to be the fulcrum on all complex programmes in a similar way. In addition, we’ve leveraged our experience to help create the Intelligent Infrastructure Control Centre (IICC) which federates data at project, framework and enterprise level. Through tools such as these, data’s power to make infrastructure delivery safer, faster, greener and more efficient can be grown exponentially

The Construction Productivity Paradox

By Simon Murray, in News,

The productivity of the UK construction sector has been rising up the political agenda.  Reports by the World Economic Forum (WEF) 1, McKinsey 2, the Infrastructure Client Group and the Institution of Civil Engineers 3 have all highlighted that over the last twenty years productivity in construction has barely changed whilst productivity in manufacturing has improved by around 80%.  If the UK construction sector could achieve the levels of productivity seen in manufacturing, there would be a lot more money to invest in hospitals, schools, roads and railways.
The construction sector isn’t short of advice on how to improve productivity.  The WEF proposes six key areas for change, McKinsey suggests seven areas for action and, in its Construction Sector Deal, the Government lists yet more actions to support improvement.  The recommendations include familiar themes like greater use of offsite construction, digital technologies and developing advanced manufacturing methods for construction.  These innovations have been available for some time and are not widely used in construction.  Perhaps we should ask why the industry is reluctant to invest in improving its productivity.  And we could begin by understanding what we mean by construction productivity.
“Simply put, productivity is the ability to get more economic output from any given level of inputs.  Or, even more straightforwardly, the ability to make more stuff with the same number of workers.”
Duncan Weldon, Two Hundred Years of Muddling Through – Little Brown 2021
Productivity is the value added by a business divided by the amount of labour employed in producing its products and services and is typically expressed as £/person employed or £/hour worked.  The value added is the wages paid to the workers plus the business’s gross operating profit 4.  The Office for National Statistics (ONS) calculates the productivity of the UK construction sector by aggregating the value added and the labour employed for all of the companies in the sector.
The ONS defines the construction sector as all activities within sections 41 to 43 (excluding 41.1) of the UK Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities 2007.  This includes the construction of buildings and civil engineering works and some trades such as plastering and scaffolding.  It does not include consultancy services, computer systems or many manufactured items like precast concrete or transport equipment.  Whilst most of these items are recorded as inputs to the construction sector, they are not directly included in the value added by the sector.
Construction productivity is a measure of the value added per unit of labour for thousands of building and civil engineering contractors and specialist sub-contractors from the very largest national contractors right down to the smallest local building firms.  It is an interesting economic statistic, but it is of little help in understanding how construction companies add value and in measuring the effects of specific initiatives to improve productivity.  That requires us to investigate the productivity of individual businesses and, in particular, the large general contractors that have such influence over project delivery in the UK.
For an individual business, productivity is defined as:

A company’s gross profit is its revenues minus its cost of sales and is shown in the consolidated income statement that most large contractors publish in the financial statements in their accounts.  A metric that investors often use when comparing the performance of different companies is the gross profit margin or gross profit expressed as a percentage of turnover.  It reflects the company’s business model and is seen as a measure of how well it controls its cost of sales or how efficiently it uses labour and materials in its production process.    
Data from the accounts of quoted UK contractors suggests that their gross profit margins are typically in the range 5-10%.  In comparison, many leading manufacturers have gross profit margins in the range 10-40%.  Before the Covid pandemic, Boeing Inc’s financial reports showed a gross margin of 19.6% and Apple Inc a margin of 38.3%.  This difference reflects the different business models in contracting and manufacturing.
Most contractors obtain their projects through competitive tendering and then sub-contract up to 80% of their value.  This means that the prices they charge for their projects and their costs of sales are largely determined by competition in the market, leaving few opportunities to improve their performance by investing in better people, new technologies or better processes.  This approach also limits contractors’ opportunities to collaborate with their suppliers in reducing the costs of their inputs.  If a supplier has been through arduous tendering and negotiations to win a sub-contract, they are unlikely to share information or collaborate in reducing their prices.
It is possible for contractors to improve their productivity without reverting to the 1970s business model when they owned their plant, employed most of the labour on site and controlled the production process.  It requires careful thought and some simple analysis based on the definition of productivity set out above.  It is tempting for firms to just go ahead and implement some of the recommendations in the many reports on construction productivity.  But, without careful thought and analysis, they risk wasting their efforts and possibly, reducing their productivity even further.      
An obvious strategy for improving productivity would be for a contractor to produce better projects without increasing costs and then persuade their customers to pay higher prices for them.  Analysis shows that if a company could increase its prices by 5% without increasing its staff numbers or the costs of its sub-contracts, its productivity would improve by more than 30%.  The challenge for the company would be to develop demonstrably better projects than its competitors and then persuade its customers to pay higher prices.  This would require radical changes in current approaches to procuring projects that are unlikely in the medium term.
An alternative strategy would be to reduce the cost of sales by improving efficiency in the company’s supply chain.  The contractor could collaborate with its suppliers and invest in its supply chain to reduce costs, sharing the benefits with the suppliers.  If it was able to reduce the costs of its sub-contracts by 10% and share this 50:50 with its suppliers, its cost of sales would reduce by 5% and analysis shows that productivity would increase by nearly 30%.  Unfortunately, the improvement could be short lived, as other contractors would adopt the new approach, and competitive tendering would pass the cost reductions on to customers in lower prices.
The most promising strategy for improving productivity could be to reduce the time it takes to deliver projects.  If a contractor was able to deliver its projects in half the time without increasing its staff and with continuity of work, it could effectively double its revenues.  Allowing for the fact that the cost of its sub-contracts would also double, it would still deliver the same gross profits, and analysis suggests that its productivity would more than double.  A 50% reduction in time would require a radically different approach to planning and managing the project from detailed engineering through the manufacture of components to assembly on site.  But the benefits would more than justify the investment.
It is in all our interests for construction to improve its productivity, but the industry is not going to achieve this by randomly implementing the initiatives set out in the many reports on the subject.  We should begin by creating market conditions that encourage improvements in productivity, which means helping customers define value in their projects and creating procurement practices that reward the delivery of value.  The construction industry could then start the painful process of adjusting its business models and integrating supply chains to reward every participant for the contribution they make to the value delivered to the customer.
In time, these arrangements would lead the construction industry to focus on productivity as a priority and measure productivity consistently across projects.  It would also encourage contractors and suppliers to work together, investing in new technologies and practices that would continuously improve productivity.  As the economist Sir John Kay put it in an article in the Financial Times:
“modern humans – uniquely – are productive because they engage in cooperative activity.”
John Kay, FT Weekend 28/29 July 2018
1.     Shaping the Future of Construction – Future Scenarios and Implications for the Industry.  World Economic Forum, March 2018.
2.     Reinventing Construction: A Route to Higher Productivity.  McKinsey Global Institute, February 2017.
3.     From Transactions to Enterprises, A New Approach to Delivering High Performing Infrastructure.  Institution of Civil Engineers and the Infrastructure Client Group, March 2017.
4.     The Value of Everything, Making and Taking in the Global Economy.  Mariana Mazzucato, Allan Lane 2018                                 

Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030 sets the context for the Project 13 Principles to thrive

By Melissa Zanocco, in News,

Dale Evans, Chair Project 13 and member of the drafting team, explains how the Project 13 Principles align with Transforming Infrastructure Performance and how it supports the creation of  outcome-focused, collaborative delivery models.
Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030 (TIP) published today, sets out a clear direction for infrastructure and recognises the role infrastructure plays in ensuring people and places thrive. It is recognised that the current transactional model for delivering major infrastructure projects and programmes is broken. The outdated transactional approach prevents efficient delivery, prohibits innovation and as a result fails to provide the high-performing infrastructure networks that businesses and the public require.
Doing things differently
TIP offers a different direction and is prepared to tackle the restrictive practices embedded in the industry. By focusing on people and nature thriving, building on the Construction Playbook and Our Vision for the built environment, TIP contains a concrete Action Plan to ensure the right environment is created to enable better delivery. The opportunity offered by Enterprise models like Project 13 and digital transformation can be realised more fully, achieving benefits for society and nature.
Our Vision highlights that this is the right time for change: we know what best practice looks like, we understand the opportunity from digital transformation and we now have the opportunity to deliver differently. Made up of the Built Environment Model, five Focus Areas and an Action Plan, TIP is committed to putting these better ways of working into practice and making them the norm.
Focus Area 1: Delivering new economic infrastructure to drive improved outcomes for people and nature
As with the Construction Playbook, Government has consulted widely with industry and the result is the richer for this consultation. Focus Area 1 is most aligned with Project 13 and illustrates why the Enterprise model is most effective in responding to the system of systems that make up our built environment:
"Aligned outcomes and corresponding incentives: Greater impact from investment, at the societal level as a direct result of outcome-led and value-based decisions. Greater realisation of benefits that industry can bring through innovation. Adopters of Project 13 are demonstrating how engaging partners to deliver the required outcomes and aligning reward models accordingly, enables a broader system perspective, for example opening up opportunities to incorporate the optimisation of existing assets alongside the delivery of new assets and also enabling modern methods of construction."
Project 13 is looking forward to working with Government and the industry to implement TIP. The need for change has never been greater and we can only do it thorough collaboration and concerted effort.

Case study - Six Steps for Capable Ownership

By Andrew Page, in News,

Anglian Water began its journey to set up an alliance of organisations in 2004. Head of Commercial Services Andrew Page discusses the six key steps that continue to fuel its success.
Anglian Water’s Alliancing Journey.
Back in 2004, Anglian Water began its journey to set up an alliance of organisations as part of its Assessment Management Plan (AMP). Now, the business has seven different alliances, each of which cover many facets, from large scale infrastructure projects to IT solutions. Together, the Alliance is focused on Anglian Water’s investment programme to build a sustainable world.
1. Commitment starts at the top.
“We knew that changing the way we procured large programmes would be a challenge. We shifted the delivery of a multi-billion-pound regulatory investment programme to an entirely new commercial model. Our success was achieved by the unwavering commitment of our management board and investors, after 17 years, this commitment remains firm. As part of this process, our CEO continues to chair a quarterly Alliance Principals Group meeting with senior executives from each of our partnership organisations. This is a real, B2B conversation that not only demonstrates the commitment from our most senior members of the business but ensures that our focuses are consistently aligned.”
2. A Sustainable Commercial Model
“Adopting a sustainable commercial model delivers the efficiencies required by the owner and the returns required by each of our partners. A sustainable model must drive the right behaviours; behaviours that focus on delivering the outcomes required by the owner, whilst constantly delivering increased rewards to the shared Programme Pool. It’s important to note that this commercial model must also increase the size of the programme pool, and not increase the share generated for individual members.”
3. Choosing the Right Partners
“At Anglian Water, we understand that we don’t have all of the answers to every challenge. This is why our Alliance is made up of organisations that bring varied skill sets to tackle said challenges. We keep skills at the forefront of our minds when scoring tenders submitted for our alliances; fewer than a third of the marks available are for cost-based responses. We have a genuine focus on an organisations’ ability to demonstrate the right approach, the right people and partners, the right processes and systems, and the right environment.”
4. Creating Symbiotic Relationships
“Success requires an understanding that every partner in the enterprise has an equal voice. We have an unwavering acceptance that the enterprise will only succeed if all recognise the importance of each partner in delivering that success. These relationships are long-term, and the trust developed is an essential ingredient.”
5. Developing High Performing Teams
“In the early days it is all too easy to confuse great team spirit with a successful enterprise. The measure of the success of an enterprise is how it responds to challenges, and how open and transparent the team is. The key to success is absolute clarity of purpose around aligned outcomes. Anglian Water introduced a High Performing Teams development plan very early in the journey. It has proven to be an essential tool in helping newcomers adopt a new model and progress their journey with us.”
6. Deliberately Deliver Differently
“Anglian Water is now in its 17th year of its Alliancing-type delivery model. Throughout this time, we have had continuous support from the leaders of the business and have adapted the commercial models to meet each new regulatory period. We have worked through all challenges together, as an alliance. Each of our partners have been integral in delivering our Business Plan submissions to our regulators, this collaborative approach creates the conditions required for innovation and creativity to deliver our desired outcomes.”
Anglian Water’s alliancing journey is the cornerstone of what collaboration and alignment can achieve. As the regulated infrastructure owners in the UK increasingly look at various delivery models for major infrastructure investment, these are exciting times for further development of the P13 enterprise approach. We will continue to follow alternative routes for financing, designing, building, and operating assets that are our customers rely on in their daily lives.

Covid-19 digital transformation response revisited - what has really changed?

By Melissa Zanocco, in News,

Juned Ahmed, business analysis and improvement graduate, Openreach, summarises the main points from the DTTG Peer Review Programme Covid-19 re-visited session.
The Infrastructure Client Group’s Digital Transformation Task Group (DTTG) is made up of Chief Data Officers and their equivalents from the most progressive economic infrastructure clients and evolved from the Project 13 Digital Transformation Pillar. DTTG members met virtually in April 2020 for a special session to share initial learnings from the Covid-19 crisis along with common lessons, challenges and successes and the place digital transformation had in managing the pandemic in their organisations. You can read the initial reflections here.
One year on, the DTTG members met in May 2021 to reflect on the lessons from the pandemic. Members gave their thoughts regarding the ‘digital’ changes that were taken in response to COVID-19 and the lessons learned. They then looked forward and reflected on the extent to which those lessons will be incorporated / embedded into their ongoing strategy and culture.
A high-level summary from the discussion can be found here but highlights included:
Digital is now accepted by all parts of the organisation as inevitable.  Doubters and laggards have been forced to switch their mindsets, suspend their disbelief, and change the corporate mindset of ‘this won’t work for us because people won’t do it’. The gulf between the extent that people have personal readiness for digital and their level of expectation, which was significantly higher than the business was ready to make before, is now closing. ‘Resilient as a business, fragile as humans’: The importance of mental health and seeing the requirements of people, not just business needs, is now obvious. Methods and expectations in the delivery of training particularly for field-based operatives has had to change and adapt. The ideal state would be to create tools that need minimum or no training as they are intuitive and user friendly. Learning to trust employees to do their work even when they are not being physically overseen and to believe that people can adapt and be effective away from the office took time but is now reaping benefits. ‘Work is something you do, not somewhere you go’. There is an increased need for collaboration spaces in “the office” less need for desks Success breeds success approach: Building a constructive culture that celebrates success rather than focusing on the 2% that went wrong. What can we do better? If something went wrong, asking how we can help and offering thanks when it is fixed rather than having a blame culture leads to a more productive and innovative workforce. Miranda Sharp, Chair, DTTG Peer Review Programme, commented:

ECITB Project Collaboration Toolkit and Project 13

By Melissa Zanocco, in News,

A number of Project 13 adopters have benefited from application of the ECITB (Engineering Construction Industry Training Board) Project Collaboration Toolkit.  First developed to support project teams working in the oil and gas sector, the Toolkit incorporates learning from across a range of oil and gas projects to provide a ‘go to’ guide based on the principles of collaboration.
In seeking to drive the changes in culture and behaviour that underpin successful projects the toolkit shares common ground with Project 13 – and it is apparent why the adopters will have recognised this alignment in using the Project Collaboration Toolkit to support their change programme.
This relationship is now being further developed, with the ECITB’s Collaboration Toolkit being made available through Project 13 to help bring both improved productivity and cost savings on major infrastructure projects.
The Project Collaboration Toolkit is a practical ‘go-to’ guide, created by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) and aimed at supporting and benefitting projects through improved collaboration and smarter ways of working.  Originally designed for the offshore oil and gas sector, the toolkit is freely available for projects across other engineering construction sectors, helping to guide clients and contractors on how to work together more efficiently whilst sharing industry best practice on joint working.
Use of the ECITB Project Collaboration Toolkit across major offshore projects – such as Shell’s Brent Bravo topsides decommissioning project which achieved cost savings of 40% – shows that collaboration between investors, developers and the supply chain network can achieve significant efficiencies, greater productivity and faster project completion.
Now in its second edition, and closely aligned with the ISO 44001 standard on collaborative business relationships, the toolkit has been updated to fit all industry sectors engaged in capital projects. Presented as a workflow aligned to a typical project lifecycle, the toolkit is designed to be used at all levels of the supply chain, from regulators and operators through to contractors and suppliers, with the intention of building on existing synergies to help them become even stronger over time. The whole toolkit can be used to support project collaboration from inception to completion, or individual phase steps and activities can be applied by project managers to projects which have not been established on a collaborative strategy.
Next Steps for Project 13 and the Project Collaboration Toolkit.
Both Project 13 and the ECITB Collaboration Toolkit have sought to consolidate industry learning and to share this learning across the wider sector. In both cases this open sharing of best practice has served to accelerate broader industry progress.
It is no surprise that the two initiatives are now looking to develop a closer relationship, sharing progress from two sectors that are underpinned by significant investment programmes.
As a first step the Toolkit is now available through the Project 13 network. The start of what will be a mutually beneficial relationship.   
Find out more and download the free toolkit HERE

How to identify and recruit infrastructure leaders

By Adam Kirkup, in News,

What competencies, skills and experiences are required by leaders in a Capable Owner organisation? How does an Owner find these individuals and what barriers might it face to securing them?  
Project 13’s Capable Owner working group has published considered advice on the composition and recruitment of leadership teams.
The Identifying & recruiting infrastructure leaders report reflects the research and discussions that took place during the Capable Owner working group on the skills and experience required by the leaders of Owner organisations. It suggests factors to consider when recruiting such individuals, and practical steps that an infrastructure organisation should take to maximise its chances of recruiting the best leadership possible? 
About the report
Between July and October 2017, the Capable Owner working group of Project 13 considered the necessary qualities, capabilities, and behaviours of infrastructure Owners. It summarised its findings in a Capability Maturity Model.  This model provides an effective tool by which an Owner can evaluate its current approach and measure its progress towards Capable Owner status.  
In parallel, the Capable Owner working group explored the competencies of leaders within Owner organisations as ultimately it is they who will set the goals, priorities and culture to ensure the Owner organisation achieves its specified outcomes.  
Regardless of whether they are employed directly by the Owner or come from a consultancy, integrator or supply chain partner, the quality of leaders is vital. Selecting them and ensuring that they operate effectively is one of the most important decisions the Owner organisation will make.   
So, what competencies, skills and experiences are required by leaders in a Capable Owner organisation? How does an Owner find these individuals and what barriers might it face to securing them?  
To answer these questions, the Project 13 Capable Owner working group with the support and facilitation of Professor Graham Winch and his team from Alliance Manchester Business School, examined the skills required by leaders in a Capable Owner organisation in the infrastructure sector.
The report and its conclusions can be downloaded via the resources section of the Project 13 Network website
Please note that you must be signed in, or register as a member of the Project 13 network to access this report.  It is free to become a member, and you simply need to complete the simple registration details here

The digital transformation of the industry gathers pace

By Adam Kirkup, in News,

Melissa Zanocco, ICG Head of Programmes, summarises the highlights from the latest Digital Maturity Benchmarking Report, illustrating that UK asset owners and operators accelerated their digital transformation in reaction to COVID-19.
The findings of the Infrastructure Client Group (ICG) Digital Benchmarking Report 2020, which provides a snapshot of digital maturity from members of the ICG’s Digital Transformation Task Group (DTTG), show that digital maturity increased by around 20% relative to last year driven particularly by improvements in digital transformation and asset management.
The report, produced by Mott MacDonald for the ICG using data from the Smart Infrastructure Index, surveyed leading asset owners and operators from the transport, energy, defence and water sectors representing more than 40% of the national infrastructure and construction pipeline, including Project 13 Adopters. It showed that those with a clear digital strategy, who had already embraced the need for transformation, were much better positioned to ride out the storm and capitalise on the new digital-first normal.
Benefiting from three times as many responses as last year and involvement from the new Buildings Client Group, the report represents the most comprehensive benchmark yet of digital maturity across UK infrastructure and the built environment.
Highlights from the report include:
+10pts improvement in digital strategy and plans. Twice as many organisations had an empowered network of digital change agents. +17pts increase in standardisation and automation. Only 36% were confident most decisions were informed by evidence, not instinct. 77% say poorly organised information prevents them from realising its full value. There have been dramatic improvements in some of the areas tested hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic - resilience, how well risks to service were handled, and security – as organisations were forced to adopt remote and online working at speed. The members shared how this has strengthened the business imperative for digital transformation, with initiatives that previously might have waited months for approval being rolled out almost overnight. In this way COVID-19 has served as a digital accelerator, forcing to the front what many held as a long-term priority.
Mark Enzer, Chair ICG Digital Transformation Task Group and Chief Technical Officer, Mott MacDonald said: “
Digital Benchmarking Report 2020
Read the report here to learn more about its findings related to the six cross-cutting themes: organisational alignment; adopting effective operating models; unlocking investments; the human challenge; digital twins; and short-term pressure: the impact of COVID-19 on digital transformation.
Melissa Zanocco is Head of Programmes for the Infrastructure Client Group

Empire State Building – 90 years old, designed and built in 20 months and still ahead of most of us on integration and efficiency 90 years on

By Simon Murray, in News,

When it opened in May 1931, the Empire State Building (ESB) in New York was the tallest building in the world.  It had also been delivered in record time.  “Within just twenty months – from the first signed contracts with the architect in September 1929 to opening-day ceremonies on May 1st 1931 – the Empire State Building was designed, engineered, erected and ready for tenants.”1  This challenging schedule included the demolition of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on whose site the ESB was built.
It is tempting to argue that the construction of the ESB reflected conditions in the US in the early 1930s and cannot be used to benchmark the construction of tall buildings today.  It was built at the beginning of the Great Depression, so there were no shortages of labour or materials.  It was also built at a time when there was less concern with the health and safety of the workforce.  Seven people were killed during the construction of the ESB – one of them was a young woman in the street below who was injured by a piece of wood that fell from the building and who subsequently died from sepsis.  But by making these arguments, we ignore the fact that the design, engineering and construction of the ESB was delivered by an integrated team of experienced architects, contractors and suppliers using the most advanced production methods available at the time.
Fortunately, we have accounts of the construction of the ESB that we can use to explore how this remarkable building was delivered.  In 1928 William Starrett published Skyscrapers and The Men Who Build Them which is a personal and detailed account of the design and construction of tall buildings.  Starrett was a partner in Starrett Brothers and Eken – the contractor that delivered the ESB.  After the building was opened, staff in the contractor’s office wrote up detailed notes of the planning and construction of the building and these have been published by The Skyscraper Museum.  Since then there have been several academic studies of the project including a recent paper from Indiana University.
Taken together, these sources paint a picture of an approach to promoting, designing, engineering and constructing the building that is different to the approaches we use today.  The promoters were a small group of wealthy men who had intimate knowledge of the economics of tall building and were clear about the outcomes they required.  They appointed the architect and the contractor at about the same time and based on capability and experience rather than on price.  And they engaged the key suppliers like the Otis Elevator Company at the outset in completing the design of the ESB and planning its construction.  In many ways they were following the principles we advocate today through Project 13.
Integrated processes and information
Starrett Brothers and Eken were experts in the construction of tall buildings.  It is clear from William Starrett’s book that they understood how every component in a tall building was made and how much labour, materials and plant were consumed in making it.  The processes they used to plan and manage the construction of the ESB was based on this deep knowledge and reflected their culture and attitudes.  They were respected as experts in their field and, although they sub-contracted large elements of the project, they took responsibility for its engineering and construction.  In the accounts of the project, there is no mention of transferring risks to sub-contractors.  Starrett Brothers and Eken took most of the risks and expected to keep most of the rewards.
The estimates were developed from first principles using the contractor’s knowledge of the costs of materials, plant and labour.  From their experiences of building similar skyscrapers, the contractor knew how much labour was needed to construct a cubic foot of concrete floor or a square foot of limestone cladding and this Labour Unit Cost was a key metric in monitoring construction and assessing whether the project was within budget.
During construction, the contractor employed a team of inspectors that visited every part of the project several times a day and recorded the amount of work that had been done.  This information was summarised in the Daily Construction Report and was used to calculate the actual labour unit cost for each element of work.  If this number was above that used in the initial costs estimate, the contractor was losing money and if it was less, they were making money.  And because the information was available within hours of the work being completed, the contractor was able to take action before any problems became too large.
This approach to monitoring the construction also ensured that in respect of the current status of the project, there was one version of the truth that was available almost in real time.  The inspectors measured the work that had been done that day, the staff in the project team consolidated it into a summary report and it was presented to the Superintendent and to Paul Starrett within hours of the work being completed.  The whole team seemed to have been aligned towards achieving the targets rather than challenging the data.
To read more from Simon on the Empire State Building click here

Project 13 reveals the seven elements that drive integration

By Adam Kirkup, in News,

Analysis of seven major programmes by Project 13 has revealed a golden thread of seven key features that drive integration which it says is at the heart of improved decision making and better outcomes. This analysis features in the new Project 13 Integration paper discussing integrating processes and information within project teams.
Click here to read the full Project 13 Integration Report
The Project 13 Integration Board analysed how schemes, from construction of Stratford East Village to development of Highways England’s Business Information Framework successfully used integration to deliver better results.
This revealed the elements that were common and that allowed the projects to successfully integrate their processes and information.  These the board have categorised as enabling features or core technical features.
Under enabling features, all of the programmes had:
Capable owners that had clear business objectives that set out to adopt integrated approaches to delivery Governance and metrics were used to monitor the delivery of the programmes and satisfy owners that the business objectives were being achieved. Organisation and culture was established at the outset to support integrated working. Under governance and metrics for example, GSK’s Factory in a Box used full scale trials of the erection of a factory to demonstrate that the approach would work in a developing country using local labour.
The core technical features are:
Product development  - the case studies suggesting that the first step in implementing integrated processes is to define a project as a set of products. Process development  - successful integration meant teams developed their production processes in parallel with the detailed engineering of the projects. The emerging production process were usually led by the owner and its contractors which influenced the engineering, details of components and arrangement for transporting them and fixing them in place. Supply and logistics – where the case studies demonstrated that not only streamlined delivery of materials was critical but also the workforce. Information architecture – a common thread was the ability to access shared information that could be instantly consolidated to create real time data on progress. Under core technical features the Project 13 Development Board highlights as an example construction of HMS Queen Elizabeth. The warship was conceived as nine functional modules built in six different shipyards and then towed to Rosyth Dockyard for assembly.
Programmes studied were:
Empire State Building –opened in 1931 and still groundbreaking
Stratford East Village – two 23 storey residential towers build using production techniques developed by Mace
Factory in a Box – GSK’s development of pharmaceutical manufacturing plants using standard components
HMS Queen Elizabeth – production techniques to improve productivity in construction of a very large warship
Highways England Business Information Framework – development of standards and processing for integrating information across all its major programmes
Strategic Pipelines Alliance – Anglian Water’s strategy for delivering £650M investment in improving resilience of water supply
Construction to production – developed by Drees & Sommer of processes and systems for productionising design and construction.
Click here to read the full Project 13 Integration Report

Vision for the Built Environment aligned with core Project 13 Principles

By Melissa Zanocco, in News,

Dale Evans, Chair Project 13 and member of the Vision Steering Group, explains how the Project 13 Principles align with the Vision and how Project 13 will play its part in making it a reality.
‘Our Vision for the built environment’ released today (22 April 2021), reinforces the direction advocated by Project 13.  With contributions from over 75 industry leaders and endorsed by more than 35 industry bodies spanning the built environment, the vision describes the future we want: a built environment whose explicit purpose is to deliver better outcomes for people and nature.
It recognises the significant opportunity we are presented with, in now having the tools, technology and delivery models to make this future vision a reality.
Outcome-focused collaborative delivery models
The Vision calls for ‘approaches to the delivery of interventions that are able to deal with complexity, and enable effective integration of new assets into the existing systems. Outcome-focused collaborative delivery models leverage input from across the supplier ecosystem, bringing together engineering and technology to deliver intelligent solutions.’
The built environment has traditionally been seen as a series of unconnected construction projects focused on short-term outputs.  Suppliers construct individual assets, delivering solutions predetermined by the owner.  The resulting delivery processes and relationships are formed narrowly around the scope of this new asset.  By the time delivery teams are brought together, there is little recognition of the outcomes required of the solution.
The Project 13 Principles require that the end-to-end process of development is focused on improving outcomes; so maintaining the focus on the purpose of the intervention, aligning teams around a common purpose and creating greater opportunity for creativity and innovation. This marks a significant shift from the traditional approach that focuses on projects and building stuff - and where success is defined in terms of project metrics and cost.
The Project 13 Enterprise delivery model allows owners and operators to:
Focus on the better outcomes we are trying to achieve for people and nature; Recognise that an understanding of the existing system increases the opportunity to achieve these outcomes through better and more efficient use of the system; Ensures that where the required intervention does include new assets, they are integrated effectively with the existing system. The Vision is aligned with Project 13 in calling for the alignment of outcomes; from global and national strategic priorities, through to investment decisions for individual interventions. The Project 13 Principles advocate owners developing processes that provide a clear understanding of local requirements; the voice of the customer, the communities and the environment. The dialogue that takes place to agree the desired outcomes is crucial in creating alignment and clearly articulating the outcomes required.
Making the Vision a Reality
The Vision calls for everyone involved in development of the built environment to contribute to this new approach. As the Project 13 Community, we aim to do just that. In 2020 the number of Project 13 Adopters doubled, and the Project 13 Network, launched in March 2021, already has over 750 registered members, demonstrating the commitment to leading the change required and to helping the industry make this shift.
Project 13 is also contributing to the Infrastructure and Projects Authority on the Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030 to be published later this year, which will help to translate the Vision into policy.

Why is it more relevant than ever to develop capability?

By Lucy Howard, in News,

Lucy Howard, Project 13 Capable Owner Development  Group Co-Chair  and Head of Infrastructure Markets at Turner & Townsend, discusses the need to focus on the core six areas of capability following the Covid crisis.
2020 has seen many owners around the world adapting to unique challenges to maintain productivity, sustain supply chains, and enact a step change in digital transformation in the face of a global pandemic. Project 13 Adopters have doubled in Number in 2020 with more owners recognising the value of the six core capabilities in making their organisations more resilient in the crisis and to deliver outcomes in the face of these challenges.
These are the capabilities and how they are changing the landscape.
Articulating the voice of operations requires enabling an equal voice for both operations and maintenance upfront in the enterprise. Covid-19 has shown us the importance of operational staff who have been working on the front lines during the pandemic. Capable Owners need to translate the experience of those staff in managing our assets in these times into project requirements so we build back with more resilient infrastructure.
Articulating the voice of the customer requires identifying, engaging, and absorbing customer views into organisational goals and outcomes.  Anglian Water’s innovative engagement with its customers is demonstrating how this can lead to a strong set of outcomes that deliver economically sustainable solutions for the environment, for the enterprise and ultimately for the customers.
Recruiting and maintaining talent requires that we seek out those with the skills, desire to challenge, comfort with ambiguity, and business management. This means those in leadership roles have to be proactive in finding those people. As the industry emerges from Covid, owners and their supply chains will need to draw in new skills and thinking from beyond the sector.
Value driven mindset requires re-focus from assets to the infrastructure services provided by those assets. Value is achieved through service provision outcomes, not asset delivery outputs. This means that what is required is an outcome focused strategic case that meets long term investment needs rather than the traditional short term, cost and output driven economic case.
Relating to the ecosystem requires new commercial models that align suppliers to organisation and customer outcomes. There has to be a move away from the transactional approach towards that of a high performing value adding enterprise where strong relationships are developed between all parties who have the ability to affect the overall outcome. Risk also has to be appropriately proportioned and discussed in an open and transparent manner. As we emerge from these challenging times, this ethos is of increasing importance as we look to improve the industry’s resilience going forwards.
Creating and maintaining complex systems requires the technology, structures and processes that fuel an enterprise perform at their best. Capable owners establishing new enterprises in the predominantly virtual environment created by Covid 19 have been required to develop new abilities and use new techniques. As my co-chair John Grimm observes: “Bringing together multiple organisations to create an aligned enterprise to deliver outcomes has historically been challenging, but trying to do this in a virtual environment poses a set of additional demands.”  To overcome them takes commitment from all parties, some new skillsets and different approaches to the ways of working.

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