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Project Performance Improvement

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The Challenge

We were approached by a large public company which was managing a complex infrastructure project to be delivered within a 2 year deadline, to assist with their Project Performance Improvement.

In the early months of the project, signs and symptoms of missed targets, waste, rising costs and staff frustrations began to appear.   The whole project was in danger of slipping behind schedule.

The Investigation

Using evidence based management; the first job was to establish the true performance of each specialist function within the organization. (e.g. commercial, engineering, procurement, construction, finance, quality, HR, IT.)

Feedback from customers and contractors was sought and problems, bottlenecks and ‘show stoppers’ were identified and clarified from all the key players.

Interviews were conducted in each department to identify how team members rated their department’s functions and how they thought the other departments were functioning.  The key objective was to identify any areas of miscommunication and differences in role and responsibility perception.

The Program

Once this data had been gathered we ran a 2 day off-site workshop to gather feedback from the key players and to start to address the issues.  Problem solving in this active and dynamic way came up with many workable solutions.

A major part of the workshop involved communicating the RISK of not changing – resulting in an unhappy client, existing contract threatened, poor reputation, loss of future new business etc.

A very powerful technique was used were each department and function area had to write details on a flip chart and invite the other participants to put ticks against the comments if they agreed.  This included things like:

Please Stop Doing (devalues/not helpful)

  • Preventable errors,
  • Un-returned phone calls/e-mails
  • Waste
  • Un-delivered objectives

Please keep doing/Do more of (Adds value/Helpful).

  • Waste minimisation
  • Focus on responsiveness
  • Accountability
  • Timely milestone delivery

We also introduced the team to ‘Poor Quality Costing’ where against each ‘Please Stop Doing’ we put a cost on it.  This included money, materials, man power and damaged relationships (customer/supplier/internal).

Action plans were then devised with targets, resources, deadlines and identifying whose responsibility it was. Commitment to change from all the individuals involved was agreed and documented.

These action plans would be monitored using a Project Performance Improvement ‘Traffic light’ system of Red, Amber & Green lights to indicate how that objective was progressing.  A 0-9 rating was also assigned, to measure when milestones were being reached.

Individual coaching and reinforcing Performance Management with senior players, and regular contact with the management team, ensured lasting change.

The Outcome

Monthly reviews were held with all the team leaders and each person reported on their objectives.  All departments rated each other using Red/Amber/Green cards to monitor how each area was functioning in the overall, smooth running of the project.  This gave a very high degree of visibility and ensured accountability at all levels.

These measures were maintained through the life of the 2 year project, and it was delivered on time, and on budget.  All members of the teams reported suffering less stress and frustration while working more sensible working hours and experiencing better job satisfaction.

The skills that these teams learnt through delivering this project, were taken on to new projects they went on to deliver.

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