The challenges faced by contractors working on long-term projects are complex. Meeting these challenges positively through constructive planning, the creation of collaborative working environments, and a continued focus on the entire programme will result in success.
So why do so many long-term projects fail?
Programmes that are over-budget, miss delivery deadlines, cause legal action between parties and damage reputations are detrimental to businesses, reduce public and stakeholder support and have a negative impact on the bottom line.
Use our 10-step programme to ensure your next programme becomes a by-word for best practice.
Procurement is one of the most important phases of your programme – and it is the start of a long journey. Getting the procurement stage right is vital, laying the foundations for the hard work ahead, and ensuring that the attitudes, behaviours and measurement that is put in place at this stage continues right through the life of the programme.
What will a successful programme look like? How will you achieve it? All your planning should be focused towards supporting your final outcome – even if it is 15-20 years in the future.
You will be working with your programme partners for a long time. Individuals may join or leave the programme during that time, so it is essential that you build a collaborative culture across the programme, demonstrating your commitment to the process from the top of each organisation down to the contractors on the ground. Effective relationships will deliver excellent results for you, your clients and your stakeholders.
How will all your partners work together during the lifetime of this programme? When you are selecting partners during the procurement phase, look at their abilities and strengths across the board – and with a long-term view.
In our work with Thames Water on their infrastructure alliance procurement, we used parts of the Delivery Team Workshops to co-create with prospective partners what form the assessed site visits would take. One whole stream of the three day workshop focused on mobilisation type activity in order to increase the ability for the alliance to hit the ground running.
JCP helped Anglian Water to select partners for its Amp6 period scope of work. When selecting we looked across the board, measuring people consistently against an agreed behavioural model across a number of interventions – not just assessment workshops but interviews, behavioural biographies, and site visits. Bidders were frequently engaged as to how they would work with the client as were members of the client organisation too who attended assessments as participants and were assessed alongside the bidder.
A signed contract is a huge success – but it is only the start of the programme. Contracts don’t enable collaboration; people working with a coherent plan do. Encouraging and fostering collaborative working that has momentum when the contract is signed is a positive step towards the best outcome.
Creating an environment for effective long-term collaboration requires a strong plan. This plan needs to help you and your partners build an engaging, supportive environment at all levels of the programme so that collaboration is something that is done by everyone – working together to achieve great results. Planning allows you to develop a strategy, create trust amongst your partners, ensure that everyone has the right skills for their part in the programme and have clear lines of communication.
Applying great collaboration in one area of your project is a start – but if it’s not replicated elsewhere, your project could still fail. Pay attention to sharing best practice across organisational, regional and functional silos, enabling all areas to work to their maximum potential.
For example, one of the reasons behind the successful delivery of the 2012 London Olympics was the circumvention of the usual Government and Department silos that can plague large public projects. As was noted in the learning documents produced after the event, people understood that unless the games were delivered successfully everyone would emerge from the project looking bad. It was a case of ‘everyone succeed together or fail together’ and was a real driver for successful collaboration.
Successful collaboration is more about deploying the right behaviours than focusing on process. Look for people who already demonstrate the attitude that fits with your programme, or who can build those attitudes with focused training. Invest time in recruitment, relationships and behaviours to establish a solid platform for your programme.
Leaders across your programme need to have a single goal – to create an environment where people feel safe and supported. There is nothing to be gained from demanding collaboration and then being unsupportive of change. Leading by example helps to encourage positive behaviour, enables others to try out new approaches and builds a focus on working together to achieve programme goals.
No long-term project is the same. Even within the same industry and for the same end-client, every project is different and requires a new plan and a new approach. Assuming you already have the skills and competencies to be successful could be the first step towards failure. Understanding that a fresh approach is needed every time is the mark of a mature, effective programme leader.
Measurement is a key feature of any project. For your programme, remember to measure not just the key data points, but the ways your alliance is working, how your partners are managing collaboration, and whether behaviours are contributing positively to progress. This is important throughout the project, but particularly so if leaders move on, new teams arrive or the project specifications alter.
For More Information Contact:
JCP Press Office on: 01252 711025
JCP Website: http://www.jcpconsultancy.com
Notes to Editor:
JCP Consultancy Ltd was born out of John Carlisle Partnerships in 2002 with original board members and shareholders being: David Curtis, David Maxwell, Diarmid de Burgh Milne, Malcolm Newman and Simon Vaughan. Over the coming years both David Curtis and Malcolm retired from the business and in 2014 Diarmid left JCP to pursue new opportunities. For more information on the JCP board members and the company associates, click here.
JCP specialises in helping major clients, contractors and their supply chains realise the benefits of reduced cost, speedier delivery, increased profit and improved relationships from working collaboratively with each other. They have a 91% success rate in helping clients win work. The company has worked with leading names including Network Rail, National Grid, Highways Agency, Welsh Water, London Underground and Thames Water and with Central Government including DfT, BIS, and HMT Infrastructure UK.