Clarity and consistency of delivery approach coupled to the ability to appropriately 'tailor' individual project's assurance regimes at London Heathrow lead to significant delivery cost reduction whilst at the same time being coupled to increased safety of their investment cases throughout their projects' lifecycles. These rewards arose from the controlled development and implementation of their Capital Delivery Divisions project lifecycle.
Mat Palmer a senior programme director at London Heathrow (LHR), who commissioned the piece of work, recognises CITI's contribution '...the subject matter expertise, clarity of thinking and passionate facilitation provided by CITI all made huge contributions to the overall effectiveness of this initiative.'
The situation that LHR faced was confusing. A legacy of numerous methodologies and independent processes, which were still extant and to some degree abided by, had led to the organisation attempting to introduce a 'heavy weight' consultancy-led homogenous framework. This failed to gain traction amongst the user community, probably because it was developed externally, with little or no involvement amongst the users and without any operational detail or considerations factored into the approach. A further contributory factor being that due to the segregated lifecycle in Capital Delivery projects there is invariably a hand-over from pre-feasibility, optioneering and scheme development to delivery; this, unsurprisingly, requires the careful management of different stakeholders.
Learning from the organisation's costly mistake Matt decided to run a 'Blitz' week; during this he would corral the primary opinion shapers in each of the business units, involved across the entire product lifecycle, to resolve an appropriate overall project lifecycle at an architectural level. This would then allow the development of the detailed supporting sub-processes whilst, crucially, maintaining the buy-in and commitment of the disparate divisions. To flatter this ambition Matt was keen to ensure that the exercise of developing this process should be seen as organisational and not partisan to the Capital Delivery division - he therefore needed the work to be mediated by an expert third party.
Looking for an experienced facilitator, who could manage powerful stakeholders from different parts of the business whilst, at the same time, putting an imprimatur of expertise in assurance and change -lifecycle development on the exercise, led to the engagement of CITI.
Approach to solution
The solution was developed over a two stage process. The first stage was the 'Blitz' week itself. During this two CITI consultants acted as facilitators, scribes and subject matter experts on lifecycle development and application. A seven stage lifecycle with clearly differentiated gates was collaboratively developed against an input/output model. This allowed a powerful differentiation of entry from exit gates that facilitated modifications to the governance structure to give clarity over who would be making which decisions and on what basis at different points in the process.
On a daily basis the output and conclusions of the workshops were reviewed by the senior management team of LHR to ensure consistency, buy-in and alignment. By the Friday afternoon an organisationally agreed seven-stage architectural model had been developed along with a listing of the key inputs and outputs (mainly authorisation and control documentation - e.g. updated business cases) at each of the stage gates. The week concluded with a planning session to enable stage two to proceed.
Stage two was about the development and formalisation of the detailed sub-processes of the lifecycle that would allow the architectural model to function efficiently and with sufficient flexibility to be tailored to different initiatives (part of an effective assurance management process being about ensuring the assurance is commensurate with the complexity, risk and cost of failure of any given initiative). This was achieved with CITIs support in a mixed consulting/executive engagement. An example of this would have been the application of standard LHR levels of authority to different levels of complexity (as determined by CITI's Project Complexity Analysis Tool [PCAT]) to establish the appropriate level of control and therefore stage gate requirements for any given initiative.
Working alongside the small internal team within Capital Delivery, who maintained vigorously active links with all parties involved in the 'Blitz' week, on a model that tapered down from a day or two a week to ad-hoc individual 'draw-down', CITI was able to maintain a degree of expertise, explanation and continuity that made the journey to the official launch and adoption of the new lifecycle as efficient as possible.
Being able to apply simple, principle-based approaches during a week-long facilitated workshop, particularly with voluble and opinionated participants, delivers real clarity to all parties. These simple approaches however have to be underpinned by a profound understanding of the ways in which assurance can add value and what constitutes an appropriate level of assurance for any given initiative. Unless this can be achieved, the ability to deliver the optimum value through tailoring assurance will be lost.
Appropriate stakeholder engagement is invariably helpful in engineering successful change. Not only achieving early, high-energy, commitment but then maintaining an active dialogue during the 'long-haul' detailed development. The management of both of these to gain buy-in to, and acceptance of, the final outputs was one of the most significant factors in driving Matt's success.
Models / tools used
The 'Blitz' week depended heavily on CITI's use of its facilitative and educational skills alongside the application of the IDEF0 process model to generate an input/output view of the lifecycle. Lifecycle differentiation techniques were also deployed to remove the latent ambiguity, between project and product development lifecycles, that permeates many capital delivery organisations.
Tailoring of subsequent assurance and governance processes, arising from the developed lifecycle, was assisted by the application of PCAT which was suitably moderated for the particular complexities that LHR has to frequently deal with.
"The classic training model, taking individuals out of the business to sit in a classroom for a week at a time, was not going to work for us. But at the same time, we knew we needed to raise our game in managing change. I have to say, your people are brilliant!"