Process empowers performance – Asset Management Theme Group workshop report

I remember the first time I saw the power that process, properly applied, can bring to improving performance.

It was over twenty years ago, and I was part of a team that had to design and construct a £120m, 38,000m2, 700 bed acute hospital in 1/3rd less time that the previous benchmark. To help do this, we decided to apply lean manufacturing techniques to the construction site, turning the construction site into a factory for the construction of the hospital. We worked with a lean practitioner who had us play a simple game simulating the production of a product, where each of us had to assemble a component as a step in the production process. We initially applied a normal way of working to producing the products, which proved to be completely chaotic putting everyone under pressure. We then applied a lean approach and the contrast was dramatic, obviously better in every way, work flowed and everyone was relaxed and under no pressure. That experience taught me that process properly applied can really deliver improved performance.

Two of the most pressing issues the Constructing Excellence membership have asked the asset management group to review are the proper application of process and use of data in the design, construction and operation of built assets. These issues are inexorably linked and form the focus of three of our workshops this year.

We examined the application of process at our latest workshop “How can process improve built asset operational performance?” which was hosted by Bouygues, last Wednesday in London.

At our workshop, we dealt with three process themes, the application of collaborative processes, using process to improve performance in the design and operation of buildings and the application of Building Information Modelling (BIM) to the construction and operation of built assets.

  • George Stevenson, ActivePlan Consulting Ltd – Managing Director and member of the CE Collaborative Working Champion shared with us the integrated toolkit, an approach to deliver better construction outcomes. He also explained how BIM data can be used to more successfully operate built assets.
  • Dr Andy Lewry, Principal Consultant, Sustainable Energy Team, BRE explained how the application of structured approaches such as benchmarking and certification can lead to buildings that perform higher in terms of operational costs, rental value and tenant satisfaction.
  • Chloe Obi, Head of BIM at Bouygues and her colleague Ahmed Al-Naggar overviewed the approach Bouygues are applying to BIM in construction and the operation of build assets post construction. Their presentation highlighted the value that BIM can bring to projects as a component of a joined-up asset management strategy and plan.

For me the takeaway conclusion from the day is that you need to start by defining the core purpose and value you want to derive from your build assets to be able to identify the appropriate processes to apply to your project life cycle (i.e. through its design, procurement, construction, setting to work and operation). This is because the outcomes and information you will need to track will be specific to your organisation and its circumstances. Taking this approach will allow you to identify what you need to achieve at each step of your project and what processes will support you in doing this.

My summary is that once you’ve successfully developed the big picture for your project, attention to the detail of what happens will really make a big difference. It is clear from our workshop presentations, discussions and the experience of CE members that process properly applied can really empower performance.

John O’Brien is chair of the asset management group and the founder and MD of LCMB a building performance specialist which helps clients improve the performance and productivity of their buildings. You can download a copy of the workgroups previous report Delivering built asset operational excellence and secure a place to attend future asset management group meetings and workshops by contacting John O’Brien, Group chair john@lcmb.co.uk or Colm Quinn, Group secretary Colm.Quinn@constructingexcellence.org.uk.

The dates of our next workshops and the asset management issues we will address are detailed below:

1.30pm 26th April 2017 The use of big data to improve built asset performance Unlocking and using big data to improve built asset performance
1.30pm 12th July 2017 Integrating data systems How to improve the performance of built assets by joining up data systems
1.30pm 20th September 2017 Making existing built asset work How to improve the performance of existing built assets
1.30pm 24th January 2018 Asset management summit Joining up guidance and insights for CE members to help differentiate their services

1 thought on “Process empowers performance – Asset Management Theme Group workshop report”

  1. Reading your experience of 20 years ago set me thinking. Back then I was lucky enough to work in the offshore petroleum construction on a billion $ project. CRINE an industry focus at that time included many of the things you mention.

    CRINE meant a new approach, and everything was open to consideration.

    The particular project comprised a 600-foot tower standing in 500 feet of water, carrying 30,000 tonnes of equipment. The inventory included a two hundred bed hotel, power station, 100,000 barrels per day gas and oil facilities, with compressors, pumps and other treatment, together with a drilling rig capable of boring 14,000 feet into the seabed.
    Lots happened to validate the oil and gas reservoir, agree on funding and find buyers for the production, but that aside much happened on the facilities.

    First, a discussion and review with all the North Sea major players, clients, contractors and major suppliers, established what worked and what needed to be improved to form the basis of a plan.
    Funding parties created an alliance partnership, and that concept rolled on with alliance partnerships with all the supply chain.
    Evaluation of thirty possible solutions evolved into a final decision.
    Funding parties agreed on a single project insurance.
    A jointly owned project budget provided a basis for extra profit incentive by a share of the savings.
    Procurement was not exclusively but when possible based on ability to influence the outcome.

    Everyone joining the project took part in a two-day induction course, and extensive training took place throughout the project.
    A single office location brought folks from every part of the development including client, design, fabrication, heavy lift, hook-up and commissioning, together with operations people. Visitors often commented on how evident it was that everyone worked for the same team.
    Creating a single team from all the supply chain parts received considerable attention. The programme included from small individual group events to lavish parties celebrating milestones to which everyone on the team was invited, often together with their partners. Town Hall meetings occurred regularly bring everyone up to speed. Smaller suppliers got involved through an extensive programme designed to include them in the project and ensured maximum satisfaction for everyone.
    The team studied every part of the process from design through, module fabrication, offshore hook-up and commissioning and operations. A brown paper exercise was used, which allowed groups all the different interests to gather round a map and discuss what they did. Just such a simple concept allowed the teams themselves to identify numerous small opportunities where they could help one another across group and company boundaries.
    One particular finding was that an engineer had to obtain clearance, in some cases from 30 levels of management. Consequently, responsibility was clearly placed with the engineer to consult and inform as appropriate.
    Man to man marking was not allowed, and everyone understood their role and authority with the use of RACI charts. Equally, everyone knew decision should be evidence based with no place for preference engineering.
    3D drawings and measurement surveys ensured hook-up of the twenty modules, of up to 7,000 tonnes each, went smoothly without the very expensive remedial worked caused by misalignment and clashes of previous projects.
    Not peculiar to the particular project, but generally within CRINE, savings of 20% and much quicker development times occurred as measured against recognised industry benchmarks.

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