In February 2016, Swansea University hosted an event on behalf of the SWWE Branch to present the use of lean metrics and continuous improvement to drive project success in Natural Resources Wales. NRW primarily manage the appraisal, design and construction of flood defences. With budgets allocated annually, the need for delivery against programme is essential for spend profiling.
Continuous improvement, also encompassing 'Lean tools' and 'Six Sigma', is the concept of using metrics to identify areas to improve processes, so driving efficiency. 'Lean' considers how the culture of an organisation drives behaviour by hierarchical top down ways of managing or a bottom up systems thinking culture, and strives to hone processes so they are stripped of all unnecessary 'waste' - be that time, resource or cost.
Angela Ellis team leader of the capital projects delivery team at NRW, presented how the management of flood defence projects in NRW had been through a programme of continuous improvement for 18 months via the use of the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control) process. Key lean practices adopted by NSW to improve project success include the achievability of targets for programme delivery based on the capability of the project approvals process, improvement in supplier scope management and the use of metrics as evidence to influence change.
The application of the findings was informative to all attendees, as striving for the successful delivery of projects according to cost, time, resource and quality constraints remains a key priority for all organisations.
The presentation can be viewed on the Resources page of the APM website although a copy has been included in this article below.