Infrastructure – Is Excellence What You’re Seeing?

The need to deliver maximum value from every investment in infrastructure brings the issue of performance management into sharp focus.
The key question for an era where budgets are tight and performance targets are high, is whether ‘good’ is any longer good enough? And if excellence is what’s needed, what does this look like, how is it ensured and how is it implemented to benefit both customers and contractors, not just one or the other.

Excellent performance management is comprehensive and integrated; otherwise, the weakest link in the project delivery chain risks undermining the project outcomes and value.

Frameworks are rightly seen as a positive way forward, providing the space and the incentive for contractors to invest in performance management throughout the supply chain. But nothing is guaranteed unless there are detailed and specific commitments that apply at every level – from the overall framework to individual project performance plans.

The challenge for contractors is to have a credible and compelling story to explain how they manage the following:

  • The skills and knowledge of the supply chain to ensure the best and most appropriate expertise is applied to every project.
  • Communications to trigger early intervention and prevent re-occurrence should performance issues arise.
  • The creation of a collaborative learning culture that continuously seeks to improve and innovate.
  • Detailed and open reporting of performance against agreed KPIs.

Start as you mean to go on

Setting off on the right foot by establishing the highest expectations from day one of mobilisation is critical. This is the time for an open and collaborative discussion that shares expectations and concerns, and which establishes the KPIs that will be tracked at project and framework levels.

Accountability needs to be identified, understood and shared. Overall ownership of performance needs to be assigned (normally to a framework manager) and all partners must be clear about how performance will be monitored and measured. Accountabilities must also flow through individual performance management to ensure that everyone remains focused on the critical framework objectives.

Balanced scorecards and data dashboards are particularly effective when there is a need to develop a joined-up approach to multi-faceted performance management. Performance should not be prioritised in one area to the detriment of other aspects of project delivery.

Continuous improvement should be a way of working – integrated and embedded into all framework activities. Excellence should extend to other critical elements such as innovation, environmental management, and community engagement.

Long-term value and reduced lifetime asset costs are too important to be left to chance. It’s time for performance management of infrastructure projects to step up to the challenge.

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