in full flow

driving productivity through improved performance in network services

While our client, a leading utility, was performing well across regulatory KPIs, they knew they needed to increase productivity and reduce costs to continue leading their industry. The water & wastewater division had implemented improvements, but despite recently rolling out a ‘best in class’ mobile workforce management IT platform, it was failing to achieve productivity targets and efficiency gains. We were engaged to help boost productivity in water & wastewater network services.

our approach

In the discovery phase, we formed a joint consultant/client team to pinpoint best practices and limitations. Using a ‘360-degree analysis methodology’, we found that whilst actual repair and operational maintenance jobs were being done well, on the ground the overall people/process/data system had serious shortcomings, with constantly shifting priorities, few robust management processes, and no structured learning loops between departments to drive continuous improvement.

Our findings were distilled into a multimillion pound business case and governance model for change. The proposed changes focused on productivity gains from a hard, practical focus on job planning, scheduling and field workforce utilisation, along with softer qualitative measures.

To drive continuous improvement, we combined two best practice approaches enabling the business to visually report, measure and manage business performance. Then, to ensure alignment across management, we used balanced scorecards developed from divisional strategy maps.

To enable accelerated change delivery, we also designed and implemented an approach that transferred capability to the frontline through team performance hubs, which then became proof-of-concept pilots delivered by the frontline teams.

We soon realised that current reporting and management information was not fit for purpose, so we worked with colleagues from across IS, Analytics and Operations to get the right data, displayed in the right way, to the right people, at the right time, to help drive performance with their teams. To ensure we were on track, we also oversaw a rigorous benefits tracking methodology which enabled direct comparison between the areas operating old and new practices.

We supported roll out across the network, transferring best practice performance management capabilities in lean and operational excellence through bespoke management training and coaching. Finally, we implemented a tailored change maturity and sustainability process to hardwire changes at every level.

our insights

Strategy mapping at the directorate level helped cut through the reporting noise (literally hundreds of reports existed), enabled managers to agree who should own which KPIs and highlighted areas of common challenges that were ripe for consolidating efforts e.g. H&S standard setting and Standard Operating Procedure development.

Restructured KPI reporting gave leaders a much tighter grip on performance, whilst focused review meetings illuminated several, unexpected, areas of benefit e.g. tighter Opex-Capex recharging and reduced claims from more accurate job recording and photos.

The Team Hub meetings became natural coaching and best practice sharing forums where colleagues learned how they could improve performance by working differently and agreeing revised standards of work.

the results

Better collaboration and coordination between central support and field teams drove significant performance improvements. For example, true utilisation (time on the tools) was improved by around 23% by reducing average weekly ‘en-route’ and first job times as well as reducing declined jobs. Slightly unexpectedly, there was an immediate benefit of over £ ½m from retrospective job data error correction relating to Capex.

The visual management of improvements in health & safety KPIs and upskilling/job quality were cited in frontline engagement surveys as benefits across all impacted sites and depot teams.