In 2018, Independent Project Analysis (IPA) completed a baseline benchmarking evaluation of a European energy company’s regional site and sustaining capital (SSC) portfolio. As is common with sustaining capital organizations that benchmark with IPA for the first time, the evaluation highlighted several gaps that the system needed to address in order to improve project performance. Convinced of the case for change, the project organization began implementing some of IPA’s recommendations, and soon decided to take these initiatives a step further by developing and instituting a Continuous Improvement Program. The client recognized the magnitude of this initiative and engaged IPA for support to leverage our SSC project system expertise combined with our strong understanding of the client’s current state.
IPA facilitated a multi-day interactive workshop with the client’s Continuous Improvement Team (CIT) to develop an implementation strategy for a specific and measurable Continuous Improvement Program. The workshop was designed to engage and align stakeholders around a common understanding of continuous improvement in order to jointly develop a set of prioritized improvement initiatives tied to a comprehensive set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Key workshop activities included:
- Developing a well-articulated vision of the project organization’s future state. Any change or improvement initiative must be tailored to a company’s specific needs and objectives. Not only is a clear vision an essential foundation for change, it also promotes stakeholder alignment and motivation around that change.
- Developing a set of KPIs that are aligned with the vision. The ability to measure progress is key to goal attainment and provides a great motivator for stakeholders involved in long-term change efforts. IPA drew from its data-derived knowledge of project Best Practices to jointly create a set of SMART KPIs.
- Prioritizing improvement initiatives to create a realistic, efficient, and manageable plan. Large scale change initiatives often fail because organizations try to take on too much. It was critical for the change team to align on where to focus first by evaluating which areas would have the most meaningful effect on the desired future state.
- Understanding constraints that may prevent the project organization from achieving its vision. Even a single constraint, such as resource limitations or pre-existing policies, may limit how well a change effort is adopted, implemented, or accepted by stakeholders. After identifying all potential constraints, the team developed appropriate mitigation tactics to manage these constraints. IPA further enriched this discussion by providing lessons learned and insights from other industry sites that faced similar constraints, and what they did to successfully overcome these challenges.
Because people are at the center of project development, and leading change efforts, IPA supplemented this exercise with a quantitative assessment of the client’s SSC resource pool to determine whether resource limitations posed any risks to improvement goals, and to ensure the path forward aligned with resource availability.
The workshop resulted in a clear path forward for the CIT with prioritized improvement initiatives targeting both short- and long-term timeframes, tied to a comprehensive set of KPIs. This included a report summarizing the activities and outputs of the multi-day workshop, a KPI tracking and measurement spreadsheet, and a separate deliverable detailing the resource assessment findings and implications of those findings for performance initiatives. The participatory nature of the workshop ensured key stakeholders were bought into the path forward and dedicated to supporting the CIT and the journey toward continuous improvement.
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*Case study by Katya Petrochenkov, IPA Senior Research Analyst
 SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound