The Managed Service Approach: Changing Programme Resourcing Mindsets

Adam Brooks
Historically, clients who have significant programmes or large strategic projects have used construction consultants in the same way as temporary agencies, building capability or filling gaps in project controls delivery teams as they arise.

This staff augmentation approach revolves around engaging consultants on a headcount basis with little regard to the actual outputs and service required or finding the most effective way of delivering a service. This approach has a number of inherent flaws, which clients are now seeking to resolve by a more managed approach, that sits midway between the extremes of total service outsourcing or conversion of contractors for a total insourcing model. The managed service Faithful+Gould has developed with some key clients involves an owners team taking most of the key management roles as well as having a modest technical head count, whilst the supply chain provides the balance of the capability including some leadership, management, reach back and back office support.

Establishing a Managed Service

One of the first activities of our managed service offering is to conduct a best practice implementation analysis which highlights any gaps or vulnerabilities in the project controls provision. In addition, we do a maturity analysis to determine how embedded best practice is in the organisation and the extent to which it has become part of the delivery culture. These analyses constitute an initial implementation and maturity dataset against which a development plan can be established, and improvement progress can be measured.

The managed service approach should then construct a leadership and management team from across the client and supply chain. The future requirements in the short, medium and long term are then assessed against forward work plans, maintenance and capital plans. The project controls functions and team structures are then reviewed, shaped and sized to align with the anticipated work within the programme’s portfolio and to address the issues arising out of the maturity and implementation analyses.

Secondment/call off agreement challenges

Where frameworks are operated in an augmentation model, regardless of intent, more often than not positions arise with little warning, and candidates are required as soon as possible. This is an ongoing challenge for the supply chain and often provides the client with the most available resource rather than the best athlete. Similarly, over qualified or over experienced resources may end up being appointed into undemanding roles and ultimately the client ends up with a less than perfect solution. What clients are saying to us is that they wish to move away from this model, and embrace a managed service approach that will:

  • reduce churn
  • provide a more consistent service
  • build client/owner knowledge
  • help with succession planning
  • help release desk spaces
  • provide reach back and new ideas
  • requires less direct management by the client

Added Flexibility

When executed as a permanent staff model by balanced teams, services can be delivered on a full-time, part-time, short-term or ad-hoc basis, to precisely suit the actual need, and the responsibility for managing this flexibility sits with the consultant organisation.

In addition, services can be delivered at the clients’ offices or sites in the usual manner, or with the help of modern communication and collaboration tools, the managed service can be offered securely from the consultants own offices, handing back desk space to the client.

Benefits of a Managed Service

A managed service approach to resourcing has direct and indirect quality benefits:

  • Reduces the disruption of churn and removes services gaps through managed handovers
  • Provides a flexible basis to respond to emergent work
  • Includes a back office supporting management, systems and knowledge sharing
  • Provides greater resource flexibility to address the priorities of the business
  • Greater confidence in the supply chain to recruit and invest in staff development
  • Provides a basis and platform for continuous improvement
  • Delivers a lower total cost of service through flexibility and resource optimisation
  • Provides opportunities to share commercial risk
  • Joint accountability for overall performance
  • Improved project and programme delivery

The indirect benefits manifest themselves in the development of project controls, staff, knowledge retention and the level of services.

In Summary

Where services are bought by the hour and the driver is the lowest hourly rate, there are really no winners. Our experience shows that, typically with this model, the supply chain is only motivated to sell more hours to maximise the fixed returns.  Experience shows us that using a flexible blended managed service will optimise resources and produce balanced teams to provide an ultimately lower cost service, shaped precisely to meet a client’s needs.

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