Maturity Assessments for Project Controls

Chris Taylor
For the UK to achieve ambitions of becoming a leading nuclear energy nation, construction project efficiency is vital.

The stakes are high for both government and nuclear energy industry participants, if nuclear power is to successfully play a larger role in the UK low-carbon energy mix. Capital projects, whether new build, enhancements or decommissioning, present an opportunity to maximise investment, maintain and raise performance, and benefit from lessons learned.

Faithful+Gould's unique assessment tool efficiently assesses the maturity of an organisation's project controls and project management capability, recommending best practice improvements.

The assessment exercise is often undertaken to support investment in the business case, checking whether the practices in place are sufficiently robust to deliver with excellence. Alternatively, the assessment is carried out when a major project commences, as this will provide a firm foundation for going forward. However, it's never too late to check the health of a project and to see improvements: we have successfully carried out useful reviews mid-project.

The assessment exercise is often undertaken to support investment in the business case, checking whether the practices in place are sufficiently robust to deliver with excellence. 

The aim is to measure an organisation's current performance against that of a well-performing mature organisation, using universal maturity assessment scale levels. About 30 key best practices are reviewed – organisations that deliver projects well are usually doing most of these. Organisations that are struggling are typically not achieving many of these.

The key best practices are organised around a range of project controls and project management domains, including:

  • Change management
  • Risk management
  • Cost management
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Compliance
  • Resource planning
  • Skills availability

The evaluation stage begins with a diagnostics workshop, testing for the presence and implementation of best practice and for organisational maturity. This assesses the extent to which excellence is ingrained across the organisation, and identifies best practice gaps. The assessment findings are used to devise very specific, focused actions that develop the maturity of the project controls model, identifying specific cost and schedule benefits associated with the incremental steps. We then help our client develop a plan for implementing improvement. Solutions range from quick fixes to changes that may take several years to implement. Most benefits are obtained in the first six months, however.

Maturity of the Project Controls Model

Our team will help the client put the plan into action, performing periodic progress analyses at agreed intervals. The aim is to embed the new best practices in to the business culture, while ensuring alignment with strategic planning and operational excellence. Finally, we repeat the maturity assessment to review its success and measure the improvements.

Benefits include:

  • Quick and relatively inexpensive process
  • Demonstrates, measures and improves best practice
  • Identifies opportunities that may have been overlooked
  • Results in an improvement plan with structured schedule
  • Supports delivery where the team is less experienced

As the sector transitions from operation, reactor life extension, decommissioning and clean-up towards significant new generation, we anticipate that maturity assessments will play an important role in optimal new build delivery. The UK's lack of recent major nuclear energy project experience leaves its project management and project controls processes vulnerable. A maturity assessment establishes a baseline and maps the onward journey.

We have successfully supported clients with project management and commercial services leadership on challenging projects in Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East, some of which have included a maturity assessment.

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