Programme Recovery for our Nuclear client

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A global leader in the nuclear industry initially engaged M|P to support them with recovering their flagship delivery programme for the Fukushima Daiichi decommissioning. The client was growing in size but struggling to manage costs. Additionally, existing processes and systems were unable to cope with the increase in scale required by this massive project.
MI-GSO | PCUBED partnered with the client to provide a wide range of services across their business beyond Programme Recovery extending to Programme Mobilisation, Programme and Project Delivery, PMO Setup and Lean Innovation capability enhancement. Overall, the team has helped the client improve direct margin in a year, their on-time delivery performance by 65%, facilitated soft savings valued at roughly 5% of the client’s annual revenue, and significantly matured their internal project management capabilities.

Our client provides cutting edge remote handling capabilities and is a recognised world leader in nuclear decommissioning. They were contracted to support the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant investigation and decommissioning programme in Japan. Their experience was essential to the investigation inside the reactor cores, assessing the damage and the state of the fuel and fuel debris ahead of retrieval thereof. From investigation to full scale fuel debris retrieval, the overall programmes of work are expected to take approximately 10 years. 

The Business Challenge

As highlighted in the introduction the client has undergone a period of significant growth, scaling 400% over a 5-year period in terms of FTE and revenue, while struggling to manage costs. As a result, business processes and systems are not optimised for the increased scale. 

They have a challenging and demanding stakeholder base, including both Japanese customers and UK and Japanese government stakeholders. The cultural diversity of the client base brings further challenges as it requires different communication and change management approaches to ensure delivery success.

Programme Recovery

Since the programme’s inception in 2016, our client had continually experienced significant delivery challenges, repeatedly failed to meet milestone deadlines, and could not enact effective project and programme management. In addition, the client was missing a delivery focused approach. 

Upon engagement we worked with the client team to create a short-term programme recovery roadmap. Initially the team focused on consolidating the existing and different project schedules to create a dependency-mapped, integrated master schedule at the programme level. This roadmap provided the client the ability to help manage demand and capacity across the business, monitor performance, and rapidly re-direct where required.

Implementing effective programme controls through enhanced schedule management improved the team’s overall programme management practices and ultimately timely delivery. The team successfully delivered all project milestones on time and budget, even with the added challenges presented by COVID-19.

Programme Mobilisation

The second challenge faced was in mobilising a key strategic delivery programme due to uncertain customer requirements. Programme objectives from the end customer were not clearly defined and reflected in an unrealistic timescale for requested delivery. 

We developed an adaptive Programme Roadmap that encompassed the customer’s broader requirements and set out the framework to achieve this. The roadmap included an Agile workstream to encourage swift and flexible problem solving, emphasising understanding and leveraging Lessons Learned. 

The adaptive roadmap introduced a formal change control process to manage customer requests; a critical scope control element missing from previous client programmes and contracts. With a solid footing for mobilisation, the client was able to generate robust schedules, proactively manage resource demand and capacity, as well as execute the full RAID suite.

This enabled the client to adopt a ‘Leading the charge’ mindset when engaging the customer. The display of strong programme leadership earned the client an improved level of trust and engagement from their customer in return.

Programme and Project Delivery Excellence

Across numerous programmes and various business units, the client encountered challenges across manufacturing delivery from poor procedural adherence. Combined with inconsistent decision making, projects realised delays across schedules as reworking became necessary on critical activities. Sub-assemblies from suppliers were often delivered late or incomplete. With no stringent stock control process the problem was further amplified. Once COVID-19 measures were introduced, restrictions were placed on the assembly facility. Management of issues was inconsistent, and corresponding actions insufficiently monitored.

To combat, the team introduced a governance framework to manage project progress and technical specialist meetings. Actions were taken to restructure the programme schedule and reassign key resources to certain locations to focus the team around key deliverable completion. 

Buy-in from the client’s senior management was obtained to introduce an incentive agreement of overtime and a temporary 6-day working week. These measures saw an improved client focus on problem solving and recovery of the scheduled delays. Issues are now escalated promptly and appropriately to be resolved effectively. A significantly higher volume of tasks are now delivered on time due to increased efficiency and productivity.

Programme Management Office Setup

To ensure the improved programme and project management capabilities are supported with suitable leading practice processes and guidance material, we assisted the design and mobilisation of a Programme Management Office.

Through a customer-centric approach, we facilitated a range of workshops to identify the PMO creation requirements and tailor the set-up and structure to complement the client’s business needs. This light-touch approach enabled us to provide guidance on industry best practice, while empowering the client to make the important decisions themselves.

Lean Start-Up Improvement Programme

We were asked to design and lead the improvement initiatives to transform the client’s business outside of the PPM capability. Using our Lean Innovation methodology, we deployed a blended agile & lean start-up framework to achieve the client’s ambitious transformative goals, leveraging a proven, data-driven, and people centric approach. 

We worked with the client team to identify key failure modes and the root causes for issues across their business. We leveraged the client team’s knowledge to identify the most impactful improvement initiatives. The transformative improvements were managed via an Agile PI planning and sprint methodology, led by us. 

Leveraging this approach helped to reduce the end-to-end process time of a core business process by 63%, improved design quality metrics by up to 97%, and delivered soft savings valued at ~4-5% of the total business annual revenue.  

Read the full case study here.

Summary

Deploying a variety of tailored services, we significantly helped this world leading nuclear decommissioning client to mature business processes, providing a foundation to support its enhanced and continued growth. We introduced effective programme controls, improved timely delivery to recover a struggling delivery programme and successfully mobilised a key strategic programme to meet the client’s end customer requirements. In addition, forming and developing PMO capabilities with our Lean Innovation framework has improved process control and capabilities.

As a result, the business revenue and direct margins increased by an order of magnitude, on-time delivery performance increased by over 65% and delivered soft savings worth ~5% of the annual client revenue. The quality of programme and project management delivery has placed this client in a position to continue growing while managing costs and realising improved margins on a global scale.

James Louch

James Louch

Senior Principal Consultant 
@ MI-GSO | PCUBED UK

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