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Solving the deliverability challenge

Nick Roberts | 03 Jul 2015 | Comments

Solving the deliverability challenge requires a focus on outcomes rather than outputs. Outcome driven engagement between clients and the supply chain throughout the project, but particularly right at the start is critical to success.

Deliverability is a term that is often used to describe one of the most important challenges we face in our industry. But interestingly despite the fact that Google provides you with 561,000 results when you search for the word, none of them actually define what it means.

I’m not going to attempt to create a dictionary definition but I do want to explore some of the common factors we associate with the word and why these are important.

As human beings, we get used to “the way things are” really quickly. But for designers and engineers, the way things are is an opportunity, we should always asking: Could things be better?

It would be too simple to think that deliverability simply means saying what you’re going to do and then doing it, although that’s always good place to start.

There are a number of factors affecting the deliverability of a project: The skills, scale and mobility of resources; limited budgets; time constraints; competing priorities of clients and the supply chain; or the fact that the technology or solution doesn’t currently exist. The answers for dealing with these are all different and we often have to face several of them on each project.

In addition to the ability to deliver from a technical perspective, making sure we don’t lose sight of why we’re delivering these projects in the first place is key. We’re not simply about creating infrastructure for the sake of it, it has to have a purpose, whether improving journeys or providing reliable utility supplies. Putting the outcome at the centre of the challenge rather than the output allows us to solve the deliverability challenge in a completely different way.

I’m not convinced we do this often enough. Regardless of whether you’re looking at outcome or output, good planning underpins every successful project. I do wonder whether we have the proportions right between time and resources spent on planning and design and time spent on delivery.

I’m a huge fan of Sir Brad and what Team Sky have done over the past few years; marginal gains and incremental improvements, relentless attention to detail and challenging how they could do everything better.

I’m keen to have more outcome driven engagement between clients and the supply chain throughout the project, but particularly right at the start. I believe we should be relentlessly dissatisfied with the status quo.

What do I mean by this? It’s not about saying that we can’t be proud of a job well done. However it is saying that we can’t just do things the way we always have done, there has to be some improvements we can make next time. How often do all parties carry out a thorough review of what went well and what lessons can be learnt before we all move on to the next project?

I’m sure that like me, many of you recently watched Sir Bradley Wiggins break the UCI Hour Record at Lee Valley Velopark. I’m a huge fan of Sir Brad and what Team Sky have done over the past few years; marginal gains and incremental improvements, relentless attention to detail and challenging how they could do everything better.

As human beings, we get used to “the way things are” really quickly. But for designers and engineers, the way things are is an opportunity, we should always asking: Could things be better?

Can we deliver our next project better? Let’s not accept that the way things are, let’s challenge it and improve our deliverability. At Atkins that’s certainly our goal, and a relentless dissatisfaction with the status quo is something we should encourage.


This opinion piece was first published on Infrastructure Intelligence and is reproduced here, with permission.