Company: TeamwareCustomer: Taylor WoodrowSubmitted by: MCC InternationalDate: July 2000Technology is one of the least visible aspects of the construction industry. Public perception of today’s complex building projects is dominated by high-tech construction kit.
But the unseen IT infrastructure that underpins the processes of some projects, from inception to completion, is equally important.Taylor Woodrow plc, the international developer, is a leader in providing housing, property and value added construction expertise across a wide range of markets. Its construction company has a well-established reputation for applying advanced technology to every facet of its business, from research and development through to the completion of the construction itself.Always considered a top quality name in the construction arena, it is now in the midst of a drive to further improve its operations through the Business Excellence Model originated by the European Foundation for Quality Management. This has refocused the company on its internal and external processes and the ways in which it can refine, improve and develop them.In 1998, it was awarded the contract to build a major new hospital for Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme.
The project represents a major opportunity for the company to develop a blueprint for processes involved with PFI projects and it is taking this opportunity to concentrate, in particular, on the briefing and design development phases.With this in mind, Taylor Woodrow Construction decided to invest in an intelligent process improvement system that would enable it to develop process models, attach data and documents to each activity and publish them on their Intranet In summer 1999, it selected Teamware’s comprehensive process modelling software, ProcessWise WorkBench, for the purpose.According to Derek Wilson, Construction Agent for United Healthcare, the PFI consortium for the Bromley hospital contract, the company had previously managed with legacy day-to-day software.”In the past we used various applications that allowed us to create process maps, but without the benefit of a logic and database infrastructure behind them,” he says. “We decided to go with a specialist software package that would be flexible, whilst providing suitable, powerful tools necessary to understand, document, improve and communicate our processes.”Wilson says the £155 million Bromley hospital project has been the ideal opportunity for Taylor Woodrow Construction to examine the processes involved in the briefing, and design development stages and assess how they can be improved.
Ultimately, the supporting software will help us to communicate cultural as well as technical changes in these processes.”Taking Bromley as a case study, we are using ProcessWise WorkBench to map our existing processes,” he explains. “The graphics are very powerful. They readily facilitate analysis and provide the ideal means of communicating improvements for implementation on future projects.”Teamware’s software met several key requirements. Not only was it powerful enough to provide an intelligent process improvement infrastructure but it was also highly intuitive and the graphical user interface made it very user-friendly.
“We attended a two day course in the software and were very encouraged by its performance,” says Wilson. “We were surprised how quickly we were able to really stretch it. The graphics are fully customisable whilst being purpose-designed for creating process maps and the software also met our criteria for being able to attach supporting information to each of the activities.Initially, two ‘super users’ have been provided with ProcessWise Workbench on their laptops. According to Wilson, the software is accessible and appealing without having a specialist technical appearance, making it easy for the users to become acquainted with it and start exploiting its capabilities.More important still, colleagues who receive the process maps generated by the software will also find them easy to understand, rather than complex and off-putting.
And the images and attachments can be published on the Intranet or transmitted by e-mail without the recipient needing to load ProcessWise Workbench on their own PC.”The first users are certainly learning as they go,” says Wilson. “But deployment has been relatively simple so far, with no problems. The specialist version allows them to create and adjust Meta models that they can then export to secondary users or colleagues who are less technically advanced in the use of the software.”Initial process improvements are already being fed through to the company. Wilson expects the pilot study to be completed during 2000 with full implementation of their findings taking place thereafter at which stage Taylor Woodrow will start to reap the real business benefits of its investment in process management software.
“As a company, we’re committed to the pursuit of business excellence, and in our drive for continuous improvement we have become process-driven,” says Wilson. It would be much more difficult to fully achieve our goals without using software of this kind.”He says that ProcessWise Workbench will help Taylor Woodrow Construction to facilitate the business improvements the company aspires to. This also involves overcoming traditional problems associated with any highly specialised profession where the people who actually perform key activities know what they are doing, but often find it difficult to communicate this to their colleagues.”ProcessWise Workbench allows us to give a good, graphical, powerful representation of how we do things,” says Wilson.”It will change the way our people work, allowing them to think in terms of processes rather than procedures, and then to communicate those processes to their colleagues.
Those colleagues will be able to see and understand how somebody in another section or stage of the project evolution works. And the result should be a shared understanding of what the company does, and how.”Cultural changes aside, Wilson also expects the software to deliver some important technical benefits. For example, it will allow the company to simulate processes and analyse their potential impact without experimenting on live data.”Basically, it will help us to apply time and resources to our processes, make adjustments and watch the benefits as they accrue,” he says. And the major benefit is likely to be the continued delivery of excellence in the intensely competitive construction industry.