Working with Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd (HUM) To Embed Project Management with Demonstrable Business Benefit
Founded in 1947, Honda is one of the world’s most successful automotive companies, dedicated to supplying products of the highest quality at a reasonable price for worldwide customer satisfaction. Believing that «technology is a means to serving people«, the company’s inherent love of challenge and innovation has in recent years operated in a business environment marked by significant changes in the global economy and market structure as well as acceleration of environmental initiatives on a global basis. Since 1989 Honda’s Swindon manufacturing plant has been responsible for critical product output for the European market, currently producing approximately 600 cars every day. Having recognised the need to further streamline that output with a coherent and company-specific project management methodology portfolio, HUM identified Wellingtone to roll out the standardisation and training needed to embed a new era of project management techniques within the company’s ethos.
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“When we consulted with Wellingtone they showed us that they could assist in bringing all of the different elements of our project management approach together into a two day training programme that would suit our strategy.»
Nick Mackey – Learning & Development, HUM
The Background: Developing Coherent Techniques to Improve Lean Outputs
Nick Mackey from the Training and Development (T&D) Team at HUM, recalls the challenges the company faced that led him to engage Wellingtone’s services. «In 2011 the T&D team was quite small«. «Despite that, we had a number of initiatives we were planning to do with improving performance. Entire sections of our teams are focused on engineering, others are involved in IT, cost initiatives, basic stability and structural projects, so we have huge amounts of logistical work that have to be planned and managed effectively. At that time we felt that there was a need for some consistency in our approach to bring those isolated project pockets together.»
The Challenge: Developing a Coherent Yet Flexible Approach to Fit HUM’s Working Ethos
Typically for a company dedicated to innovation and the power of dreams, the T&D team believed that out-of-the box methodologies and documentation did not have the capacity to match HUM’s working practices effectively. «We didn’t want to go down prescribed PRINCE2 route as we felt it was a little technical and dry for us» says Nick. «When we consulted with Wellingtone they showed us that they could assist in bringing all of the different elements of our project management approach together into a two day training programme that would suit our strategy.
With their help we contacted a number of people from around the company and brought them together to compare their PM approaches. There was some consistency there already, but we needed to build on that to make the PM model feel like it was by Honda for Honda.»
The Approach: Internalising Standardised Procedures with a Sound Business Case
Wellingtone initially worked with HUM to develop and deliver new standardised documentation via a two day training course. «Wellingtone helped us to get hold of some good documents that were already being used in pockets of the business, but essentially we wanted to encourage delegates on the course to use our standardised documents for greater consistency of approach – especially in the scoping and planning phases» explains Nick. «At our end, supported by Wellingtone, we created a delegate questionnaire to establish previous/current PM experience, so that we could ascertain staff’s entry level in this area that has enabled us to develop a baseline for measuring the impact and cost benefits of the PM approach we’re implementing. For example, next year we’re entering into a 24 month, £50M pound project, and creating the baseline against which we can assess skills progression, which in turn means that we can establish the business case for allocating staff to the training. Wellingtone has helped us to structure the T&D programme so that we can start to understand the correlation between training benefits and project outcomes. The statistics will become more quantitative as time goes on and we gather more data, but already the trends are clear and we can see what people might be doing that they haven’t done before, and the benefits of that to the business.»
The Result: Clear Correlations between PM Training and Business Benefits
Already, HUM is working to translate early quantitative results of Wellingtone’s T&D input. «We have trained 55 people so far, who are cumulatively responsible for more than £95M of project investment» Nick says, «so we’re already confident that we’re using our investment in Wellingtone well. Facilitating training attendance can be tricky in a lean environment.
But being a large organisation that reports to Japan, over the years there has been a stream of project work to do with IT, new models and the like, and that is developing an inherent awareness that we are pioneering some amazing projects. By taking the best of our working practices and marrying those with best practice in the PM world, we can ensure that we have a common understanding and transferred knowledge across the business.»
Adding Value: A Flexible Approach from a Skilled and Transparent Supplier
«Looking to the immediate future, HUM is focusing on one particular part of the business to get stakeholder engagement at the top level«. «Wellingtone is helping with that by suggesting practical strategies to achieve that crucial buy-in«, says Nick. «They are also adding value with training in MS Project, to align what our staff are learning with their input into our enterprise management systems. Wellingtone have been very patient with us – especially in tweaking and changing materials so that they use our specific language and guidelines. They’re willing to respond to our specific and numerous requirements. The two day course can now probably be covered in a day and a half thanks to their input as the project has progressed. They have even provided some of the training hardware we needed and many of the documents are better than those currently used in my opinion! The logistics and costings have been transparent and realistic. I would speak very positively of the relationship we’ve built with them.»
Adding Value: A Flexible Approach from a Skilled and Transparent Supplier
«At the moment approximately 50 people are waiting for training and they have varying PM responsibilities and experience» Nick explains. «What we’re aiming for is to establish a strong project team structure in the business, so that the different departments (IT, engineering, new models etc.) can be governed by a steering group to achieve a greater understanding and consistency across our projects and make sure that we’re using the best of what emerges from our parent company in Japan. Wellingtone is very open to changing the process at any point, and it’s likely that we may adjust our approach as we continue to learn what works well for us and what doesn’t. We know that they will support us in that. Currently we’re tackling the process group by group, and looking for those high level sponsors to drive the process forward.»
Vince Hines, Managing Director of Wellingtone, echoes these positive sentiments. «To see a T&D department embracing new PM techniques to such a comprehensive and quantified level is a great pleasure for me» he says. «Our work with them represents a real opportunity for them to review who is running projects, the value of the projects, the value of training engagement and how to create a model for training going forward. In my view the training we have delivered has really sparked a recognition of the benefits of good PM in business. The process has sparked a valuable internal debate as to the value of moving from the heavy document driven approach to a modern PM approach. Everyone at Wellingtone is proud and delighted to be part of a T&D based PM programme that represents a flagship organisational development for HUM.»
To Learn more about Honda, visit https://www.honda.co.uk/