A One Day Programming Workshop

The Challenge

Working with the delivery team to identify £1 million of savings and a 20% time reduction on a 2 year Inner Relief Road project by facilitating a Programming Workshop.

The project was an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) inner city ring road for a city council valued at approximately £40 million, of which £33 million was allocated for construction over a two year period.

The design had been developed in-house by the council, but with substantial input from the Contractor, comprising five team members, including a planner, who had been based in the council design offices. This had resulted in design savings through a process of ‘optioneering’.

Three months into the construction phase the contractual Completion Date was going back a week every week due to access problems costing the Employer approximately £50,000 per week in site overheads. Jon’s help was enlisted to try and stem this by holding a strategic project planning workshop.



The Solution

The Contractor approached Jon to run a workshop. The planner had developed the original programme by focussing on work type so, in consultation with him, it was decided to focus more on geographical areas as looking at the programme differently would potentially lead to more creative ideas and solutions.

Since the project was already established, Jon needed to create a safe workshop environment conducive to sharing ideas and not one of blame culture. Twenty five plus participants attended the workshop devised so that all the different parties could gain understanding and take ownership of the work and programme in their sections. As an experienced facilitator, Jon allowed the group to challenge assumptions and sequences in the currect programme, then explore new methods of working to identify how and where the group could collectively save 20 weeks of construction time on the current programme.

The delegates enjoyed the freedom of evaluating the project whilst it was still active, rather than at the close when little can be done to influence the outcome. During the brainstorming phase, 138 different ideas emerged, many of which were investigated further to see which provided the most scope for innovation and implemtation. 

The Result

The results from the workshop are illustrated in the diagram below :

Sections Time off critical path before workshop Pessimistic Estimate of Savings Optimistic Estimate of Savings
1 & 2 6 to 8 weeks 4 weeks 9 weeks
3 1 week 1 week 13 weeks
4 0 weeks 4 weeks 26 weeks
General to whole site Not applicable 2 weeks 6 weeks


Following the workshop, these ideas were developed over a six week period and incorporated into the programme by the planner. At the end of this development phase, 12 weeks had been taken off the duration of the programme.

In terms of cost savings, whilst there was an outlay for the workshop of £7,000, which includes the cost people being off-site for the day, at least 12 weeks at a cost of £50,000 per week was saved or £600,000 in total. This equates to a return on investment of over 8500%!

Indeed, time savings subsequently rose to 20 weeks - equal to £1 million in cost - as a result of yet more ideas coming from the construction team to the planners. This would not have happened had the wider team not become more engaged in the planning process through the workshop.