Curzon helps Highways England accelerate transformation

17 June 2021 3 min. read

A project for Highways England carried out by Curzon Consulting has been lauded by the 2021 MCA Awards. The firm’s work for the Project Performance Accelerator saw it deliver outputs to more than 1,000 of Highways England’s staff.

Every year, the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) hosts an award ceremony to recognise the nation’s best consulting firms, projects and consultants. After a record number of entries were submitted for the 2021 edition, the UK consulting industry’s representative body announced the final short-list for its top prizes.

Among the 32 consulting firms to be given nods by the short-list was Curzon Consulting, which was named as being in the running for two prizes. This includes a nomination for the Commercial Excellence award due to its work with AIG, as well as one for the People award, following a successful engagement with Highways England.

Curzon helps Highways England accelerate transformation

Highways England is the government-owned company charged with operating, maintaining and improving England's motorways and major A roads. The organisation has been looking to modernise its operations in recent years, handing out a series of contracts to consulting firms to help achieve that. In the case of Curzon, the firm was engaged to enhance Highways England’s delivery capabilities, via a project performance accelerator.

Throughout the organisation, Highways England’s three main Major Project programmes account for 80 projects worth more than £23 billion, each being delivered by a supply chain or contractor led by a Project Management team. Project Performance Accelerator (PPA) was designed to develop and implement a delivery mechanism for this overarching Business Transformation Programme, addressing inconsistent levels of capability throughout HE’s Project Management community and developing highly skilled project delivery teams.

According to a statement on Curzon’s website, PPA leader Steph Illingworth engaged consultants from Curzon to help interpret and structure her vision of the PPA Programme into clear deliverables, shaping the fundamentals. By focusing on performance management, capability development, project control capability and enhancing commercial acumen, this resulted in the creation of two outputs to push for cultural change in the organisation.

First, a Digital Project Management Guidebook was constructed, before an immersive learning experience was designed to disrupt the way programmes were delivered by the PPA. Both outputs were crafted around the project lifecycle of typical Highways England infrastructure projects, set to be delivered in-person over a period of 18 months. Cohorts were selected to receive a tailored experience, improve project team maturity, and provide a solid foundation for capability uplift to achieve clear learning outcomes and benefits.

In the end, the consulting team interpreted the client’s vision into a clear pathway, supporting and enhancing the design of the two outputs, to help the PPA become one of the most successful transformation project delivered in Highways England. While the Digital Project Management Guidebook launched in August 2020 via four interactive webinars to around 300 employees, it has now been received by over 1,000 unique viewers. At the same time, over 5,049 hours of remote learning have been received by 100 staff through nine project teams, enhancing teams’ capability with a combined portfolio value greater than £3.3 billion.