Thames Tideway tunnel beneath central London

Published: 8 Oct 2019

Hussain Ali, CQP MCQI, Quality Lead at Tideway reveals why the Tideway quality team enforces a collaborative working approach.

Henry Ford once said that “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” Ford understood the importance of collaboration and how it is the basis of a successful delivery of a project. At Tideway, there are three quality teams collaborating and working together as one. 

They are known as the Tideway Alliance Quality Group (TAQG). TAQG is made up of three main works contractors: BMB Joint Venture (Bam Nuttall/Morgan Sindall/Balfour Beatty), FLo Joint Venture (Ferrovial/Laing O’Rourke) and CVB Joint Venture (Costain/Vinvi/Bachy), as well as the Tideway programme and delivery quality team. 

A collaborative working approach with the assurance function within the main works delivery partners has helped to identify where confidence was required on the implementation of plans, policies and processes.

The results of the assessments and audits help the delivery teams to identify areas of specific need and improvement.

TAQG devised a structure of first, second and third lines of defence measures. These measures are built into the three delivery partner systems. The idea is to progress an original business culture from being reliant on audit and surveillance towards self-assessment and self-assurance.

TAQG is responsible for ensuring that the delivery partners have adequate measures in place. These measures have included: an EFQM based business improvement assessment model, which enables reviews of contract performance; governance must do audits, where an annual review is undertaken to ascertain whether mandatory requirements are being applied on that specific section of the programme works; and governance gates audits, a gate ‘holding’ process is implemented within the delivery partner schemes whereby gates are a mandatory requirement of governance.

The delivery partners implement continuous improvement by utilising the corporate assessment tools available to them and are supported by Tideway Improvement Leads. Tideway encourage the utilisation of delivery partner improvement initiatives. Through the alliance quality forums, the team review the capability and experience of assessors making recommendations for improvement plans.

The results of the assessments and audits help the delivery teams to identify areas of specific need and improvement. Plans are developed with appropriate training to provide support to continuous improvement initiatives, which include:

  • Lessons learned events across the three delivery schemes
  • Lean techniques
  • Root cause analysis and root cause of excellence
  • Inspection and test planning
  • Quality risk reviews
  • Behavioural quality
  • Collaborative working and planning.

The Tideway Quality Dashboard

The Tideway Alliance quality team is made up of Chartered Quality Professionals. Their skills are frequently called upon to help improvement planning and discussion across the Tideway programme. Tideway have been active in the Get It Right Initiative to help the enhancement of quality improvement in the industry. 

In 2018, Tideway introduced the Tideway Quality Dashboard based on data collected from all three delivery partners. The dashboard portrays a mix of leading and lagging indicators. It is presented and discussed at both Tideway quality meetings and delivery leadership meetings. Leadership discussions have included the need to increase the frequency of quality risk reviews, root cause analysis and collaborative planning. 

There is a focus on building and maintaining effective relationships with the organisation’s hierarchical leaders and natural influencers even though the Tideway quality team is a professionally qualified, confident and determined group. Tideway Programme Assurance Manager, Rob Ayres, is the key contact with the main Tideway leadership team to ensure quality and improvement remain on the agenda of the most influential business discussions. 

TAQG leads a wider group of approximately 50 project-based quality and systems managers across the whole Tideway programme team. They convene monthly quality group meetings to inform, educate, inspire and share knowledge sharing and learning across the whole Tideway Programme.

The Tideway quality team are continuing to harness and build on the great work that propelled one of their supply chain partners to the final in 2017’s CQI Team of The Year category and winner in 2018.