How Aphex enables Jacobs teams to stay lean at scale

“The end to end transparency in Aphex enables us to collaborate and continuously improve performance.”
Liam St Hilaire, Senior Lean Consultant
Project type
Liam St Hilaire
Lean Consultant at Jacobs

Sitting in traffic usually ranks pretty low on things that we’d like to be doing. Luckily for the locals in Northumberland, Highways England and their supply chain are working hard to deliver some major improvements to the speed and safety of motorists in the area.

Big changes require a lot of planning and world leading Senior Lean Consultant, Liam St Hilaire, is guiding the design teams to tackle this ambitious road extension through “Leaner” ways of working.

The A1 scheme in Northumberland is an essential part of the Highways England strategy to deliver the largest investment in a generation throughout England’s motorways and major A-roads. This project alone consists of more than 2,500,000m3 of earthworks, 6 new bridges and 37 new culverts (not to mention the 52 new bat habitats and 36km of hedging!!!). Before the team steamrolls into construction though, they need a great design plan. That’s where Liam and his team come in. Liam is a Senior Lean Consultant on the A1 Morpeth to Ellingham project and is responsible for the successful collaboration and improvement of the Jacobs teams evaluating and designing how to make this bit of road as slick (and safe) as possible.

Finding tools that bring teams together

With no-one on-site (yet), and teams working both from home and office, it was important that Liam had tools that enabled designers to work collaboratively and to remotely contribute to their Last Planner methodology. It was also important for him to select tools that could add value as the project moved into the construction phase and empowered everyone to.  You guessed it… that's where Aphex came in!

Liam had been using Aphex since July 2020 on a previous scheme, the A30 Chiverton to Carland Cross Upgrade for those keeping score at home. With the massive size of the A1 project (did we mention that there are over 100 designers working for at least 1 year) that the tools he needed had to allow teams to plan and track their own work, but also had to be able to bring those plans and project insights together, for the central team. From previous experience, Liam had confidence that Aphex really was the best (and only) way to help his team understand key milestones, progress and performance. It would enable him to pinpoint what worked, what didn’t, and then change course accordingly.

Setting up a process that sticks is easy

Liam set the project team up for success by outlining their planning process clearly. Everyone in the team knows the part they play in planning and tracking their project. For example, once the team update their plans each week Liam uses data from Aphex to show the team evidence-based analysis, “It engrains a collective mindset to improve our way of working and our team’s ownership of work and performance.” This forms a critical part of their weekly production management meetings.

From previous experience, Liam recognised that design teams are not necessarily used to the same type of project control that their construction counterparts live and breathe. At the same time, with design leading into construction and so many people to manage, he knew that securing buy-in and early adoption would be crucial for project performance.

“It engrains a collective mindset to improve our way of working and our team’s ownership of work and performance.”

Liam St Hilaire
Senior Lean Consultant

In the end, once they started using Aphex, the increased visibility and accountability surrounding the team's plans and performance drove everyone to plan, execute and improve.

Want to see how Liam and the Jacobs team shared their responsibilities to drive improvement?