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Portastor, part of the family-owned Shepherd Group, manufactures and fits out large metal enclosures (up to 31 metres long and 7 metres wide) which house expensive switchgear for the rail, power, nuclear, and oil and gas industries. They are a direct replacement for brick buildings, with the advantage that they can be shipped complete to a site and installed for immediate use.

The company had won a large project for an oil and gas customer. The requirements of the client and the sector in general created a need to overhaul the project management systems and processes utilised in the business. Collinson Grant was engaged initially to take responsibility for the team and to implement an entirely new project management process capable of meeting the demands of that particular customer and sector.

After a review, we began work to improve the way projects were managed by tackling processes, the use of systems, and how risks were managed. We also improved the working relationship between the bidding and projects teams. The scope of the project expanded as we sought to eliminate risks to other projects and, ultimately, we were asked to take responsibility for the Engineering department, where similar improvements were made.

A seven-gate project management process was implemented with defined roles, tasks and outputs. This included a set of processes aimed at reducing risk. Implementation involved briefings for staff to improve understanding of the new approaches, as well as coaching for certain individuals.

The capabilities of the project team were enhanced and the structure of the team was changed. A new leader with the right skills was appointed, and suitably qualified team members were recruited. A skills matrix is now in use by Engineering and Projects.

A routine review was established to find ways for departments to collaborate better on projects and plans, and these sessions have since produced additional improvements to processes.

The business now has much more control over new projects and the team has greater confidence in its ability to manage and control them. There is an improved use of SAP for planning, project management and reporting. And, as the new processes became more firmly embedded, the business increased its chances of capitalising on a growing demand for its products.

Todd Altman, Chief Executive of Shepherd Group Engineering, said:

"The support provided by Collinson Grant allowed the business to make the changes required in processes and capability whilst continuing to deliver on commitments. The additional resource, insight and experience provided was invaluable to delivering the rapid change required."