Continuous Improvement and Standardisation at Bovis Homes
Embedding Process Discovery and Ensuring Best Practice
A Trusted Name in Homebuilding Since 1885
Bovis Homes is one of the country’s leading home builders building family homes across the UK for more than a hundred years. Listed on the FTSE250 the company has established an enviable reputation for the quality of build and design, specification and customer service.
With more than 1,000 members of staff, Bovis operate across 7 regional businesses in the South, Midlands and North of England. Each regional business unit is set up to make the best use of local tradesmen and local knowledge. This ensures the best locations are selected and the right mix of homes are constructed in each area to suit local communities.
While this approach ensures local needs for housing and employment are met it poses challenges for an organisation operating at a national level. Strict standards for health and safety must be met. Operational costs must be carefully controlled to ensure affordability of homes. At the same time high and consistent levels of quality and customer experience are essential to the brand.
Rapid Growth Brings New Challenges
Following a period of ambitious growth, where the company had almost doubled the number of completions, the business started to develop a number of operational challenges. These challenges resulted in longer than expected delivery with knock on effects of higher costs and a negative impact on customer service standards.
In early 2017 Bovis appointed new Chief Executive Greg Fitzgerald, with over 32 years of experience in the construction business. Fitzgerald immediately started making changes to core processes, ensuring key controls were in place and key personnel were empowered to make those decisions.
“If everything is not ready for a smooth start on site they can say STOP.” Staff are empowered to make important decisions and are accountable for the outcomes of those processes. The leadership team also committed to putting customers back at the centre of everything. This means ensuring best practices for customer experience and construction are rolled out across the country.
Establishing Standards and Best Practice
As Group Head of Internal Audit and Risk Chris Jones is the owner of internal process excellence at Bovis Homes. To start putting the necessary improvements in place Chris needed to create a risk and control framework, minimum standards for best practice and an audit plan.
However, following the rapid growth, there was no central standard for describing processes and procedures. Different parts of the organisation maintained different sets of documentation and not all of it was kept up-to-date.
Without a standard set of minimum best practices it was difficult to accurately test the organisation’s ability to deliver on its promises. This made it even more difficult to assess the real level of risk the business was exposed to.
What’s more, there was little in the way of agreed best practices at group level with varying levels of collaboration between the regional businesses.
Making Best Practice Accessible
Skore software had already been used in the business as part of the end-to-end review of processes. In 2016 a group level process had been created with the executive team to help articulate and prioritise improvement initiatives.
“Having worked with several different tools in my career what I like about Skore is how clean the processes look and how key control points are clearly shown in the relevant place.” Says Chris.
“It has a really nice look and feel, it’s easy to use and really quick to capture processes along with related policies and control points. This makes it very accessible to the widest possible audience.”
Making process information accessible is a key requirement as Chris, and his team, bring best practice out of the regions and share it across the group.
“Skore has the ability to take complexity away from the resulting diagram while retaining all the necessary detail. It makes it easy to communicate and share standard processes and key control points.”
The team used Skore to engage with regions by collaboratively creating the best practices while aligning with industry standards for quality, health and safety. This was done across live workshops before being shared among all key stakeholders.
Agile at a National Level
The next phase of the programme is to roll the new best practices out to all the regions. A key part of this is to integrate Skore into the existing systems through single-sign on. According to Chris “This makes accessing the content seamless to those that need it.”
“The processes will be used to train new team member as well as informing improvements to our systems.”
Regional Managers will own the standards and be responsible for improving them and using them as a base to collaborate across the group. As the company continues to standardise key control processes it will be much easier to benchmark performance and improve. This will make the organisation more agile and easier to adapt to changes while maintaining high levels of quality and customer service for home owners across the nation.
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