Brymor tackles error through data capture and analysis

30 May 22

Before you can start to eliminate errors, you first need to acknowledge that they occur, Claire May and George Slattery from Brymor reminded delegates at the recent GIRI members’ meeting. Their presentation outlined the steps the contractor has taken to capture data about errors on its projects and develop strategies to reduce them.

Regional contractor Brymor employs around 100 staff and turns over approximately £75 million a year. The business became aware of GIRI in 2019 and conducted a high-level study to assess whether the figures quoted in GIRI’s research were replicated in its own operations. As a result, Brymor decided to join the Get It Right Initiative.

“We don’t have the sophistication to measure things like unrecorded process waste,” said George Slattery. “But errors on site were at a high level and it was eye-opening to see on paper how much money we had lost in a year based on our turnover.”

Brymor’s initial response was to form a working group. Members met quarterly and discussed the issue. “We were sitting around a room, but we were not achieving much,” said George. “We needed to reinvigorate the process if we wanted to see a benefit from GIRI’s philosophies.”

“We went back to the drawing board,” said Claire. “We knew GIRI had a lot of hidden potential for Brymor, but we needed to unlock it and capture those errors. So we developed a strategy for GIRI within the business and articulated our objective: to enhance Brymor’s profitability through reducing error.”

Brymor also set four key aims: to establish awareness and understanding of the impact of error; to transform business-wide attitudes towards error reporting; to engage all stakeholders in the whole project life cycle in getting it right first time; and to communicate learning and initiatives to enhance business knowledge.

“We are on the first two of these at the moment and we want to start engaging with the second two,” said Claire.

The former working group was transformed into an action group, with a membership of subject matter experts from key departments, each of whom were given specific roles and responsibilities within the group. Then there was the business data itself – identifying what Brymor calls ‘GIRI events’.

“The key thing for unlocking our issues was the raw data,” said George. “We had no methodology for capturing error-related data on site. We had to start from scratch, borrowing from GIRI’s concepts including the error frequency ratio and cost capture.”

Brymor added a GIRI events tab to its CVR (cost, value, reconciliation) process to begin the data capture, with project managers and QS teams tasked with recording GIRI events and assessed cost across a range of categories including design and development, designer default, building control, statutory body, Covid-19, logistics, and health and safety.

“We also invite suggestions of how we can improve from site level,” said George. “This is not just about upper management saying we need to change our processes, it’s about the nitty gritty coalface improvements that can be made.”

This project-by-project data capture and analysis enabled Brymor to understand where its most common and costly errors were occurring. “We are now seeing that a lot of the issues we face are endemic to the way we work, and it is up to us to improve,” said George.

“The initial analysis showed that 2.28% of our projects’ overall costs were attributable to error,” said Claire. “That’s a lot.” However, closer analysis identified some inaccuracies, many caused by bias in recording events, incorrect allocation of the data to a specific category, and reluctance to accept blame for errors. This was addressed by the action group specialists reviewing the way events had been recorded or allocated.

A root cause analysis on three or four prevalent issues was taken forward to a higher-level summary to reveal where the main problems were occurring, leading to proposed actions for improvement.

The project faced various challenges, from getting people to actually use the tab and defining what counts as a GIRI events to being honest about who is to blame. “Unless we face up to our issues we cannot resolve them,” said George. “Our mentality at Brymor is about how we better ourselves. It might be about margins at the moment, but better margins will allow us to invest more in things like sustainability. We have made mistakes along the way - this is a fledgling process - and we have to learn from those. Getting it right first time is a wonderful dream, but a lot of hard work and errors happen before you get there. Hopefully we can get it right first time in the future.”

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