A fresh approach to project delivery at Sellafield is unlocking benefits at the UK’s largest and most complex nuclear site.

Katherine Bew, Managing Director of the international built-environment consultancy, PCSG, completes this series of blogs explaining how this is being achieved.

Hello again! Over the last few weeks we’ve looked in some detail at Sellafield’s Outcome Based Contracting (OBC) approach and in particular the cornerstones of the OBC Toolkit.


Today, in my last blog, we will look at the fourth and final cornerstone – Right Roles.

Figure One 1: The four cornerstones of Sellafield’s OBC approach

The concept of Right Roles in Sellafield’s OBC approach is shown in Figure 2. One way the OBC Toolkit establishes Right Roles is by emphasising the need to understand the roles of others; this includes the use of RACI charts aligned to the key activities that are carried out on an OBC project.

Once roles are clearly defined (at the earliest possible stage), individuals in a team are then made aware of what everyone else in their team is up to – what their responsibilities are.

This clarity of responsibilities provides a number of benefits. Not only does it aid the overall collaborative environment (in which problem solving is a lot more efficient and effective), but it also empowers the supply chain. This, in turn, encourages innovation and reduces risk.

The OBC Toolkit includes role descriptions for all roles carried out by Sellafield. These roles are either fulfilled in the ‘Delivery Enabler’ part of the team – the roles needed primarily to enable the contractor to lead delivery, or the ‘Nuclear Site Licence Custodians’ – the roles needed to provide the necessary assurance that all works will comply with the requirements of the site licence and other regulations including environmental permits.

Just like the cornerstones of my previous blogs, Right Roles has three core principles that give it strength and meaning.

The first core principle is to empower the supply chain to lead, be accountable and be highly proactive.

The OBC cultural approach encourages difficult conversations to be had early, creating an assurance regime that is proactively managed. This also ensures that the supply chain feels empowered to fulfil its role, as it fully understands the Delivery Lead’s role and associated accountabilities.

Empowering the supply chain means competencies are used effectively and risk is proactively managed. The results of being accountable for delivering the shared project purpose is that people working on the project are more committed and engaged. For more efficient, faster and safer delivery (as well as better value outcomes), individuals need to feel empowered to take the right actions in relation to the overall purpose.

Accountability for results drives ideas, input and innovation. If it is based on a fair level of shared risk and reward, the transference of accountabilities to the supply chain also leads to issues blocking delivery being quickly raised and dealt with. As risk and values are shared, concerns are raised openly and honestly, without fear of quashing – joint problem-solving leads to early resolutions and increases overall efficiency.

The second core principle is to appoint and engage the project team early.

If roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, understood and accepted – and all team members are fully briefed and involved – problem solving will be far more effective. To achieve this, candidates (with all the competencies needed to fulfil their role requirements) must be identified from an early stage, and the OBC cultural approach embraced by all.

One of the ways OBC increases the chance of success (as described last week in the One Team Approach blog) is its emphasis on resolving emerging issues using a collaborative mindset. Sellafield’s role is to enable and support the Delivery Lead in developing their delivery solution so they can successfully carry out the works.

By nature, the various roles need to be highly proactive in providing information and anticipating issues or risks. For Sellafield to accept and undertake these newly defined roles, clarity and understanding of their differences is essential. Team members with the relevant competencies must be fully briefed and involved in order to keep OBC projects on track. The OBC Toolkit is designed to be a useful tool in bringing newcomers to OBC quickly up to speed.

The third core principle is to leverage delivery capability.

In the case of Sellafield, full benefit of the remediation delivery capability must be understood, and skillsets used to best effect. By transferring ownership of the delivery solution to the supply chain, Sellafield benefits from using its considerable remediation delivery capability to best effect. As Sellafield contributes to the early stages of defining the scope of works and delivery methods, projects are de-risked from the outset. On top of this, Sellafield’s experience will be used to support the supply chain to deliver the outcomes.

With the OBC delivery approach, Delivery Enablers will have greater capacity to fulfil their roles on an increased number of projects compared to a ‘business as usual’ project delivery approach. This in turn gives Sellafield the opportunity to accelerate the remediation programme.

This concludes my series of blog posts about Sellafield’s approach to Outcome Based Contracting. I hope I have conveyed how important the four cornerstones of Shared Purpose, Aligned Outcomes, One Team Approach and Right Roles are, and how they simultaneously support and rely on each other.

To successfully deliver projects using this approach (which is transferable to any organisation or project), we must have common values, a defined direction and a unified team with clear roles and responsibilities.

The approach Sellafield is taking, including the development and use of the OBC Toolkit, is helping to make the sound theory become a reality. It is certainly hard work for everyone involved, but also hugely rewarding. It is a real privilege to be part of this transformational programme of work.


Read Katherine’s first blog in the series

Read Katherine’s second blog in the series

Read Katherine’s third blog in the series

Read Katherine’s fourth blog in the series


PCSG-strapline-CMYKKatherine Bew is Managing Director of PCSG – a leading built-environment consultancy.

PCSG is focused on delivering sustainable outcomes through digitisation and effective use of resources. From its bases in the UK and Australia, PCSG is a trusted partner to some of the biggest names in industry. PCSG helps clients to deliver, operate and optimise their built assets – solving key business issues, unlocking value, building resilience and helping transform the way they do business.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and feedback by commenting on this blog, sharing on our social media feeds or by contacting Katherine directly at: katherine.bew@pcsg.co.uk.