We are working more and more with government infrastructure delivery organisations who are committed to delivering better value for money outcomes for the community. Part of delivering on this objective is through the provision of commercial acumen training that builds the capacity and capability of their staff to be more commercially astute when planning, procuring and delivering infrastructure projects. This training is very successful in providing participants with the confidence to commercially work with their private sector partners to deliver better project outcomes for the community.

When scoping up the commercial acumen training and what we are trying to achieve, we work with our clients to understand what success looks like.  What will the organisation be doing in all areas of delivery?  What skills and expertise will our staff have in delivering better project outcomes?  What value for money outcomes would have been achieved?  These and other questions are important to reflect on in ensuring the organisation is working towards goals and objectives that are clearly understood and communicated in working towards being a more mature, intelligent and capable delivery government agency.

The Institution of Civil Engineers in the UK have done some excellent work in identifying what a capable government delivery infrastructure organisation looks like. They have done this through the P13 project which is an industry-led response to infrastructure delivery models that have failed not just clients and their suppliers, but also the operators and users of our infrastructure systems and networks.

The P13 project seeks to develop a new business model – based on an enterprise, not on traditional transactional arrangements – to boost certainty and productivity in delivery, improve whole life outcomes in operation and support a more sustainable, innovative, highly skilled industry. It is impressive and more information and tools and resources on this initiative can be found here.

One particular tool they have developed on the website is an owner maturity matrix that works through each level that a government delivery organisation might be at and what they made need to do to get to the next level.  There is a questionnaire that you can fill in on the website that can quickly identify where you are at and what strategies you may put in place to proceed to the various levels in the matrix.

This owner maturity matrix should be used by senior executives of infrastructure delivery organisations to raise the awareness of the organisation’s capabilities through discussion and gap analysis. Successful use can help guide recruitment of additional commercial skills required in the organisation, inform senior management of capability maturity and achievements, spot development opportunities for all staff, and identify the next level of maturity and what is required to get there. Whilst it is not assumed that an owner organisation would be able to strive to reach Level 3 maturity across all 6 capabilities simultaneously due to the time and financial investment that this requires; the tool will help to identify the current level of organisational capability, which will in turn inform the prioritisation of activity to allow each particular owner organisation to reach Level 3 maturity over time.

The owner maturity matrix should be linked to a workforce capability framework that outlines how you are going to reach the different levels of maturity across all staff and through your systems and processes. This will be the subject of an additional blog that I write in the coming weeks.

We have provided from the P13 website the owner maturity matrix below. It breaks maturity in to six key areas:

  • Articulating the voice of the customer
  • Value-driven mindset
  • Articulating the voice of operations
  • Relating to the ecosystem
  • Creating and maintaining complex systems
  • Recruiting, building and maintaining talent

It then provides a clear statement for each level on what success looks like for each area which assists you in identifying where you are at and where you wish to get to for each key area above.

Working towards becoming a capable and mature and intelligent client should be the goal of every infrastructure deliver government agency. Partnering with the private sector to deliver successful projects requires an organisation and staff that are commercially capable to deliver value for money outcomes.


Capable Owner LevelLevel 0
(Traditional Client)
Level 1
(Collaborative Client)
Level 2
(Intelligent Client)
Level 3
(Capable Owner)
Articulating the voice of the customerLimited knowledge and understanding of customer needs, they have limited influence on our decisions.Basic knowledge and understanding of customer needs; they are beginning to influence our decisionsComprehensive knowledge of customer needs; we attempt to meet them but do not always do so.Comprehensive knowledge and understanding of present and future customer needs; we meet and exceed their expectations
Value-driven mind-setValue defined by Cost Benefit Analysis of outputs; we focus on cost rather than value.Understand the difference between outputs and outcomes. We rely on suppliers to achieve outcomes.Greater focus on outcomes, but culturally focused on asset creation.Deep understanding of value; value drives us as a supplier of infrastructure services. Take full responsibility for achieving the value embedded in outcomes
Articulating the voice of operationsMinimum recognition of needs and requirements of operations; focused on projects; cost and schedule driven behaviours supported by emphasis on value engineeringUnderstand life-cycle costs, but operations only involved at hand-over; limited time spent at front end of projects.Ongoing engagement of operations embedded in the project team throughout the lifecycle starting with front end definition. Responsive and continuous engagement from operations.Integrated asset development and asset management capability with both functions perceived as equals in the organisation
Relating to the ecosystemTransactional in relationships; mainly personality-driven relationships; limited contractual constructs; do not support collaboration; restrict opportunities for innovationCollaborate in project relationships; confident in commitments, repeat contracts and alliancing; ask for innovation from suppliers, but limited understanding on how to capitalise on it.Build a truly collaborative environment at programme level; relationship-based contracts with aligned objectives. Deep enough understanding of project execution to challenge suppliers when their performance is below expectations. Encourage innovation.Create an aligned business eco-system extending beyond individual programmes for the delivery of infrastructure services through asset life. Drive and facilitate innovation through the supply chain (including working with SMEs) and understand how this contributes to the value and capability of the organisation
Creating and maintaining complex systemsStandard project management tools and techniques deployed. Risk management relies upon deterministic quantitative techniques. Reliant on suppliers for reporting progress and have no governance processes in place.Pay attention to team working in project management, and more sophisticated tools and techniques are applied. Risk management relies upon probabilistic techniques. Control function is established, but relies on external consultants and is focused on reporting. Weak governance with projects “crashing” gates.Project Sponsor who works closely with the owner project team to support the team through delivery. Project team moves beyond managing risk to managing uncertainty and complexity. Performance management function is fully established by owner, but still focused on reporting. Full stage/gate process established, supported by a nascent PMO.Capable Owner team established, including systems integration capability which enables flexibility and innovation culture supported by a PMO and strong portfolio management. Fully embedded owner performance management systems focused on forecasting; singularity and clarity of shared purpose; ability to understand and embrace new technologies and innovations.
Recruiting, building and maintaining talentRecruitment process is inconsistently applied; preconceived ideas of required qualities; and build professional silos; high churn/burn-out; low diversity; no clear career progression; organisation is not representative of its customer baseRecruitment and career development process is defined, but inconsistently applied; we are improving diversity, yet there is a need for a higher degree of diversity; increasingly open to skills from other industries, but difficulties in applying them in practice.Full career development paths, but still reliant on professional groupings rather than creating the new roles that the Capable Owner requires. Good understanding of the importance of building and maintaining talent, but lacks in activities in attracting and maintaining talent.Well-structured and applied recruitment processes; actively enhance diversity; have well understood career progression; colleagues actively live company values; events are organised to attract new talent. Culture fully embraces diversity; the employer of choice. Strong leadership and training of new generation of leaders