Balfour Beatty – The People Journey to Excellence

Balfour Beatty  are investing in their people to ensure their experts have the skills they need to succeed.

By investing in continuous development of their people Balfour Beatty can deliver the best possible outcomes for their customers.  To keep their employees at the leading edge of their fields, they have established a competency-based approach to provide them with the support and development they need to be the best.

Initial Brief

A KPMG audit identified that there was a disconnect between project manager competence and project risk.

Comaea were approached to support an organisation-wide transformation programme called ‘Build to Last’.  Comaea was to provide a tool to understand employee competence and provide management information to enable better resourcing decisions and provide stakeholder assurance.

The Project Management job family initially identified over 2200 employees with over 400 different job titles.

Initial solution provided

Comaea consultants worked with the Build to Last team to create a “Career Path” for project, programme and portfolio management (P3M) and 8 “Career Levels”.   Industry standard competencies from the Association of Project Management and some bespoke competencies were identified and written to ensure the correct skills and experience were captured.

“Over 411 existing job titles were mapped to these 8 standard career levels, to ensure consistency across all 12 of our business units, and it enabled future recruitment to be made against the new standards roles.”  Alan Horden, Build to Last.

Job Level Requirements (JLR) were identified and set for each role – these answered the question “ what does good look like for the role?" By setting the JLR a comprehensive gap analysis could be carried out to identify strengths, weaknesses and gaps.

Additional competencies were written to accommodate Balfour Beatty specific requirements and generic leadership and behavioural competencies were included from existing frameworks. Qualifications and additional information was also captured, covering mobilisation, mentoring, and languages to provide a richer employee competence profile.


The competency assessment was rolled out to all employees in the project management job family and each employee carried out a self-assessment for one of the eight defined P3M roles.


The line manager then approved the scores and provided the first level of moderation and assurance.  The Comaea software enabled comments and evidence to be added by the employee and manager and provided a visible gap analysis which enabled managers to have a meaningful development discussion with employees.

Managers used the dashboards in Comaea to ensure assessments had been completed and a league table listing the status of each business unit was published weekly.


Easily tracking and identifying those people who had not completed the assessment was critical in maintaining momentum, and strong leadership from the executive team and business unit directors ensured that the whole P3M community was on board and understood the importance to the business, and the benefits to themselves in their career development.

Once the P3M job family had finished the initial assessment process, the Build to last team were able to use the information to make more effective resourcing decisions and minimise risk by ensuring competent project managers were selected to manage projects.

In addition, experts were easily identified from their competency profile and used to support the development of others and new business wins identified shortages of skilled project managers and an upskilling programme was implemented along with targeted recruitment.

The project management job family now uses comaea to carry out half-yearly and annual reviews and aspirational and career-step roles can be added to encourage career development.


Data is also used in conjunction with the win business teams to ensure that competent project managers are identified for new business at an early stage and recruitment to backfill roles can take place quickly.

Expanding the job families

Following the success of the Project Management job family, other job families wanted to utilise comaea and a 12-month programme was initiated to bring on additional job families.

Each job family identified industry standard competency frameworks and worked with comaea consultants to define career paths and career levels and set the job level requirements.

Integrating into Business as Usual

Balfour Beatty now utilise comaea throughout the organisation and it is an integral tool to link the people strategy to the organisational goals.

Employee data is updated daily from Oracle R12 and the IT Helpdesk provide the 1 line of support, with comaea providing the 2nd line.
New starters are required to complete a competency profile and this information is used to help them plan their career within Balfour Beatty and allocate them to assignments.


Data from Comaea is used daily in

  • Individual development conversations,

  • HR planning and performance management

  • Learning and Development forecasting and effectiveness

  • Workforce mobilisation across the different business units

  • Business strategy and growth


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