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Developing a digital mindset for future infrastructure

A digital mindset can transform infrastructure projects. Collaborating with partners, Costain co-developed the ‘Downloading a Digital Mindset’ (DDM) programme to improve digital leadership across the construction industry, drawing on best practice from the Tideway project.

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Joint venture with VINCI Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche Partnership with Skanska and the Supply Chain Sustainability School.

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Consultancy (digital)

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Key features and benefits


individuals from 551 companies have engaged with the programme during its initial pilot – completely free of charge. Over 50% are SMEs.


improvement in digital leadership capability delivered enabled by better access to resources.


partners participating in the project to date from across Tideway and the wider industry supply chain.

Two Harvard Business School digital teaching cases written

by University College London have been incorporated into the DDM programme.

Award winning

DDM programme won the Skills and Workforce Initiative of the Year category at the Water Industry Awards 2022.

There is a significant digital skills gap across the construction industry. Modern technologies can raise productivity, increase efficiency, improve quality and safety, reduce our sustainability impacts, and help attract people to the sector.

In a joint venture with VINCI and Bachy Soletanche, we are delivering the eastern section of the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a major water project. Working with Tideway, we recognised an opportunity to draw on this best practice project, to learn from, and contribute to, the improvement of digital leadership skills across the construction sector.

Forming a partnership with Skanska and the Supply Chain Sustainability School, we mobilised engagement from across Tideway and the wider construction industry supply chain and secured funding from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to create the ‘Downloading a Digital Mindset’ (DDM) programme.
The programme provides a series of free-to-access learning materials and recognises that everyone in the industry needs to adopt a digital mindset that moves beyond BIM and IT. That mindset shift is critical to transform productivity, quality, and safety.


Collaboration and engagement

We chaired the cross-sector project leadership team supporting the Supply Chain School in the delivery of the scheme that was sponsored by our customer Tideway. Working with the leadership team and using the Supply Chain School’s network we mobilised industry wide engagement, leading to industry-wide collaboration in the development of the tools. To date, over 25 partners are participating in the project.

We also identified the opportunity for an innovative research and delivery partnership with Academia. Dr Beth Morgan and Dr Eleni Papadonikolaki of Digital Outlook were commissioned to undertake primary research at the Tideway East joint venture, and with the Skanska supply chain. The research consisted of 24 interviews which were written up into two, 5,000-word case studies. These case studies have been incorporated into the DDM programme.

Complimenting the case studies was the development of an organisational maturity tool and a Training Needs Analysis tool. The digital maturity matrix has been completed and piloted with members of the task force and has been developed through extensive research across multiple sectors to collate and process the different digital metrics.


No industry-wide tool was previously available for organisations within the infrastructure supply chain to assess their digital maturity. The DDM project has developed a comprehensive and detailed model for this purpose. By web enabling the tool through the Supply Chain School website, it is freely available to all in the sector.

Membership to the Supply Chain School is free, with places funded by a range of organisations, including Anglian Water, United Utilities, Welsh Water, and Yorkshire Water alongside companies such as Costain and Skanska together with grant funding from organisations such as CITB.

This free access – together with the leadership from customers and industry – means there are few barriers to entry. With support and leadership, DDM has the potential to reach the 45,000 registered individual users of the school, which includes 12,000 SMEs.

Such readily-available insight could have a highly significant impact across the water sector and other infrastructure projects.

Delivering results

Piloted during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a three-year programme, running until March 2023. The programme aims to train a minimum of 2,100 managers and leaders from 750 organisations through virtual instructor-led training and ‘on-demand’ e-learning. A digital library provides the tools to assess individual digital training needs and organisational maturity, together with e-learning modules, videos and case studies.

The DDM programme supports business leaders, across the construction supply chain. It equips them with the right skills, knowledge, and tools required to successfully lead the implementation of new digital technology solutions within their organisations using an innovative Harvard business case model of hybrid training. The Supply Chains School’s learning platform was further developed to provide the additional diagnostics.

Jeremy Galpin, Costain’s lead for digital social value consultancy commented: ”We are thrilled that this programme won the Skills and Workforce Initiative of the Year category at the Water Industry Awards 2022. This is testament to everyone involved. Having sufficient digital leadership skills in every organisation is essential to delivering on the industry’s ambitions to increase productivity and reduce carbon as well as delivering increasing social value. Our award winning DDM programme is designed to enable that upskilling.“

“Digital technologies are now underpinning much of the construction industry’s work and it is essential that its leaders understand the opportunities that digital innovations can deliver. However, digital leaders need to acquire the skills to exploit digital technologies whilst at the same time minimising risk and managing change. We are delighted that the Supply Chain Sustainability School has helped so many people begin their journey towards developing those skills.”

David Emery, Consultant at the Supply Chain Sustainability School

Contact and social


Gerard Shore, Sector Director
0161 910 3444
[email protected]