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THE M6 extension project has seen the Highways Agency look to a system of process management developed by communications giant Motorola in the 1980s. At its root Six Sigma involves attempting to eliminate defects from all the various processes involved in a project to increase reliability and performance.

'Using Six Sigma we looked at a number of processes including getting a decision letter from the secretary of state after the public inquiry.

'That used to cause more than seven week delay, which we have reduced by fou r weeks, ' says Mr el-Balbisi.

This process improvement is recognised by Mr Kennedy.

'We have had some success in improvements on the statutory procedures. They used to take 80-odd weeks but we have shaved 21 weeks from that.

'That is a significant saving that can be cascaded to all the other Highways Agency projects, ' he says.