Lean supplier support

Guidance for the National Highways supply chain to determine the extent to which your organisation has adopted Lean principles.

Lean supplier support

National Highways encourages its supply chain partners to adopt Lean principles and foster a culture of continuous improvement - to mutual advantage. Successful implementation of Lean has shown improvements of over 25% in the areas of time, cost and quality, along with improved employee satisfaction.

There is a dedicated National Highways Lean team who will support you with any Lean challenges or queries - you can contact the Lean team via email. You’ll also find a range of tools, guides and standards within this support page to aid you as you strive for continuous improvement and ultimately Lean perfection within your organisation.

Our Lean strategy for RIS2 period (2025-30)


The Highways Excellence Lean Maturity Assessment (HELMA) aims to help organisations in the National Highways supply chain determine the extent to which they have adopted Lean principles.

The objective of the assessment process is to recognise where Lean principles are being deployed successfully as well as highlight areas for improvement and use this information to help drive the Lean deployment process.

There are five levels of achievement in HELMA assessment:

Level 0 Not started yet
Level 1 Started to show some initial progress in some areas
Level 2 Developing and delivering good practice in specific areas
Level 3 Good practice and performance improvement in many areas
Level 4 Excellent organisation-wide achievement embedded

After each moderation an Improvement Action Plan is produced by the organisation/project being assessed.

Scores for HELMAs which have been moderated by National Highways will be published at the end of the financial year.

The assessment framework

There are 10 topic areas within the HELMA assessment framework:

  • Integration of Lean and business strategy
  • Lean leadership and engagement
  • Deployment management and Lean infrastructure
  • Voice of the customer
  • Value streams and processes
  • Methodologies and tools
  • Competencies and capabilities across the organisation
  • Performance improvement and delivery of outcomes
  • Continuous improvement culture
  • Supplier engagement

We've launched an improved and refreshed version of HELMA, called HELMA 2024.

HELMA 2024 Framework

HELMA 2024 Framework guide

Lean support

We offer a range of support to our suppliers to enable you to adopt and improve Lean principles in your work with us, including a dedicated team of Lean experts.

Suppliers will also have access to:

  • the National Highways Lean Tracker
  • our library of Knowledge Transfer Packs, detailing examples of Lean from across National Highways and our supply chain
  • the Digital Efficiency Register
  • the National Highways Major Projects Knowledge Management site, to help facilitate knowledge share of lessons learnt from across our Major Projects

Find out more about the support available on the Lean efficiencies and case studies page.

Lean workers