Over recent months, Network Rail has been sending out a clear and consistent message about the “behavioural change” needed to take place within the company in order for it to deliver its objectives.

Behavioural change is an interesting concept that is often quite difficult to grasp in the pragmatic world in which we live. However, on 2nd April this year, Network Rail gained the recently established BS11000 certification for “Collaborative Business Relationship Management”.

BS11000 is designed to improve collaborative working between client and supplier and it is a major stepping stone in the pursuit of behavioural change within Network Rail and, if adopted correctly, it will have a profound effect on the rail industry’s ability to work more effectively and efficiently.

McNulty report

One of the incentives for Network Rail to embrace BS11000 is Sir Roy McNulty’s “Rail Value for Money” study published in May 2011. This study identified greater collaboration between organisations within the rail industry as one of the means of delivering greater value for passengers and taxpayers. BS11000 will be one of the tools Network Rail is going to use to improve the way it works with its supply base and to deliver better value for money.

That is why it is good news to hear that Network Rail has become the first company in the rail industry and the thirteenth nationwide, to gain BS11000 certification. This is a significant achievement in the midst of a programme of wide-ranging changes within Network Rail.

Beginning to deliver

Formal accreditation was presented to Network Rail on 2nd April, at an event attended by Lord Berkeley and partner organisations from across the rail industry. At this event, Simon Kirby, managing director, infrastructure projects, said: “Network Rail is making big changes that will bring us closer to our customers, make us more efficient and get better value for money to both passengers and taxpayers.

Achieving BS11000 shows that these changes are already beginning to deliver in the right way. The BS11000 standard gives us the strategic framework to develop, with our key suppliers, the policies and processes, the culture and behaviours required to establish successful collaborative relations and to drive continual improvement. Maintaining collaborative business relations can only lead to benefits for Network Rail and its suppliers, for the rail industry and for Britain.”

The person responsible for leading the accreditation process for Network Rail is Neill Carruthers, Head of Contracting Strategy, Infrastructure Projects. He explained that, following approval from the Network Rail Board in June 2011, it has been nonstop to achieve accreditation. He emphasised that from the start they received excellent help from Partnership Sourcing Limited (PSL) which is a not-for-profit company set up by the CBI and BIS to help UK companies understand and implement the process of collaborative working.

Supplier partners

As part of Network Rail’s partnering strategy for the new projects business, different contracting models of varying degrees of complexity have been developed. The models range from simple outsourcing to full design, build, operate and maintain. The main focus of Network Rail’s supply chain arrangements is currently focussed on the use of the alliance, delivery partner and engaging models, which are each represented across the following four pilot projects:

• Crossrail south east section project – partner Balfour Beatty Rail Ltd;

• Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace capacity improvement – partner Balfour Beatty Rail Ltd;

• Hitchin grade separation – partner HOCHTIEF (UK) Construction Ltd;

• Reading station civil engineering works – partner BAM Nuttall Ltd.

Gap analysis

In order to identify the corporate changes required to enable the principles of BS11000 to be put into practice, Network Rail arranged 2 day workshops for client and supplier. The process used in the workshops was a gap analysis to compare the requirements of the standard with existing processes in place. This exposed the corporate changes that need to be addressed which in turn generated the Relationship Management Plan (RMP). Neill described it as a very positive experience.

Different individual plans were developed for the different projects because the projects were at varying stages of development. Suppliers within a project have different needs and aspirations, so plans had to be developed for each supplier and, in turn, the suppliers had to develop their own RMPs. One of the fundamental principles behind the initiative is for client and suppliers to understand each other’s aspirations at corporate level.

Next steps

A fifth project, the Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) has now been added to the pilot schemes. This project embraces BS11000 principles from the outset in that the RMP is included within the tender documents. The documents set out how the collaboration will work based on experience gained to date, and the bidders will be required to respond with their own views on making the collaborative process effective.

So far, Neill is very pleased with the progress that has been made but he is aware of the challenges he and his team have faced and continue to face. As he says, “Delivering a culture change programme within a large organisation like Network Rail is a significant undertaking. Extending this to our dealings with the supply chain and customers is greater still. Our success is testament to the hard work of everyone involved, both at Network Rail and our supply partners.”

Managing change

As has been highlighted in previous articles in the rail engineer, Network Rail is currently undergoing significant change. These changes involve a series of reforms which will see fundamental change to the way the company does business. Already, day-to-day maintenance and responsibility for the operation of the railway has been devolved to ten route managing directors. It is their job to work closely with their customers in the train and freight operating companies, ensuring that they are providing an efficient and reliable railway infrastructure for their customers to use.

Over the next few months, Network Rail’s new national centre in Milton Keynes will become the home station for more than 3,000 people. Network Rail claims that this new national centre will provide a slimmer but stronger support structure for the routes. Alongside these changes, wide-ranging reforms are being made to the way Network Rail delivers infrastructure projects, including a separate projects business working in collaboration with the supply chain.

So, starting this April, Network Rail Infrastructure Projects has begun to align itself with the ten devolved routes as a regionally-based delivery business. By the middle of 2013, the aim is to develop Infrastructure Projects into a subsidiary company which will be part of the Network Rail group. The long-term goal is for Network Rail Infrastructure Projects to be the leader in providing rail infrastructure solutions in the UK and its success will be built on the strong collaborative relationships developed with suppliers, clients and customers for which BS11000 will provide the strategic framework.

Further training & development

Network Rail’s BS11000 programme is already being expanded for the next financial year which will see other major projects added to the initial pilot portfolio of projects. The capital expenditure value of these additional projects will increase the overall value of projects working under BS11000 to almost £3bn. The next phase of the process will also see further training and development within Network Rail as the company investigates the scope for the adoption of BS11000 within other areas of the business.

Network Rail has worked with the Railway Industry Association (RIA) as well as Partnership Sourcing Ltd to provide briefings to the company’s supply chain about BS11000 and the benefits of this approach. A number of Network Rail’s strategic partners are currently in the implementation and assessment phases for the standard, offering the opportunity for best practice being shared throughout the industry.

Jeremy Candfield, director-general of the Railway Industry Association (RIA) representing the railway supply industry, said: “Getting supply chain relationships right is fundamental to achieving a more efficient railway. RIA has long been supportive of greater collaboration and transformed supply chain behaviours and there is a natural fit between BS11000 and our own Value Improvement Programme initiative in reaching those goals. This announcement is therefore an important step: we welcome it, and we look forward to working with Network Rail in the new framework being put in place today.”

Collaborative working

Neill suggested to me that if you were to ask each one of the 3,500 people who work in Infrastructure projects within Network Rail, “What is the meaning of collaborative working?” you would receive many different answers. BS11000 now provides a framework and a focus that everyone can understand. It also offers a platform that will start to change the concept of cultural change from an abstract form into something that can be managed.

It’s good news for Network Rail, its supply chain and for the rail industry. However, if you are not sure what BS11000 is all about, hopefully this article helps a little, but you would be wise to get onto Google now since you will need to be quick to catch up with those well placed suppliers who have already participated in the pilot scheme!