About Network Rail Telecom
Network Rail Telecom (NRT) provides state-of-the-art communication services for the UK rail network and train and freight operating companies. It owns and manages nearly 20,000km of fibre-optic cable (the UK’s third-largest cable network), backed by 18,000km of rugged cable and 2,500 masts. With so much of today’s rail service requiring digital support, remote monitoring and always-on WiFi connection, the railway telecoms network is strategically more important than ever.
NRT is committed to delivering value to the taxpayer as it performs its critical telecom role for UK’s rail network. Key to that commitment is ensuring efficiency and cost-effectiveness across NRT’s multi-million-pound project management activity.
As in many organisations with multiple specialist departments, project management disciplines at NRT varied in quality. Head of Portfolio Management Office, Alexander David, was tasked to address the issues and drive a consistently high project management standard across the organisation.
My responsibility is to improve the organisation's maturity around project cycle management, training and competency," says Alexander David. "To start the change, we needed a compelling business case to explain what we are doing and why. We focused on the problems we face, the gaps in our current approach, how we can address them, the benefits we would gain, and the investment we needed.
Alexander looked for a partner to work with him to design the detailed change plan and achieve the funding required. Using the Public Sector Framework tender process, he identified CPS as a potential fit for his requirements.
The CPS team were all Change Managers who had substantial experience in delivering change successfully in different types and sizes of commercial and public sector organisations, often with complex challenges. The CPS proposal emphasised the team’s flexibility in working with varying client stakeholders with often conflicting objectives.
We chose CPS over bigger consultancy firms for several reasons,” says Alexander David. “First, I needed confidence that my partner could deliver. Having researched CPS’ portfolio of work and clients, I felt confident CPS could deliver. Secondly, I wanted good value for money. CPS’s expert change consultants were committed to being ready and available to get the job done well, which is much more cost-effective for me than working with a big team where the best people drop in and out. That can be a problem with some consultancies.
The CPS team’s assignment was to design a detailed business case based on Alexander David’s vision and an investment case to ensure it was funded. The business case would identify improved ways of working to create more cost-effective and efficient projects, programmes and business models for NRT. The investment case would provide a cost/benefit analysis of the planned changes.
CPS conducted an ‘as is’ assessment of NRT project management processes and behaviour to prepare the detailed business case. This involved robust engagement with NRT staff, from executive stakeholders to individual project managers, at a series of workshops and interviews. Once the ‘as is’ situation was clear, it was possible to identify where improvements needed to be made, and where gaps in provision could be filled.
CPS then developed a programme plan, including product and work breakdown structure, projects required to deliver the programme, and expected resource demands. The next level of work was to spec out a set of products that the programme plan would deliver work out the costs, risks and assumptions associated, and benefits to be gained. With the detailed business case complete, CPS produced the investment case, and took it to NRT’s Investment Board for approval.
NRT now has a funded change plan for delivery throughout 2022. Alexander David credits CPS with the successful development of the project, together with the detailed business case and investment case, all completed on time and to the quality he required. He believes that a significant reason why CPS was so successful was the team’s engagement with NRT stakeholders, who were potentially the biggest challenge.
NRT stakeholders all have their own interests in the way projects and programmes are managed,” he says. “Persuading them to agree to our change plan was always going to require a lot of listening and sensitivity. I was impressed that the CPS team showed such understanding and managed to use the workshops to turn around many of the objections and create tangible, realistic outcomes the stakeholders could buy into.
Alexander David says that the change programme and its delivery are likely to impact NRT’s approach to its business that goes beyond its project and programme delivery.
Feedback from stakeholders suggest we are seeing a real culture shift and new attitudes to modernisation in many areas of NRT,” says Alexander David. CPS and our internal team worked really well together to achieve this impressive result, and I can see our relationship continuing.
- A change plan will deliver improved project and programme efficiency and cost-effectiveness, helping to achieve value for money for the taxpayer.
- A culture shift amongst executive stakeholders opens the door for further modernisation initiatives elsewhere in the organisation.
- All required work items have been achieved on time, with a good return on the cost of the consultancy assignment.
A detailed business and investment case were completed on time and approved, ready for the change plan delivery. Stakeholders are confident that change can be achieved without compromising their business objectives. A culture shift will potentially enable other modernisation initiatives.