This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
COMMENT


Transforming perceptions


A


t a roundtable event held on August 7, industry professionals from Network Rail Infrastructure Projects (IP), RIA and CECA discussed the results of the 2012 suppliers perception survey and how a new confi dence in the industry was making it possible to drive forward engagement throughout the supply chain.


Attending were Network Rail Infrastructure Projects fi nance & commercial director David McLoughlin and its head of supplier engagement Katie Ferrier; Ian Sexton, director of contracts and procurement at Network Rail; Mike Cocks, UK rail director at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA); and Peter Loosley, policy director of the Rail Industry Association (RIA).


A quantum jump


Overall, the survey results (see box, right) paint a positive picture, with more and more suppliers becoming confi dent to raise issues with Network Rail and highlight areas for improvement.


McLoughlin said: “It’s fair to say that in the past the results have been mediocre at best. The results in 2012 have been, I would say, a quantum jump from where they’ve been in the past.”


This improvement correlates with work over the past year, he added, and continuous effort is being targeted at the issues highlighted by suppliers.


Loosley highlighted the verbatim comments from suppliers as a key way to gauge opinion, and an honest appraisal of how they really feel: “Last year I think people would say, ‘We know everybody recognises what the problems are but not much seems to be happening’. I think now we are seeing that.


“It’s clear that the results are very positive – the result of an awful lot of hard work over the last year.” But he added: “This is not job done; we


22 | rail technology magazine Aug/Sep 12


are not out of the woods yet. There is still quite a lot to do.”


Room for improvement


Loosley highlighted four key areas raised in the survey; better planning, workload visibility and longer term contracts; more consistency of approach; more collaboration and openness; and earlier supplier engagement.


He then described ongoing work to improve that, with tender events, estimates of probability, timescales and successful tenders currently being published on Network Rail’s website.


But this database needs to be updated regularly and consistently, with awareness strengthened among suppliers. Stable project specifi cations could help to reduce late changes and improve


“The speed of change is quite phenomenal”


Network Rail is transforming its relationship with its supply chain, and the results of the 2012 suppliers’ perceptions survey back up its claims of greater engagement. Kate Ashley reports.


“We are doing an awful lot, people recognise we’re doing a lot, we just need to do it quicker.”


Speed of change


Speaking of the speed of transformation, many at the event were impressed by Network Rail’s ability to move from theory to practice in such a short period of time.


Cocks said: “The speed of change is quite phenomenal. The listening now is followed up by actions and ‘what can we do about it’.”


But he added: “There’s no complacency that those things should be ducked.”


McLoughlin acknowledged that the organisation needed to constantly improve, especially in the areas of collaboration and consistency.


All Network Rail attendees were in agreement that Sir David Higgins provided a “catalyst” when he joined the company as chief executive in early 2011, with a different way of thinking and a new approach to engagement. He is often credited with ushering in a new and more collaborative ethos at Network Rail, following the ‘command and control’ period when Iain Coucher was in charge and the organisation was trying to deal with a legacy of problems from the Railtrack era.


Loosley said: “The level of


relations between suppliers and Network Rail, and coordinating timescales could ensure suppliers are neither under-used nor over- loaded. In terms of consistency from Network Rail centrally and the actual contracts signed, Loosley cautioned: “There is a perception that the message is fragmented.”


He added: “We also need to look at consistent behaviours and culture across the organisation. That’s very easy to say and hard to do but it’s beginning to happen; we are seeing some of this but there is a long way to go.


engagement we have now with NR is higher than it has ever been, both strategically and at working level, through various different forums. The whole relationship is a much more interactive one – there is actually dialogue and things happen as a result of that dialogue.”


Ferrier pointed out that this speed of change was refl ected in the way information was published to their website.


She said: “It’s really important to us to act on change immediately.”


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117  |  Page 118  |  Page 119  |  Page 120  |  Page 121  |  Page 122  |  Page 123  |  Page 124  |  Page 125  |  Page 126  |  Page 127  |  Page 128  |  Page 129  |  Page 130  |  Page 131  |  Page 132  |  Page 133  |  Page 134  |  Page 135  |  Page 136  |  Page 137  |  Page 138  |  Page 139  |  Page 140  |  Page 141  |  Page 142  |  Page 143  |  Page 144  |  Page 145  |  Page 146  |  Page 147  |  Page 148  |  Page 149  |  Page 150  |  Page 151  |  Page 152  |  Page 153  |  Page 154  |  Page 155  |  Page 156