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The Commercial Directors’ Forum was also cited as a key example of change, where the rail industry can now meet and make joint decisions on how to drive performance


“It defi nitely isn’t a Network Rail-led thing in that we have a pre-set outcome that we’re just using that forum to get to,” McLoughlin said. “It’s genuine discussion and decision, from the fl oor, about how we move forward.”


Talking to tier 2


Whilst communication is improving with tier 1 suppliers, the rest of the supply chain has often felt ignored in the past. On March 22, Network Rail held its fi rst tier 2 suppliers’ conference – for many companies, it was the fi rst time they had ever spoken to someone from Network Rail, let alone been invited to give their views on engagement and delivery.


The majority of Network Rail’s spend actually goes through the supply chain to these companies, meaning that it is important for Network Rail to manage this relationship, Ferrier highlighted.


RTM attended that conference and saw fi rst- hand the discussion and ideas that were evident further down the supply chain; the April/May 2012 edition of the magazine reported on the event in detail.


Cocks labelled it a “bold step” and added: “There’s an expectation now that that’s going


Survey results


70 companies took part in the seventh Network Rail Suppliers Perception survey, conducted between 5 March and 25 April 2012. 57% were prepared to be named, up from 39% in 2007, giving a “key indication” that suppliers now feel more comfortable being open about what they really think of Network Rail.


Advocacy of Network Rail is now at its highest-ever level, with half of suppliers who responsed speaking highly of Network Rail when asked their opinion, and 13%


To improve confi dence and to have more effective discussions with suppliers, Network Rail has introduced the ‘PRISM’ process. Whilst the title is not actually an acronym, it could be interpreted as a ‘kaleidoscope of perspectives’ on the performance of various projects, attendees suggested.


Prism requires each Network Rail project manager and supplier to sit down together to evaluate and document their respective performances. This can present a clear picture of the areas where performance needs work and exactly why things are going wrong.


Ferrier clarifi ed that Prism also scores and ranks individual projects to celebrate the best and – perhaps more importantly – identify where efforts need to be focused to improve performance, “before it’s too late”.


Making the fi rst move Discussing the Fair Payment Charter, which


speaking highly of the company even without prompting. Only 15% were critical, with another 22% neutral.


Loosley said: “It’s a good set of results, they are positive. The trust in their relationship with Network Rail is improving.”


Overall satisfaction has risen, driven by a fall in dissatisfi ed customers from 16% to 6% between 2011 and 2012, with ‘satisfi ed’ / ‘very satisfi ed’ ratings up from 63% to 72%. For the fi rst time, more suppliers say Network Rail is easier to work with than say


He explained: “It’s the start of a fully engaged supply base, a belief from the suppliers that when you say you will do something, you will do it.”


To take the supply chain through this journey, “you have to give something” and in this instance the initiative required Network Rail to make the fi rst move and adjust its payment periods accordingly. The company has now moved to paying suppliers in just 21 days, down from 56 – leaving suppliers seven working days to move the money on down the supply chain to comply with the Charter.


McLoughlin said: “We’re moving into an environment where all of that is possible, right now. We’ve got a great chance of grasping that and making the best of it and making this industry the best place that we can for people to work in.”


At opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com TELL US WHAT YOU THINK


to happen more often.”


The conference was due to be repeated, McLoughlin confi rmed.


He reiterated: “The most important thing we have to do is follow that up with action; we’re not just talking the talk; we’re actually doing this stuff as well.”


A kaleidoscope of perspectives


requires suppliers to pledge to pay their contractors within 28 days, McLoughlin said: “Someone has to put their hand up and start.”


Network Rail’s top 30 suppliers have signed up to the charter, promising to pay their contractors quickly and effi ciently. This would take some time to embed, McLoughlin admitted, and called for the industry to collectively continue to put pressure on suppliers to live up to their word.


it is more diffi cult to work with.


Almost four in fi ve think that Network Rail has improved the way it collaborates with them over the last twelve months, and is seen as moving towards a more collaborative working style but still needs to work to become better.


However, improvements in design remain static and innovation has decreased in performance; more suppliers disagree that Network Rail makes it easier for them to be innovative than agree.


The roundtable was held at Network Rail’s new national centre in Milton Keynes, known as MK:The Quadrant.


rail technology magazine Aug/Sep 12 | 23


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