Network Rail own, repair and develop the railway infrastructure in England, Scotland and Wales. That’s 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. They manage 20 of the country’s largest stations. They are responsible and accountable for £10bn + of spend per annum, making cost certainty, control and confidence of paramount importance to their investors and customers. Arcadis have been working with the Centre of Excellence to design, develop and deploy a new cost stack architecture that revolutionises the way costs are created, captured, managed and ultimately benchmarked. The Digital Transformation Programme enables the shift to accessible, accurate and sustainable cost benchmarking insight for Network Rail and rail industry stakeholders.
Network Rail moved to a different model for funding railway enhancements in CP6, such that each project is now funded on a standalone basis, based on the strength of its business case. Confidence and security in cost is a key factor for funders in deciding which schemes to support.
Network Rail were also looking to deliver schemes to “shovel ready” status as quickly as possible, in line with the UK Government’s Project Speed initiative. Again – confidence in cost is key to this status.
The existing cost capture process was labour-intensive and inefficient, resulting in inaccurate data and unreliable benchmarking. Misunderstandings and inconsistencies stemmed from a complicated structure which lacked detail and clarity. Meaning transforming data into information was subjective and time-consuming, negatively affecting the quality of benchmarks across the organisation.
The Client has previously sponsored multiple initiatives to improve cost forecasting and prediction. However, was still faced with multiple data sets, differences in cost structures and estimating approaches, and a history of cost out-turns being very different to early-stage estimates.
The Digital Transformation was subtle. We worked with the client’s IT team and systems in place to create a suite of apps ‘the BenchSmart Solution’, that standardise the cost capture process and provide benchmarking insight to decision making stakeholders at all stages of project, programme and enterprise lifecycle. This approach ensured focus was given to the challenge of inaccurate data and unreliable benchmarking.
There are four core benefits of the BenchSmart solution:
- Increased accessibility of data
- Increased data accuracy
- Greater insights
- Increased focus on industry stakeholders
One of the BenchSmart tools – Rangefinder – has been developed alongside the Department for Transport (DfT) and allows stakeholders within Network Rail and external, both in the supply chain or from potential funders, to view historic project cost data to benchmark against for comparable projects within the early development stage.
The cost capture architecture used by Network Rail has been amended to better suit the needs of senior stakeholders across the industry to inform decision making. This structure is also compatible with the Infrastructure Project Authority’s (IPA) single-source data repository, with data starting to be shared across the public sector to increase the opportunity for learning lessons and giving confidence to support securing funding for investment delivery projects.
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