Digital PACE

Method Grid and Network Rail: Digital PACE Part 1

The deployment of Network Rail’s PACE framework onto a digital platform is taking place today, January 11th 2024.

This collaborative project between Network Rail and Method Grid sees the creation of a world-class project delivery playbook for the UK rail industry – integrating knowledge, experience, and standards – to help teams deliver projects in a controlled environment successfully. 

Over the next three weeks, we will explore the different stages of this project, starting by discussing the situation Network Rail was in initially, how Network Rail harnessed the Method Grid platform and, finally, the status of Digital PACE following its deployment.  

Throughout this series, you will discover how Network Rail – who are at the heart of revitalising Britain’s railway, getting people and goods where they need to be and supporting the economy – utilised the Method Grid platform to enhance industry-wide collaboration and to showcase their global delivery expertise. 

 

What are PACE, GRIP and SPEED? 

PACE stands for Project Acceleration in a Controlled Environment. PACE replaced GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects), which was previously in place for the controlled delivery of railway investment projects. Since being approved in November 2020, PACE has been applied to projects from c. January 2021.  

PACE is a product-based methodology where national and in some cases, regional templates are used to assess, plan and evidence project requirements and progress for each phase of the project lifecycle.

GRIP was seen as too rigid a methodology, resulting in unnecessary project delays, whereas the PACE framework allows project managers to autonomously adapt their approach and decision-making in ways they couldn’t do before. It is a more flexible control framework compared to GRIP – allowing sponsors and project management to tailor controls to better meet the requirements of their specific project’s risk profile. 

The PACE Product Index serves as a core project resource designed to help project teams navigate the PACE lifecycle by providing an in-depth understanding of each phase and theme. PACE has four main phases, which take the project through the PACE lifecycle – Strategic Development and Project Selection, Project Design, Project Delivery and Project Close. Each phase has different milestones and there is an Initiate phase before projects begin. 

PACE is an integral part of SPEED (Swift, Pragmatic and Efficient Enhancement Delivery), a joint initiative between the Department for Transport and Network Rail post-COVID. SPEED aims to help deliver public investment projects at speed and reduced cost. 

According to Network Rail, the aims of project SPEED are: outcome-focused, accountability and empowerment, integrity and trust and service focus, all of which PACE supports. The transition between GRIP and PACE got to the point where it was agreed to digitise the PACE Index to make it more accessible, transparent and easy to use. 

 

How was PACE previously used? 

As discussed in our GRIDtalk last year, with Network Rail Project Manager Emma Smith, previously, the PACE Product Index that Network Rail used was presented in a spreadsheet format – downloaded and saved for each new project. This spreadsheet then linked to an array of valuable content (templates, guidance and website links) that Network Rail’s project teams are required to use to follow the PACE lifecycle and to fully comply with all related standards and legislation.  

Whilst this presentation form had benefits when compared to previous ways of doing things it required modernising in order to derive the necessary transparency, efficiency and project oversight required. 

This new (digital) presentation was required to ensure control consistency, a more efficient use of knowledge resources and to facilitate greater collaboration between teams across different rail projects. The new PACE Digital Product Index is a live resource to be used throughout the project’s lifecycle. There is a wealth of information ranging from detailed product descriptions, standardised templates, valuable hints and tips, videos, and expert guidance to legislation and best practice are kept up-to-date within the national PACE Product Index. This is where Method Grid enters the picture. 

 

Method Grid and Network Rail

Method Grid is an AI-empowered knowledge and project management platform that enables clients to build, deliver, assure and enhance corporate playbooks. 

Using Method Grid, you can develop master playbooks crafted to how you want to deliver projects or a particular service. Once built it is easy to clone and tailor it for each new instance. The result is increased management-ownership for project teams, who can tailor or ‘right size’ a delivery playbook for their specific, local circumstances. With the full Method Grid licence model, this allows such teams to assure delivery – ticking their way through key (evidence attached) controls and, post project delivery, to feedback enhancements to a central ‘master’ playbook – thus enabling a continuous improvement loop. 

Together, the Network Rail and Method Grid collaboration was able to develop Digital PACE – on the Method Grid platform – as an optimised digital playbook for the UK rail industry. In the next article, we will discuss the work that was undertaken to get to this point. 

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