Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain. Its key responsibilities include maintaining and upgrading the rail infrastructure, timetabling passenger and freight services, managing stations, and working closely with passenger and freight train operating companies to deliver a safe, reliable, efficient rail service. As a public body, Network Rail aims to serve the interests of rail users, the government, train companies, and the wider community in developing and operating Britain’s rail network.
The PACE (Project Acceleration in a Controlled Environment) Framework, developed by Network Rail, is a methodology designed to guide project management within a structured yet flexible environment. Network Rail wanted to provide clarity and access to their project methodology, standards and guidance resources across the UK rail industry. The objective was to ensure that employees and the supply chain could access the information they need when they need it.
Previously, accessing, maintaining, and communicating PACE standards, product descriptions, templates, training, and guidance resources was challenging due to technology constraints and the scale of the regionalised nature of the organisation and the diverse range of suppliers. These challenges negatively impacted productivity, efficiency, adoption and compliance.
Solution and Approach
We addressed this challenge by creating the first publicly accessible digital playbook, tailored specifically for Network Rail. This playbook was developed using the Method Grid platform, to provide universal (read only) access to the PACE Framework.
Our approach was multifaceted. Firstly, working in close collaboration with Network Rail colleagues, we integrated existing PACE standards, products, and a variety of guidance resources, using our experience and expertise in building playbooks, into the existing PACE Product Index. These elements are crucial for project professionals, and by making them readily available in a digital format, we significantly improved accessibility and usability.
We adopted a logical lifecycle format, which intuitively organises information in a way that mirrors the real-life application of PACE. This approach ensures that users can find relevant information quickly and efficiently, directly corresponding to their specific stage in the PACE lifecycle.
We recognised the importance of visual and interactive learning. Hence, we incorporated video explainers into the playbook. These videos provide clear, concise explanations of complex concepts, making them more digestible and engaging for users.
Looking forward, the integration of training resources across the playbook is a key future development. This enhancement will ensure that people can access the relevant learning resources required to build confidence and competency in project execution.
In summary, through the launch of the PACE digital playbook, we have enabled Network Rail to realise a key milestone in their vision for PACE by ensuring employees and the wider supply chain have access to the information they need when they need it.
As the project progressed, the critical importance of adhering to Accessibility Regulations became increasingly evident. Recognising this, we undertook a focused effort to ensure both the platform and its content were fully compliant with UK Government Standards. We made targeted adjustments to enhance accessibility, introducing features specifically designed to support users with diverse needs. These enhancements significantly broadened the usability of the digital playbook, making it not only more efficient and user-friendly but also inclusive and accessible to a wider audience. This commitment to comprehensive accessibility strongly reflects Network Rail’s dedication to inclusivity.
In parallel, there was a collaborative effort between the Method Grid team and the Network Rail standards team. This partnership was instrumental in developing a prototype for accessing the P3M Standards. These standards, crucial for the project’s success, have been thoughtfully integrated into a separate yet interconnected Standards Library. This library provides a streamlined user experience by presenting concise summaries of each standard, including details of associated modules, and is enriched with explanatory video content.
Outcomes and Benefits
The digital transformation of Network Rail’s project methodology through the PACE playbook has yielded substantial benefits, with a distinct focus on improving accessibility and productivity. The primary goal of this initiative was to ensure that employees and supply chain can access the information they need when they need it. This streamlined access is pivotal in enhancing productivity by significantly reducing the time spent searching for information, guidance, templates, and expert support.
To put this into perspective, with c.20,000 people utilising PACE across the industry, even a modest saving of one hour per person translates into an additional 2,500 working days available for the industry. This increase in productivity directly supports the strategic imperative of drastically reducing average project schedule length (a key pillar of the SPEED Initiative).
Financially, the PACE playbook has led to process streamlining, resulting in notable cost savings and enhanced budgeting efficiency. For the workforce, it has fostered improved collaboration and engagement, while also facilitating professional growth through its user-friendly interface and easily accessible resources.
You can read more about the Digital PACE project in our series of blogs going through each stage of the project.
You can listen to one of the architects of the Digital PACE Framework, Network Rail’s Programme Management Director Mike Wright discuss the project in this video:
Network Rail GRIDtalk
If you would like to learn more about the collaboration between Network Rail and Method Grid, join us for our next GRIDtalk, where we will delve into the transformative world of Digital PACE within Network Rail and its impact on the UK rail industry.
This session will discuss the challenges that necessitated the Digital PACE Framework’s innovative design. Showcasing the tangible benefits PACE has brought to Network Rail since its launch and providing a glimpse into the future enhancements that will empower project management professionals in the UK rail sector.
Whether you’re looking to understand the nuances of Digital PACE, interested in the digital advancements in rail project management or keen on the strategic directions of Network Rail, this session will provide valuable insights.