The 2014: Supply Chain Forum (Rail Infrastructure)

5 08 2014

Do you feel your organisation has a good reputation for project delivery? Are you used to reacting to a crisis and going the extra mile? That is great, but it can be exhausting!! It is certainly not sustainable in the long-term. Can you influence change, or do things differently to achieve better outcomes? Perhaps it is time to review and rebalance your resources, competences and energy to create a sustainable, long-term, effective supply chain strategy.

Rail Champions and Rail Professional Magazine have come together to share nearly two decades of industry research, and review the Governments latest thinking on essential cost planning and procurement. Meet with over 75 rail industry executives and learn how to develop meaningful joint objectives and customer driven supply chains.

With over £37+bn rail contracts to be delivered over the next five years, companies must conduct a health check and gap analysis on their business to ensure they remain competitive, and can demonstrate effective management of customers, suppliers and external collaborator relationships.

The time has come for lean and agile suppliers (large or small) to challenge some of the BIGGEST names in the construction industry. Successful organisations have reputation and culture based on transparency, trust and value creation. It is clear some SMEs have already won favour within Network Rail, and Transport for London (London Underground), with £multi-million contracts placed on the Southern Frameworks and STAKE.

The Supply Chain Forum, which will be held on the 6th November (London), will help raise awareness of what ‘Supply Chain Excellence’ looks like, and explore some of the key challenges faced by Tiers 1-3 in the rail industry today. Through workshops and execution of strategic business strategies, you will be able to align key principles, behaviours and values that reflect your own business goals. Command future engagements with an effective; clear understanding of the correct governance, objectives and drivers needed for each new opportunity.

The rise of the super-contractor: Some Tier 2 contractors are now leading major project delivery, so it is essential their supply chain partners understand their goals and how to meet their clients’ key objectives. Previously, the holy grail of project management was simply delivering on time and to budget. We are now faced with three new models of procurement in the Construction industry, all designed to procure new infrastructure for less. The key objective is to offer some cost certainty, which delivers better value in the medium-long term future of the construction industry (of which the rail industry contributes.)

It is quite reasonable to consider the whole construction industry is poised to undergoing a major overhaul, with the emergence of a new global Super-Contractors emerging. This comes at a time when many constructors are either consolidating resources, moving out of the rail sector completely, or focusing on core competences.

We must also remember the main focus of many organisations over the next 12-18m may be to repair balance sheets after weathering the storm of a prolonged global recession. Leaders are under pressure to develop increased value and maintain profitable growth.

Looking to the future: A key principle underpinning the Government’s sector approach is to back those sectors, which are likely to have prospects for success in the future, in terms of generating increased value added and employment in the UK economy. In this respect, it is important to consider the key economic, social and wider drivers of growth and their relevance to the rail industrys potential over the next decade.

The main drivers are likely to be:

• Aligning objectives of Network Rail and the Train Operating Companies.

• Cutting costs and changes in patterns of demand.

• Changing business practices and new technology.

• Opportunities for job creation and skills development.

• Increasing demand for environmental products, processes and standards.

Rail Champions along with its partners has developed game-changing strategies that you need to know and will help you navigate this complex landscape over time. We will give you a roadmap and the compass to master 21st Century Supply Chain Management.

Gain the competitive edge: The supply chain forum is not only well timed it is also content driven. Industry leaders will come together to help you gain a competitive edge on some of your biggest opportunities. Use this session to enhance your skills, provide a platform for business enhancement and overcome potential barriers or obstacles, which may fall in your way in the future. Learn from insightful expert panel discussions; get an exclusive first look into the latest supply chain thinking, and 1-2-1 collaborative working surgeries.

Invest some time in the present to solve predictable problems before they happen!
This unique opportunity will allow ‘knowledge transfer’ from infrastructure providers/users, policy makers and leading suppliers wishing to make a step change in supply chain delivery. Discussions may not be project specific, but you will be able to put your questions to qualified industry guru’s that have helped shape the administration of Crossrail, CP5 and HS2

Top five reasons to attend:

1. Be seen as an all-star, high-reliability organisation.
2. Enhance your skills and build a compelling supply chain strategy.
3. Add value to multiple opportunities.
4. Compare new strategies on how to engage with Tier 1 and 2 Contractors.
5. Lead change in your specialist field. Be part of the debate, and provide the solution.

Learning outcomes: As well as hearing updates on Rail Infrastructure Procurement Policy, Responsible Procurement and case studies on Supply Chain Excellence, we will be running several 30 minute, live, interactive workshop sessions aimed at developing your understanding on key rail industry drivers. These workshops are designed to provide you with a comprehensive overview of framework opportunities; including what bearing contract value and risk have on how buyers conduct their procurement processes.

We will also examine how buyers and suppliers interact and will give you practical insight into ‘collaborative relationships’ and the processes and procedures that support it.

Shared objectives: This event will help suppliers align objectives and support Tier 1 and 2 Contractors deliver major rail investment projects, involving cross industry leadership and collaboration. There are few sectors as fast-moving or challenging as the rail industry, but it’s the people that make the real difference. Some of the speakers at the Supply Chain Forum have been the public face of transformation in the Transport Sector, and Rail Champions together with Rail Professional are proud to deliver this conference that will support business executives with the determination and vision to deliver real results in the next Control Period (CP5).

Supporting organisations: Achilles, Action Sustainability, Brian Farrington Limited, CH2M Hill, Constructing Better Health, Daventry Business and Consultancy Services (DBACS), Inspiring Safety Solutions, Institute for Collaborative Working (ICW), Mend London, Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), Network Rail, PERA Technology, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to name but a few.

Strategic plenary sessions: By the time this edition of Rail Professional goes to press, we will have held yet another industry VIP Round Table Discussion with our partners from CH2M Hill and the Royal Institute of Surveyors (RICS) and co-sponsored by VVB Engineering Limited. The latest session covers Effective Cost Planning – with support from ‘enlightened’ policy makers and commissioners including; Martin Rowak (Director, TfL), David Hawkins (Director, Institute for Collaborative Working), Sean McCarthy OBE (Director, Action Sustainability), Stephen Blakey (Commercial Projects Director, Network Rail), and Denise Bower (Director, Major Projects Association). The output from which will be available via RICS and repeated on our website in the coming months.

Business enhancement: As always, Rail Champions is on hand at any time to support a specific development area, should you need it? Whether your focus is on collaboration, lean supply chain development or sustainability. Our team has over 40 years combined experience on some of the UKs largest infrastructure projects. We will work with you to identify a growth strategy that meets your current and future requirements.

From experience, it is better to solve business critical issues before they happen, and problems often represent the biggest opportunities for SMEs. We are confident the Supply Chain Forum will help empower your decision making by taking on a ‘shared view’ of the future based upon hard facts, alignment of core goals and making your customers even more successful.

Reserve your place now, whilst there are still tickets available.

Contact Dean Salisbury for sponsorship opportunities.

Hope to see you there!

Kind regards,

Chris Williams-Lilley
Rail Champions

Follow updates by following @RailChampions and @EventsRailPro or use #SCFLondon hashtag.


Building a message map – Solve for Interesting

1 03 2016

Source: Building a message map – Solve for Interesting

Why Hire a Chief People Officer

6 08 2015

Why Hire a Chief People Officer.

Opentree Embrace The Digital Revolution (Railtex 2015)

17 04 2015

Railtex 2015 Banner
The rail industry is an area Opentree have worked in for many years. We are continually helping organisations such as Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Siemens and Signalling Solutions to advance their operations and streamline electronic document management systems, in order to make processes more efficient.

Thanks to our reputation in the sector, we’re really proud to announce that our MD, Andrew Frank, has been invited to take part in a major, international rail industry conference next month, discussing the future of innovation.

Railtex takes place from May 12th- 14th at the NEC in Birmingham and is the international exhibition of railway equipment systems and services. Andrew has been invited to take part in the event by Chris Williams-Lilley, the MD of Rail Champions who organise the exhibition.

Rail Champions helps clients acquire, manage and retain new customers in the UK rail sector and has built its reputation on developing strong client relationships within railway power, signalling, telecom and smart ticketing fields. They provide business advice, hands-on support, coaching and networking opportunities for suppliers in the UK rail sector.

Andrew will be taking part in The Platform discussion entitled ‘The Problem with Innovation’ and, as an innovator in his own field, Andrew will be dispelling some of the myths about the difficulties of implementing new technology by explaining how developments can hugely improve business operations and, ultimately, make an organisation more profitable.

Andrew said: “This is a really unique and exciting opportunity for me to meet the key decision makers in the UK rail sector and beyond. I am really looking forward to being able to share my own knowledge with those in the rail industry and to help them understand that innovation really isn’t anything to be afraid of and that it can really enhance their organisations. I’ll be able to share Opentree’s varied experiences of working in rail with organisations such as Atkins, explaining how we have implemented new systems quickly and easily to speed up a whole host of operations.”

Contact: Andrew Frank (Managing Director, Opentree)


URL: Providers of Cabinet Software


If You Do Not Like Change, You are Going To Hate Extinction!

20 03 2015

At the recent CompeteFor: Supply Chain Summit, I gave a keynote on the hidden benefits of collaboration. The single message that connected with Infrastructure-UK, Thames Tideway, Laing o’Rourke, Kier and Balfour Beatty, was the need to be innovative.

First of all, if you are bidding or working on large scale Public Sector Infrastructure Projects in either the rail or highways sector, you know how the landscape has changed. Some big names from the construction industry have failed to reinvent themselves, becoming complacent with past performance; the net result was liquidation of the company, loss of jobs and negative impacts on the resultant supply chain.

Let’s explore together some ideas which will help you connect-the-dots on future bids, create value and learn from my experiences. My message here is, you may have better ideas than I do, but the focus is not on perfection, but success.

Our reach into client organisations and their supply chains helps us understand both commercial and technical aspects of procurement and programme delivery. As suppliers, we need to know how to create products and services that customers want. However, first, we need to understand our clients’ biggest challenges.

Market Intelligence

With as much as 80% of work subcontracted by the (Tier1) Principal Contractor, it is imperative your organisation knows how to engage with the supply chain, understand mutually dependency, connect to buyers and tender for profitable repeatable growth. Do you see partnering as a way forward? Does everyone in your organisation understand your vision, mission and objectives for the next twelve months? Do you understand why some collaborative relationships fail?

Our approach is based upon three fundamental principles.

• Performance Linkage (the what, where, when and how)
• Honest Conversations (having a culture of openness and principal based values)
• Focus on Action (working only on high-value initiatives, which drive triple bottom line growth)

Over the past four years BS 11000 (Collaborative Business Relationships) has had a profound effect on the rail industry. It has helped save money and build shared purpose in the supply chain. Something the humble Quantity Surveyor (QS) should embrace [wry smile].

Fundamentally, it has shown how important culture and values are in the organisation. If you have a large workforce, many of who are CIS and not PAYE, it may be hard to implement a culture change, or tackle the skills challenge, as the team improves project-by-project. Perhaps this is something you have experienced yourself. So take my advice, measure the level of collaboration in your organisation. Look at core competencies. Value insights from your people. Prepare for change, as failure to embrace the new world of opportunities will lead to your extinction, just like the dinosaurs.

New Models of Construction Procurement

Through our VIP Round Table Sessions, we are working with many client organisations. The words they use are not just window dressing; they are showing greater client leadership and move towards alliance partnerships. This is some ways a response to the New Models of Construction Procurement published by the Government last year.

The Government Construction Task Group report 2012 highlighted very real challenges in construction procurement. Addressing these, the Government Construction Strategy set out an explicit commitment to trialling new models of procurement that include principles of early supplier engagement, transparency of cost, integrated team working and collaborative working. The models are therefore entirely consistent with the ambitions of the Industrial Strategy for Construction. Case studies of the trial projects show how these models have been used efficiently, and achieving other benefits. Guess what? Innovation and collaboration feature highly!

Knowing this, you can then focus on your customers project or programme objectives. You can then align your vision, mission and values to establish your own supply chain governance, set strategic goals and identify areas for improvement. Taking it one step further, perhaps work with trusted supply chain partners on PQQ’s or ITT’s, to develop win themes and find better, more efficient ways of working. We do this all the time, facilitating SME’s supply chain workshops, focusing on value creation, risk management and cost certainty. However, if cost is the primary goal, then the environment is not right for collaborative working.

Customer Management

If you are a leader of a team, you have a responsibility to help people focus on what is most important. You need to understand how your customers buy [when and how]. You should always quantify their needs and go beyond products and services to succeed and create lasting value.

Let me share a story with you…

Our Customer Management Scorecard was developed for a major Tier 3 client. They were suffering from bid overload. We listened to the board, spoke with their people, and challenged the way they were thinking. If they wanted to access higher value projects, they just needed to align their strategy with partners who valued their input, and not be distracted on low cost, high volume bids. Taking stock of their growth strategy, putting priority onto partnering helped influence [not impose] a change of mindset. We helped the proposal sales team focus on making their customers more successful. For me, this was true customer management. Today, twelve months later, they are working on large road and rail frameworks. Yes, the business model has shifted, but so too has their productivity and client focus. They have a clear path forward, deliberately concentrated on innovative ideas which yield bottom line results.

Why Some Partnerships Fail

Too many collaborations collapse when projects go commercial. However, many issues can be resolved or avoided when the environment and behaviours are based upon the timeless principles of BS11000. If you see an email footer or website expounding values, if the organisation live by these values 80% of the time, they are deemed to be authentic. You cannot publish a list of values and expect them to transform the way you work. It takes time and no small amount of effort to change.

Listen to your inner voice next time you are in a meeting, and take note if the organisation is founded on high-trust principles. With business and personal relationships, we all benefit from talking straight and following through with our actions. The opposite creates friction and distrust, which often leads to conflict and loss of respect.

Avoid Extinction

A greater appreciation of what your customer is looking for will help you make better decisions. Avoid wasting time on things that don’t add value or act as a distraction on your projects. Capture best practice, and learn from your experiences.

After reading this article, I hope you will think about how you can add value to your client relationships, it will help you outmanoeuvre your nearest competitors. It is not always cost. It could be about the hidden benefits of collaboration with the customer or the supply chain. Having worked with many client organisations on supply chain engagement, it is becoming the “way we do business around here.”

The CompeteFor: Supply Chain Summit was all about horizon scanning. What can your organisation do to access some of the biggest contracts in the UK? I hope you can now visualize alignment in your business, make better choices and build deeper client relationships.

The future of Public Sector Frameworks is built on radical transparency. It will help you build trusted partnerships and transform employee engagement. If you can capture the actual benefit of your business, you will be able to improve systems and processes. Make a conscious effort to move towards a high-reliability organisation, and I know you’ll prosper in 2015 and beyond.


Success does not just happen by accident. Partnering may not be the best model for you, but you have to be equipped for the future. Spend time getting to know your customers and develop sustainable supply chain partners. Understand where you can add value (at each and every opportunity), how you fit into the supply chain and how to avoid low trust behaviours.

If you have trouble identifying your starting points, we can help. It is all about making informed choices, taking decisive action to influence change, with a focus on smart solutions that create lasting value for your stakeholders.

Remember the story earlier about a conveyor belt of bids? Spend your time wisely. Be strategic and start to analyse why your customers value your ideas more than your competitors. Good luck!

Chris Williams-Lilley
Founder and Managing Director

Leadership Champions (UK) Limited

Five Tips For Successful Supply Chain Engagement

16 02 2015

Those wonderful people at CompeteFor have asked us for some tips on large infrastructure supply chain engagement.  We’ll it was not hard to come up with our Top Five Tips!   Whatever you do, whatever market your working in, the guidelines here are transferrable.  Use these simple principles to transform you sales pipelines. 


  1. Begin with a customer profile: Have you ever sat down with a client and used simple tools to create value, identify pain points and agree next steps? Sounds easy, but why not take this one step further and challenge your thinking and go beyond your products and services. Try to understand ‘exactly’ what, when and how you will deliver best value for your customers. Sometimes this means working with your (trusted) supply chain partners!
  1. Value mapping: Sometimes a shared language is all that is needed to unlock real potential. It is an excellent way to understand your customer’s real problems better. If you can ‘collectively’ establish genuine dialogue built on common goals and objectives, then more mature solutions should follow. Try not to get distracted by unproductive “blah blah blah” meetings. You need to structure early engagements to build trust quickly and end up with clear outcomes.
  1. Identify your starting point: Avoid wasting time with ideas that will not work. Leverage the experience and skills of your team to conduct more constructed sales conversations. Make your actions count, make them smart and time bound.   If you are working with a new client, produce proof that your ideas can work on a limited budget (or pilot programme). If you are working on long-term relationships, evolve! Look for opportunities to innovate at every opportunity.
  1. Make informed choices: With a high appreciation of what your customer is looking for, use speedy decision-making and agility within your organisation to your advantage. This means outmanoeuvring your competitors! Working with new partners or team members in established frameworks needs careful consideration, planning and execution. Use client profiling and value mapping (steps 1 and 2) for each supplier, to quickly get buy-in and find new ways to create value together!
  1. Create alignment? Radical transparency is the new word in supply chain thinking! If you want to be successful in the future, you need to understand how your organisation is making money and where it is leaking from the business. Alignment of core business operations and creating value propositions your customer will value is paramount!   Adopt simple reporting mechanisms to measure and monitor your organisations performance, which these days includes agreed behaviours, cost management and customer satisfaction.   That way you can tailor ‘genuine’ client engagement and improve systems and processes that can be understood and shared across other business units.


By following these simple steps above, you will find your days are more productive, your sales conversations will be structured, and your competitors will be left wondering…‘how.’ you outwitted them! 

If you need help launching this process within your teams or on your next project, we would be delighted to help you achieve the success you deserve.

Contact us at we would be delighted to hear from you.

Hear all about the ‘Hidden Benefits of Collaboration’ at the Supply Chain Summit on 10 March 2015 (Olympia, London).  Chris Williams-Lilley to share insight and real value creation ideas for sales professionals working in the rail sector.


Railway’s 3Rs- Roles, Regulation, Responsibility.

23 01 2015

Noise Vibration Action Group

Roles- Who Regulates Noise Pollution& Vibration Emitted by UK Railways?
Is it Richard Price, CEO of the UK Office of Rail Regulation? Or the team of ORR executive directors listed here.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR), and sustainability are high profile for any organization of good standing. For a publicly-funded body, a body responsible to government and public, a body that regulates national infrastructure, one would have thought CSR and sustainability would be the bread and butter of what they do. On the basis that ORR and the rail operators should act in a socially responsible manner, have a look at this ORR infographic of Network Rail targets for 2019 (this graphic was produced by ORR, not NVAG).

Anything Missing ?
There’s plenty in the infographic on increasing capacity, improving the network, reliable trains, maintenance, cutting costs . . . but what about CSR and sustainability?

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