Inevitably for such a large programme, Crossrail had a complex structure. There were two sponsors – DfT and TfL – to whom we had to provide regular progress reports. The two Programme Partners were contracted to manage the delivery of the works on behalf of Crossrail. And the relatively small Crossrail organisation was sandwiched in between. The scope of one of the Programme Partners included providing programme controls and report preparation.
As construction got under way, the sponsors scrutinised monthly reports increasingly closely . They made it clear that the information provided was not meeting their expectations. As you would expect, we first worked with those supplying reports to try to improve the output. Despite changes of personnel this had little effect. It became clear to me that this was treating the symptoms, and not the underlying cause. The fundamental issue was structural. One contracting organisation was never likely to be able to report effectively on the other’s areas of work. This was because it was not itself the client and was in competition with the second organisation for the client’s work. The solution had to be to bring Programme Controls directly under Crossrail’s management.
I won acceptance for this insight from the Programme Director, and initiated the successful recruitment of a Programme Controls Director. It was expected to be six months before a suitable candidate would be in post. Consequently I directed a project to rebuild the Programme Controls team and its processes. This meant that on arrival he would have an organisation to run which was already effectively independent of the Partners. The project was successful, overcoming the concerns of the sponsors about reporting within a short time of the new Director starting at Crossrail.
Keys to success
- Seeing beyond the symptoms to understand the underlying cause
- Making a compelling case for the proposed change
- Managing expectations of stakeholders effectively
- Managing the details while keeping the big-picture objectives clearly in mind