This case study explains how focusing on the delivery of benefits, rather than outputs, created a working culture and the processes that were key to the success of the London Bridge station redevelopment project.
London Bridge Area Partnership has been found to be an example of a client acting maturely and approaching a very challenging project in a way that was both innovative and based on experience. This was the first time Network Rail had adopted a programme management approach (as opposed to managing a suite of projects) and was thus able to focus on the delivery of benefits, as opposed to outputs. Network Rail provided strong leadership where appropriate, acknowledged the strengths and weaknesses of the supply chain and put in place a collaborative environment that allowed all partners to work together in a mutually beneficial way.
The working culture and the processes that were put in place on the London Bridge project were key to its success and there would have been significant risk of failure, particularly around programme, if a more traditional approach had been adopted. This case study explains what the industry can learn from this approach, and how it could be just as powerful on future projects.
Key success factors for collaborative delivery
The delivery of the London Bridge Station project is widely acknowledged to have been extremely challenging because of its scale, complexity and the requirement to deliver the works whilst the station remained fully operational. The collaborative working model implemented through LBAP was a powerful enabler for delivery within the original programme and the management of 4,500 possessions with only one significant overrun.
LBAP promoted a team spirit and a working culture that put safety and the overall health of the project as the absolute priority with any commercial tensions dealt with openly so that they did not get in the way of delivery. Collaboration was so well embedded that the staff working on the project did not primarily identify with their parent organisations but saw themselves as part of a joined-up London Bridge delivery team; a true example of partnership working.
There were a large number of individual measures that contributed to the success of collaborative delivery (details are available on request). The following were some of the key enablers:
Network Rail carried out detailed analysis in the selection of the commercial model and procurement strategy. Lessons were learnt from KO1 as regards agile decision-making, the allocation of risk and the potential for alliancing. There was early and in-depth engagement with other infrastructure clients and major contractors to gather intelligence on incentivisation and ECI.
The decision to go down the partnering route and the use of ECC Option X12 gave the required functionality around risk and reward and put in place the foundations for collaboration around shared objectives.
The early involvement of the supply chain is becoming more widespread across Network Rail and LBAP shows how powerful the approach can be. The team learnt lessons from KO1 where there had been a lack of continuity between the ECI providers and the delivery phase. There was a commitment that if contractors delivered ECI well they would stay on to build the project and this paid dividends.
ECI was carried out earlier than ‘usual’ and this allowed for a wide scope of activities which helped to build confidence around constructability, the master schedule and pricing. The work done at ECI was a key building block of the collaborative culture that developed later. The vast majority of the master schedule planned during the ECI phase has stood the test of time.
The right people for the job – Change them if they’re not
The London Bridge redevelopment was a very complex and also a very high profile project and Network Rail assembled a team of professionals with the right skills and experience to deliver it. The prestige of the project and the collaborative culture was a key element in staff retention with many people staying on the project from inception to completion.
There was an acceptance that some people find collaborative working more difficult than others. Some people who were more comfortable working in a more ‘traditional’ way were able to adapt and change. In some instances, though this wasn’t the case and personnel had to be changed for the benefit of the project.
The skills and aptitudes needed to develop the contractual and governance arrangements for a collaborative arrangement are not necessarily the same as those needed to lead it. Changes in LBAP leadership saw a significant improvement in the operation of the Partnership.