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Crossrail lowers risk through universal management system

Europe’s largest infrastructure project is taking an integrated approach to risk management throughout the supply chain.

Building Europe’s largest infrastructure project is a complex job, to say the least. The construction of Crossrail involves multiple works being carried out across the whole route at the same time, building eight new underground stations that need to be connected to the existing system and a multitude of additional building works both above and below ground.

The £14.5 billion project will also see 42 km of new tunnels running under London, sometimes up to 40 m below ground. And all this must happen around the existing, extremely busy transport network without causing undue disruption.

Mandating risk management

A project of this scale and size is not without its risks, and to manage that risk down the supply chain the Crossrail team are using Active Risk Management software and has mandated that contractors use the same risk management process.

“ARM allows organisations to centralise the risk management process and allows the whole company to input risks in a central area,” explains Active Risk executive vice-president and general manager Lorne Padelford.

“It also means the company can analyse those risks for the potential impact on their goals and objectives, and communicate the risk information.”

Addressing risk in a consistent way

The implementation of ARM on Crossrail began in 2010. By 2012, risk management had been linked to the corporate key performance indicators on the project and pushed down the supply chain.

“We have now implemented ARM within our own organisation and we are also implementing it across our supply chain to our major tier one contracting organisations,” says Crossrail head of risk management Rob Halstead.

Using this system means risks can be identified throughout the supply chain and can be addressed consistently.

ARM integrates the risk data from supply chain partners into one place for reporting and analysis.

“No matter what department or area of the business, ARM is used to collect, analyse and report on risks and control,” Mr Padelford says.

“In reality organisations do know their risks – the challenge is having access to the data”

Lorne Padelford, Active Risk

“There is always a level of unknown, but in reality organisations do know their risks – the challenge is having access to the data. It is typically hidden in spreadsheets or out in the field.”

As Crossrail has so many delivery partners, including London Underground, Network Rail, DLR, Canary Wharf Group and Berkeley Homes, centralising the risk management process means everyone knows where the data is, it can be assessed as a whole and the delivery team can take a standardised approach.

“All the risks are in the right place and in a format that can be shown to the right person,” Mr Padelford says.

Outcomes of using the system

The use of ARM on Crossrail has so far meant that technology decisions have been made with an emphasis on using tried and tested designs to avoid development risk.

Contracts have also been packaged to mitigate interface risk between different contractors, and tender documents take account of the risks associated with the works to ensure they are allocated to the organisation best placed to mitigate them. But it is impossible to eliminate risk, especially on a project of this size.

“The biggest challenge when it comes to risk management is people,” Mr Padelford says. “They need to be able to see a bigger picture and how risk management can help to deliver projects faster and better – there needs to be a personal side.”

This is handled in a similar way to health and safety, where the importance of risk management to individuals and their specific jobs is emphasised and stressed from the top down. “ARM has been able to drive consistency across this enormous programme,” Mr Halstead says.

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