Challenges and solutions for changing transport

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Back in my student days, Economics Lecturers described transport as a “derived demand.”  In other words it only exists to enable some other demand to be met – whether for employment or business, personal commitments or leisure. But derived or not, transport more than ever underpins the essential services of modern economic life in an increasingly global and mobile world.

According to Professor Tim Brady, a member of the APM’s Transportation Change Practitioner Group, “The transport sector typically accounts for just over 40% of the investment in the five economic infrastructure sectors that keep the country running (the others are energy, waste, water and ICT).”  Transport brings significant benefits, but it also comes with huge costs, long lead times, and high intensity 24/7 operations, making it hard to change.

As one of the Enabling Change SIG’s industry change practitioner groups, we have spent more than two years studying the particular challenges of change in the transport sector, the things we do well, and sharing ideas, case studies and good practice with other senior change leaders.  As we did this we found we were facing many of the same challenges and independently coming up with similar solutions.  We identified a significant opportunity for bodies such as APM to help share this learning and good practice more widely and influence key policy makers, helping organisations reduce costs and improve change success rates.

This culminated in a report presented to APM senior managers last Autumn, with a dozen recommendations covering four themes: 1) competence, roles and training; 2) methods, tools and terminology; 3) business cases and measures; and 4) stakeholders and requirements.

Many of these recommendations are now being progressed by the Enabling Change SIG, but surely there is a more fundamental learning point here: there is so much opportunity for us all to get better at learning from others to improve success and avoid reinventing the wheel. What are your ideas for doing this?

Find out more about the Transportation Change Practitioner Group’s work at the “Changing Transport” event on 21st June near Heathrow, in conjunction with Thames Valley Branch.

Simon Peter Williams

Posted by Simon Peter Williams on 31st May 2017

About the Author

Simon has worked for Transport for London (TfL) and its predecessors for 20+ years and is currently Head of Business Change Project Management. After a background in strategy, planning and commercial business development roles, Simon moved into project management and since 2005 has focused on the delivery of a wide range of business change programmes and projects. In recent years these have included a programme of over 60 initiatives to deliver a 30%+ improvement in London Underground reliability, and a major contribution to the successful delivery of the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games.

Based in the TfL PMO, Simon’s team provides programme, project and change management resources and advice on an internal consultancy basis. Significant work over the last year has included a major transformation for the operating model, processes and technology in London Underground stations, the introduction of a “Night Tube” service on Friday and Saturday nights, implementation of a new Workforce Planning system, a major modernisation programme for maintenance, and a range of other organisational change projects.

Simon was extensively involved in the development of TfL’s PPM methodology and Business Change Framework. As professional head for Business Change Project Management within TfL he promotes capability development and best practice in integrating and applying project management and change management approaches, including leading a People Change Special Interest Group, facilitating a 650 strong change community, developing and delivering training courses and presenting to a wide range of audiences. Simon is a Committee Member of the APM Enabling Change SIG and leads the Transportation Change Practitioner Group.

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