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#67 Greater Anglia leads the way in Asset Management

Today Mel Blackmore is joined by Richard Turner, the Head of Asset Management at Greater Anglia, a train operating company in the UK.

We’re going to be talking about his journey in relation to asset management and ISO 55001. Greater Anglia have been certified to this standard for a few years now, and they’re a bit of a trendsetter, as far as asset management and certification to ISO 55001 is concerned.

What you’ll learn:

  • What is Asset Management?
  • What made Greater Anglia consider ISO 55001?
  • Tackling the challenge of total buy-in
  • Coordinating with stakeholders
  • Benefits for Greater Anglia

First of all, let’s talk about what Greater Anglia is and does…

What does Greater Anglia do?

Greater Anglia was one of the first train operating companies to embark on a full repairing lease in 2012. That means having a full responsibility as opposed to the normal setup (with Network Rail as the landlord and the train operating company as a tenant). It was a first for a train operating company to have their own Asset Management Department and it was a really big deal for a lot of those that joined asset management. Richard came from Network Rail, doing asset management in a department where a train operating company was leading from an asset management point of view.

Let’s get to know more about Richard’s background…

Richard joined Network Rail around the year 2000. He was an asset manager at the start, and then the senior asset manager, soon after becoming a root asset manager – he went right through the asset management field! So, when the Greater Anglia job came around in 2012, Richard jumped at it because it was a massive new challenge for him, as it was a new thing for a train operating company to start off with an Asset Management Department which never existed before.

Now for those of you who aren’t actually familiar with asset management, let’s take a moment to understand what it is and why it’s important to an organisation…

Asset Management

From the asset management side for Greater Anglia, they look after the stations, depots, all the assets within the station demise that sit under their responsibility, maintain, renew, enhance and they look at longevity. They see themselves literally from inception to completion…they are like a landlord effectively. From an asset management point, it’s really, really key that they are involved every step of the way from design to construction essentially. It’s an interesting role that is very varied. One day you could get involved in the refurbishment of a waiting room, then the next day, you would be discussing a brand-new station that’s going to be built. It’s so varied and what Richard loves about his job is that every day is so different.

It’s safe to say he definitely needs to work in collaboration with lots of different stakeholders in this role!

And that’s a key point, actually…Richard tells us that one thing you learn through asset management is how to meet the expectations of your stakeholders, how you have performed, and what their expectations are. So, the stakeholder internally and externally is vital for any business to succeed. Because if you haven’t got the buy-in of your stakeholders, then you’re going to really struggle.

Now let’s dive into ISO 55001…

What made Greater Anglia consider ISO 55001?

Striving for excellence, once the franchise agreement was in place, Richard was keen to set a high standard and embed Asset Management ‘Best practice’ into the DNA of the organisation.  ISO 55001 was the ideal framework for this.

So, let’s find out how Greater Anglia went about tackling the challenge of achieving certification…

Tackling the challenge

There was a massive change of direction in everything Greater Anglia did with regards to presentations, training, updating their process strategy and getting everybody’s buy-in, and inductions in what they do within the company. Richard thinks they got this from the ISO standard itself -in terms of the structure of how it was set out and what they did going forward.

The improvement within the team at Greater Anglia and the structure are more defined. And even the line of sight, when it goes right up to the managing director and down to the person at the station…you can see that link. Richard sees this as the most impressive part. At one point, when going on an ISO audit with BSI (British Standards Institution), they were speaking to a member of staff at a ticket office and asked him ‘Do you know much about asset management and the asset management system here?’…And he said ‘Yes!’. This really goes to show that how far it filters down.

It definitely is very challenging to ensure everyone is on the same page. But it’s so rewarding when you see it happening. At Greater Anglia, they learned so many lessons from when they started, they were in such a different position to where they are now. Richard sees this as a massive learning curve for them!

What’s interesting is that Greater Anglia has a broad range of different suppliers. So, let’s find out how having structure, policies and systems in place helped to coordinate operations with stakeholders…

Coordinating with stakeholders

When they started the franchise in 2012, they’d inherited the existing asset management system via Network Rail. Stakeholder engagement and collaboration were key, so to encourage feedback they liaised with various parties to ask the question about the current systems, ‘what do you want it to do for you?’ this included their commercial team, project team, assets team, and so on. This resulted in constructive feedback which helped Greater Anglia to initiate various improvements. Their supply chain now is very consistent, and there’s a link to their system with regards to reactive and renewals, etc.

So, let’s find out what benefits Greater Anglia have seen as a result of having that asset management system in place…

Benefits for Greater Anglia

Richard reveals that prior to setting up their new system, everything was managed so differently. Now they have one big unit that manages all assets. So, information with regards to surveys, renewals, stakeholder projects, or third party is all linked. Whereas before, it would have been harder to manage…now, it’s all unified.

This clearly saves Greater Anglia a lot of time by having information at their fingertips, together with knowing how it all connects with other areas of the business

Now finally, let’s see what kind of hints and tips Richard has for individuals that are responsible for asset management within an organisation and are considering implementing ISO 55001 and some kind of framework to have that structure.

Richard sees it as absolutely crucial that you find somebody (like Blackmores!) to help you, as they will guide you through the process. You need someone to look at your setup, and how your structure and strategy are, etc so they can tell you what you need and how to improve. The daunting part is actually looking at the standard as a technical specification and wondering ‘how is this going to be interpreted for our business?’ and so that’s how Blackmores helped.

Greater Anglia is now up to its third year of recertification, which is just fantastic!

To learn more about Greater Anglia, visit their website!

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