Capability Assessment

What capability do you need to client or sponsor this project?

Research has repeatedly shown that the capability and culture of the team is the most fundamental success factor to project success.

The capability needs for a team on a rail project changes over the lifecycle of a project. Undoubtedly great teams deliver great projects even in the most difficult of circumstances so it is important to consider how to build and empower people from the very beginning recognising the need for growth in capacity and change in capability throughout.

Good intentions are not a replacement for experience, capability and competency. Consideration must be given to what experience will add value to the early stage development. When planning a rail system change there can be a tendency to buy the next phase of engineering design when what may be needed is transport planning advice or high level constructability advice. This has to be rail & transport specific as generic project advice will not address the system complexity issues in rail.

Consider the following:

  • What roles do people need to perform in this early development stage?
  • What is the culture you want to have ?
    • safe space for challenge,
    • the right level of tension between builder and funder
    • space for innovation
    • shared clear goals
    • should the teams co-locate and when?
    • how do you build trust and collaboration, but also ensure that the truth can be told/challenged?
  • What is the organisational structure of the team?
    • Internal team, co owned with other parties, virtual or matrix team, consultants?
  • What resources currently exist?
  • What is the need for:
    • external collaboration
    • political engagement or handling
    • railway interface discussions
    • governance and assurance
    • technical development
    • busines case development
    • railway network strategic planning
    • sponsorship
    • strategic leadership
    • economic inputs
    • commercial advice
    • project expertise
    • transport planning

This list is generic to provide guidance and the project may require a specialist resource which is not listed here. Care should be taken to assess the needs and plan for them in a structured and comprehensive way.

There are legal obligations that promoters should make themselves aware of as actions and decisions at an early stage can be critical in those contexts. In particular promoters should be aware of;

Capability Assessment Toolkit

A useful set of guidance produced by Government Project Delivery Profession is The Project Delivery Capability Framework For Project Delivery Professionals

You can use the guidance to help plan to mobilise the correct capability for project success. This will help develop an understanding of what is required and then help inform choices about what to buy, build or borrow to take forward schemes.