Dial-a-Ride Procurement:Lessons from Future Bus – and Beyond
As you consider the requirements for updating the technology behind Assisted Transport Services and Dial-a-Ride, one of the most important decisions relates to the choice of supplier and post-contract model. We know process re-engineering and change management will be vital factors within this project, so it is essential that your chosen supplier or consortium can provide these kinds of services, supporting both the technology and also the business through the entire process.
Based on our experience of working with TfL over the past 20 years – and the current Future Bus (FBS) project – we have identified four important lessons to consider.
1. An Empathetic ‘Prime’ Contractor Pays Off
One of the early successes of the FBS project has been the establishment of an empathy-based prime contractor relationship between TfL and Trapeze. In this model, Trapeze has taken the role of leading the consortium to ensure all subcontractors are aligned in understanding and supporting the delivery of TfL’s objectives and mitigating and sharing any potential risk.
Since FBS involves several organisations – each of whom have their own unique objectives and culture – Trapeze’s role has been to understand the culture of each, serving as a buffer between the client and other contractors, and operating as TfL’s ambassador within the consortium.
Though the project is at an early stage, this approach has clearly established a different kind of supplier-client relationship – one that has been beneficial to TfL so far. We have been able to bring subcontractors together to deliver consistency in terms of TfL’s objectives and ensured efficient arbitration of any proportional response.
We believe this approach would also be effective for the Dial-a-Ride project by reducing the effort of managing subcontractors, and ensuring the digital transformation team can prioritise their focus elsewhere.
2. Ensure your Supplier Manages Change Control
With the FBS project, Trapeze has supported TfL by managing change control costs on its behalf. By taking ownership of all subcontractor deliverables, and owning the success of the entire project in term of TfL’s objectives, we have been able to ensure the project progresses and that change control costs are limited wherever possible.
Where change control negotiations have been required, Trapeze has been able to manage these within the consortium, ensuring that TfL staff need not worry about managing diverse inputs or quality management.
With FBS this approach has also benefitted TfL in relation to the scoping and delivery of theoretical requirements which it became clear required Project Management Office and technical authority support. By working with another subcontractor to redefine deliverables within the terms of the contract, we have been able to agree on a plan which meets TfL’s actual requirements, to be delivered to the original timeframe – and without additional cost.
We believe this approach should be utilised for Assisted Transport Services and Dial-a-Ride, building out a supplier base that delivers not only on TfL’s current requirements but also on those of the future, with phases of the deliverables that ensure this solution remains relevant through the years to come.
3. Strong Consortium Alignment and Structure is Vital
With FBS we have been able to create a cross-organisation project team that works directly with TfL to influence wider stakeholders. By implementing this team from the outset, it has been possible to embed a sense of integrity, honesty and alignment across all members.
Clearly defined cross-party reporting structures have removed the sorts of competitive barriers between suppliers that can often undermine the effective delivery of this kind of project, enabling Trapeze to manage all subcontractors as if they are part of our organisation; and to take on challenging negotiations on TfL’s behalf.
To date this approach has successfully minimised delay costs by working with TfL and contractors to drive risk mitigation strategies early in the project, and insulated TfL from the workload of owning the consortium relationships; playing the role of broker or referee between suppliers; or even on managing issues within the consortium.
4. Informed, Personal Partner Relationship
The positive start to the FBS project to date can be partly attributed to the shared cultures of TfL and Trapeze, and to the strong professional and personal working relationships across all levels of both organisations – operational, project management and also executive management.
The relationships forged through FBS and beyond will prove huge assets to the successful delivery of a new TfL Assisted Transport Services and Dial-a-Ride technology solution. Individuals such as Kirsti Robinson, Richard Riley, Mark Rackley-Lee, Paul Attenborough and Stephen Rainbow are known and trusted by TfL staff – and crucially, they know and care about TfL.
Our team has worked with TfL for decades, across both fixed route bus services and also Assisted Transport. They understand TfL’s strengths and weaknesses, and are uniquely placed to monopolise the former and defend the latter.
But at the same time, it is vital to recognise that as important as the formal processes are, it is often the informal relationships which really matter. Our people are invested in the success of TfL and its people. It is this relationship, built up over years of informal personal interactions, that will ensure Trapeze delivers the solution that TfL needs and deserves.
About Dial it Up!
Dial It UP! is Trapeze’s vision for TfL Dial-a-Ride. We are excited by the opportunity to work together on a global flagship model for effective, passenger-focused Assisted Transport Services. – Paul Attenborough, Director, Trapeze Group (UK)
Dial It Up! Next Step: Discuss Consortium Partners
We understand that the choice of supplier and post-contract model is vital to the success of this project. Trapeze is experienced at building effective consortiums, having done so for Future Bus (alongside PA Consulting and SciSys), and also recently in winning Transport for the North’s Open Data Hub (alongside Placr).
We are currently seeking consortium partners to support our bid for this project. If there are specific organisations you would be particularly interested in seeing as part of our consortium, we would be keen to hear of any such suggestions.
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