Network Rail

What they do?

Network Rail owns, operates and develops Britain’s railway – the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. It provides the underlying infrastructure for all the Train and Freight Operating Companies (that run the trains) and operates the majority of the biggest stations

What was their Challenge?

Network Rail has identified information as one of its most significant corporate risks and had recently appointed a Chief Data Officer to lead the business through this challenge. Whilst the CDO was a senior person, she lacked the supporting team and infrastructure to complete her role. Oakland developed the overall CDO organisation within the business.

What did Oakland Do?

Embedding a CDO function necessitates understanding of both the technical landscape and, more importantly, the business context. Network Rail is an incredibly complex organisation and we recognised the importance of navigating the first few months carefully.

We worked hard to understand the immediate priorities of the CDO. There were so many potential options it was important to be focused on the immediate objectives

  1. Established a ‘data governance’ baseline against a ‘best of breed’ information governance framework, loosely based on MIKE2.0 though with input from other models (esp DAMA)
  2. Developed a community of ‘interested’ individuals – knitting together the embryonic team that was already in place. This allowed the team to exploit the considerable technical expertise of the existing team and their knowledge of Network Rail.
  3. Started developing the governance structures required in the future – with a focus on how these structures could integrate with the underlying drivers of the business. It was essential to ensure the business started to take ownership for the quality and development of its data. Accountabilities were given to key leaders but these were supported by a cadre of technical experts who could help on the detail.
  4. Supported the CDO to make the case for a small central team of experts.
  5. Ensure we acted as data evangelists…

Whilst many aspects of the project were technical – the key challenge was to keep it straightforward and in the language of the business.

What was the outcome?

 The key outcome was the overall business case and approach for the CDO was approved. The project acted as a catalyst for much of the work that followed - Caroline Carruthers captured may of learnings in her book ‘The CDO Playbook’

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