BDO, KPMG and PA support London firms with international growth

18 September 2017 Consultancy.uk

London has established The Mayor’s International Business Programme to help ambitious startups and fast growing companies in technology, life sciences, and urban sectors with international growth. The benefitting entrepreneurs will now be supported by an ecosystem of experts across all fields of business, including mentors and consulting firms.

The Mayor’s International Business Programme has been initiated to back startups and companies growing rapidly, in order to help them meet specific international growth ambitions. The new exclusive programme provides a bespoke mentoring scheme, delivered by leading entrepreneurs and business leaders. The programme is open to fast-growing companies in London, operating in three broad sectors: technology, life sciences, and urban. In order to qualify, businesses need to demonstrate that they are already generating revenues.

Along with mentorship and advice, meanwhile, the project also aims to provide many opportunities to learn and network at a series of events run by the programme. Along with monthly workshops to help entrepreneurs navigate the nuances of doing business in overseas markets, the programme will also present participants with high-profile, targeted opportunities to learn and network as part of overseas trade missions. These will be sector focused and are only open to high-growth companies.

Supporting the ambition of London startups

Since the project’s launch in 2016, three consulting firms have joined as lead partners of the Mayor of London’s new International Business Programme. KPMG, BDO and PA Consulting will each work to support growing companies in areas targeted at strengthening the local and national economy, as London attempts to insulate itself from the consequences of Brexit, alongside Benoy, an award winning architectural design firm.

The International Business Programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and facilitate local community regeneration. Now having passed its first anniversary, the project and its lead partners are continuing the search for a new cohort of the next top market innovators.

Speaking at the initial launch in 2016, then-Mayor Boris Johnson stated, “London has a strong heritage as an international trading city and our position at the centre of the business world means the city offers the perfect springboard for companies looking to expand internationally. London’s businesses and entrepreneurs continue to be at the forefront of innovation and creativity and I have seen first-hand the demand for their goods and services across the world. By helping the capital’s businesses become the next global leaders we will see the creation of more jobs for Londoners.” 

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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.