Getting Started on Digitising Your Rail Projects – Part 2

The Importance of Digitisation in Railway Construction Management


In our last blog post, we focused on the initial 5 best practices for digitising rail projects. To refresh your memory, the first 5 of the 10 Best Practices were:

  1. Agree on Data Management Standards
  2. Involve End Users in System Setup
  3. Ensure buy-in from Key Stakeholders
  4. Don’t Lose Sight of the Strategy
  5. Maintain Data Governance
As we’ve discussed, in large-scale construction projects, particularly in the rail industry, effective data governance and technology integration are paramount for success. Here are the next steps and best practices to follow when digitising rail and other large-scale infrastructure projects.

6. Choose the Right Technology Partners

Selecting the appropriate technology partners is vital to ensure that these new tools will help you reach your digitisation goals. The focus of your efforts should be on widespread adoption and maintaining usage, rather than just vendor agreements. Therefore, a comprehensive evaluation is needed to find tools that meet project requirements and are user-friendly. Here are some key considerations when choosing technology partners:

  • User needs and likelihood of adoption
  • Interoperability and accessibility of software through APIs
  • Collaboration with vendors for customised solutions, like eviFile’s approach to designing tailored processes and interfaces
  • Vendors’ ability to work collaboratively and integrate data using open standards 

7. Understand the Power of Effective Reporting

To effectively communicate data, a strategic approach to determining reporting methods is essential. This involves working backwards to identify the specific information needed, its location, and accessibility, with a focus on consistency and the use of unique IDs for accuracy. Involving all stakeholders, from ground teams to the boardroom, ensures that the diverse needs and insights for all parties are considered. Furthermore, it is essential to establish clear reporting standards and reusable templates from the outset efficiency and consistency across projects in order to avoid the chaos of unique reporting processes for each project. Reporting software should have standard templates that integrate data from various sources, including Excel and APIs, to support a multi-vendor strategy and ensure the availability of high-quality data.

Additionally, incorporating a multi-vendor reporting suite addresses the diverse needs for all stakeholders, making the process adaptable and comprehensive. In a constantly evolving technological and business landscape, an iterative approach to process improvement is key to ensure that reporting mechanisms stay up-to-date and are refined to provide relevant and valuable insights.

8. Automate Reporting

Advanced software systems typically enable asset owners and project managers to create a “one and done” approach to reporting, thereby eliminating redundant data entries, simplifying workflows, and reducing risks associated with manual data-entry errors, which can be costly and compromise data integrity. Automated reporting not only ensures the accuracy and reliability of insights, which can provide a real-time view of project progression, but it also offers a consolidated perspective that is crucial for diverse stakeholders like engineers, managers, designers, planners, clients, and contractors. This integrated approach enhances engagement by ensuring access to current and relevant project data, which is instrumental in future decision-making.

9. Sharing Successes Early On

Introducing new technologies and digitising processes in projects inevitably comes with challenges, which is why it’s crucial to recognise and highlight the “small wins” and overall benefits of the new technologies once they’re been in use for a few months. This can be done by acknowledging how the new platform and processes have improved job performance, such as the time savings derived from streamlining data collection, better organisation of information that would otherwise be scattered, and cost savings from proactive assurance platforms. Emphasising these improvements, regardless of their scale, is important during the initial months when teams are still adjusting to the new technologies. This reassures them of the technology’s effectiveness and the positive outcomes at the end of the transition period.

10. Continually Improve Processes

Introducing new technology into an organisation is just the start of a digital transformation journey, which requires continuous refinement and improvement. Key elements in this ongoing process include:

  • Establishing clear digital process standards and templates as a foundation for improvement
  • Maintaining agility and adaptability, with robust governance and a symbiotic relationship with flexible software providers
  • Adhering to data definition standards to ensure data consistency, accuracy, and value.
  • Evolving with the technological landscape, integrating new systems and tools that complement existing software ecosystems
  • Focusing on automation, particularly in compliance and reporting, using data from reliable sources for accuracy and efficiency.
  • Continuously celebrating milestones while addressing and rectifying missteps, ensuring a forward-focused trajectory in technological enhancement.

Digital project management tools not only streamline reporting but also improve auditing and assurance with hard evidence that can be accessed at any stage in the lifecycle of a project. One of the key aspects of a transformation is a focus on end-user engagement, robust data governance, and celebrating incremental successes, all of which prepare the organisation for future challenges. 

Clearly, the digitisation of rail projects is crucial for the industry’s continued success and for project efficiency. Companies like Network Rail, Alstom, and SPL have all successfully migrated their project management workflows to web-based data management and reporting platforms like eviFile, and as a result, they have demonstrated significant time savings, improved data accuracy and progressive assurance of ongoing projects.

For a more thorough explanation of the 10 Best Practices for Digitising Rail Projects, download our white paper to learn more or reach out to us directly to find out how we, eviFile can help you transition away from manual processes for more efficient and effective data collection, management and reporting. 

Interested in discovering how eviFile can improve productivity and ensure compliance for your upcoming rail projects?

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