NR Creating The Office Of The CDO

Network Rail owns and operates the railway infrastructure in England, Wales and Scotland on behalf of the nation.

That’s 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges and viaducts and thousands of signals, level crossings and points. It also manages rail timetabling and 20 of the largest stations in England, Scotland and Wales.

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The challenge

Network Rail had 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 required a supporting team and infrastructure to help her in this new role and help create the office of the CDO.

How we did it

Embedding a CDO function necessitates understanding of both the technical landscape and, more importantly the business context. Network Rail is an incredibly complex organization and we recognized 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 opportunities it was essential to focus on the immediate objectives.

Establishing 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).

We developed a community of advocates, knitting together the embryonic team that was already in place. This allowed these advocates to exploit the considerable technical expertise of the existing team and their knowledge of Network Rail.

We started by developing the governance structures required for 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 team of technical experts who could help with the detail.

The Results

  • We helped deliver the overall CDO organisation within the business.
  • The overall business case and approach for the CDO was greenlighted. The project acted as a catalyst for much of the work that followed. Caroline Carruthers (the CDO) captured many of the learning points in her book, ‘The CDO Playbook’

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