Effective communication and measurement are key to staying on top of a growing project, Michael Pincher, head of IT for the CrossRail project, told a recent meeting of BCS IT directors group Elite.
CrossRail aims to build a new train route across London from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west to Essex and Kent in the east. The 23km track will travel underground through the city centre between Paddington and east London. The total cost of the project is estimated at £6bn.
Information systems will play a key role in supporting business processes and helping to ensure effective relationships between stakeholders on the project.
One of the problems with any sizable project is communication, said Pincher. Different disciplines, such as engineering, have their own language and methods. However, such methods might not necessarily be the best for the project as a whole.
IT has to put in place systems that can bring these disparate methods of working together. The systems also need to remain viable in years to come, both in scope and deliverables, said Pincher.
The job of IT is often as custodian of intellectual property and to understand the data collected and collate it. Therefore, IT frequently has to try to "close the loop" to ensure the correct information gets to the correct destination, said Pincher.
A key challenge for CrossRail has been to put in business processes for document control and ensuring an audit trail for information. However, for systems to be effective, it is vital to teach people the art of document management.
CrossRail has also implemented a system for measuring achievement, which, although unpopular among some end-users, is a useful tool, said Pincher. People instinctively do not like to be measured but it allows for real-time reporting, he said.
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