AssessTech’s ACMS at the core of GWR’s business

Great Western Railway (GWR) owned by FirstGroup is one of the largest British Train Operating Companies. Incidents and passenger safety are paramount to the smooth operation of the business.

Five years ago, the entire incident and competency management process was paper driven. The records of 1000 drivers, 800 guards and 600 dispatchers were all kept locally on spreadsheets and there were various versions of competency management standards amongst the teams. This left management exposed as they didn’t have an overall perspective on what was going on within the business at any one point in time. This also resulted in incidents being forgotten and due to internal processes, these were only discussed during a KPI review rather than at the point they were relevant.

When the Train Driver Licensing directive came into effect, it became apparent that the current system was no longer sustainable.

At that time AssessTech were delivering assessor training and GWR asked them if they could provide a total process solution for licencing, competence and incident investigation to make the business more efficient and provide relevant management information.  There were significant internal challenges around competence standards from a criteria, time and schedule perspective.  Criteria in the current paper format was inefficient. With over 1000 elements of competency criteria to become a train driver, the assessor had to manually cross-check each set of criteria individually and transpose the information onto a manual graph to track developmental process over time. The entire process took 2 hours to assess and up to 8 hours to write up!

Another key challenge was the lack of standardisation and control across the business.  Individuals developed their own templates and copied information from others. Assessors were not using the competence information as developmental tool, purely as a compliance aid.

By moving onto AssessTech’s ACMS platform, the competency management process across the business was driven to a standardised model. Using tablets to collate the information streamlined the process for assessors and provided the ability for managers to see how individuals were planning their workload.  The platform captured incidents at that point in the process, which meant action could be taken immediately.
The main driver of moving onto an electronic competency management platform was to have statistical and trend analysis on hand for incidents, performance and competence, accessible at any point in time from any location.  The data on when drivers require medical certification and updated qualifications is imperative to the running of a smooth competency model.
Stewart Player Head of Operations at GWR said, “The recent upgrade of GWR trains has resulted in virtually every driver and guard having to be up-skilled to operate new trains which has been a smooth process using ACMS to manage their new competencies. We have also given each employee the ability to log on to ACMS to view their own competence records which has turned the competency process around, where each individual is now involved with of their own competence development and also detailed information on their own incidents. With incidents such as the collision at Plymouth in 2016 we could see immediately which driver was assigned to that route enabling us to target new briefing information quickly. With GDPR coming into effect at the end of May 2018, most businesses will be panicking about the storage of data, but having a fully compliant platform through ACMS will ensure we will operate effectively as a business, with no requirement for downtime.”

“We researched the market to identify the best electronic competency solution for GWR and found that other providers were expensive and had an extremely long lead-in time for any specific software developments.  AssessTech’s ACMS platform is completely industry focused and industry driven and their work with us and other TOCs has resulted in a robust solution that meets the need of the whole industry. They are agile, flexible and customer driven  and regularly challenge us when we come up with new ideas to determine whether they are specific requirements for GWR as a business or a wider industry need. As the biggest TOC using ACMS we drive many of the new system developments, however our processes may not always be exemplar, so AssessTech will look at the best solution that meets the needs of the industry.  The user forums attract key individuals from across the industry and are instrumental in developing a roadmap of system enhancements that will work industry wide.

We had full support and training for the rollout of ACMS and Gabriel Stroud who delivered our training created a tailored training package using the software on tablet, which guaranteed speed of adoption and practical knowledge”.

ACMS has been able to embed both technical and non-technical skills by adopting new criteria specifically designed for the tablet which has revolutionalised the way our assessors assess candidates and ensure they are assessed on time.

ACMS has improved the overall incident investigation model with GWR as all incidents can be reported, tracked and actioned in real-time.  The reporting element provides essential information linking competence, incident and causations so we can create an action plan for that individual going forward.