RISQS: Assurance for the industry

Source: RTM June/July 2018

Paul Ravenscroft, head of supplier assurance communications at RSSB, guides us through the new Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS).

The RISQS provides the assurance which enables 110-plus buyers to do business with confidence with over 4,300 suppliers. It has just undergone a complex but successful transition from a  concession  provided  by a third party to being brought in-house by RSSB, providing supplier assurance that is truly “for the industry, by the industry.”

Under RISQS, suppliers provide verified corporate information and undergo capability assessments through audit where they import higher risk to buyers due to the nature of their products and services. The RISQS audit assesses a supplier’s management systems and processes to provide buyers assurance that the supplier has the systems and resources in place to deliver the products and services they have identified as delivering through the selection of product codes, now structured under the widely-recognised RICCL (Railway Industry Commodity Classification List) system.

The scheme enables buyers to search this published information for suppliers that meet their specific requirements for delivery of the products or services they require. It further benefits buyers by undertaking capability assessments on their behalf, benefitting suppliers by reducing the duplication of effort with multiple buyers carrying out the same capability checks.

To meet industry requirements, a multi-year project has successfully seen RISQS brought in-house under the stewardship of RSSB which now provides a smarter, quicker and easier third-party assurance scheme for the rail industry.

The genesis of RSSB RISQS dates back to the RSSB publication ‘Securing Supplier Assurance’ (2011). That analysis identified a potential saving across the industry of £35m, or 375 years of human effort, which could be achieved by the creation of a uniform supplier assurance scheme for Great Britain’s railway, rather than buyers individually verifying their own suppliers one by one.

‘Securing Supplier Assurance’ forged a mandate from the industry to create a more consistent, simple, effective and efficient system. RSSB, with the support of its members, set about making that a reality.

British Rail had previously developed Linkup, an internal supplier qualification process. Following privatisation, supply chain expert Achilles was granted the concession to deliver the scheme.

But a growing sense of disempowerment amongst buyers  and  suppliers  led  them  to demand a greater say in how Link-up worked. In 2013, the scheme became RISQS and, under new governance, RSSB became the custodian of RISQS for the industry. A contract with a defined end date was put in place for Achilles to continue delivery of the concession.

Although RISQS has always been the industry’s trusted scheme, its members were seeking ways to address a number of issues, including an inflexible software platform and a perception that RISQS was not costeffective. In order to achieve the required changes, RISQS would transition from the existing concession arrangement to service provision under two contracts.

On schedule in June 2017, RSSB announced that Altius VA Ltd was awarded the contract to provide IT, verification and management services for RISQS, and Capita was selected to deliver audit services.

Working with RSSB, the new contractors would evolve RISQS by:

  • Introducing a smarter, quicker, easier platform with more functionality;
  • Providing a platform more responsive to changes in industry and legislative requirements;
  • Delivering the ability to integrate with buyer systems;
  • Improving cost-effectiveness to make RISQS fairer, more transparent and provide better value for money;
  • Working with the Rail Supply Group, the Rail Delivery Group and other key industry bodies to identify ways RISQS could be a platform to promote UK rail expertise post-Brexit.

Working as one team, Altius, Capita and a full RSSB mobilisation team made rapid progress, delivering milestones on schedule to ensure the benefits were realised for scheme members.

Graeme Cox, RSSB head of suppler assurance, said: “RISQS is critical to the functioning of the rail market and we knew there was no room for failure. The challenges of migrating almost 5,000 members’ data, including hundreds of thousands of individual supplier updates, to a brand-new, bespoke platform which handles thousands of searches every month, was enormous. But working together, we were determined to provide the high-quality, enhanced services we’d promised from the day we went live.”

On time and to budget, the enhanced RISQS platform and improved audit services opened on 1 May, the culmination of a journey led by RSSB as the steward of the only supplier assurance scheme run by the industry, for the industry.

“Launch day was the first day of Infrarail, where we had a large stand,” Cox recalled, “so if we weren’t up and running we were going to be right in the spotlight.

“Thankfully, with the support of the internal RSSB team and our providers Altius and Capita, we were live and fully functional, demonstrating the enhanced system to visitors at Infrarail.

“The feedback from the industry has been excellent, and once we have worked through a few minor snagging issues, we will be looking to the future and further enhancements to ensure we continue to provide the industry with the supplier assurance it deserves.”

Close to 100% of the membership recorded by the previous provider were in RSSB RISQS at its launch, hundreds of supplier audits have been undertaken, and buyers are using the system to find qualified suppliers for their contracts.

Initial member feedback is enthusiastic, and major buyers – including Network Rail and TfL – are signing the new RISQS Charter, expressing their commitment to RSSB as the industry’s third-party supplier assurance scheme.

The RISQS team are now looking to the future and the introduction of more improvements and expansion of the scheme  to ensure its benefits are taken up across the whole industry and, in time, by new sectors and beyond the GB railway.


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