Social value has become increasingly pivotal within infrastructure as more and more organisations have a growing awareness that they not only need defined social and environmental goals but also a way of measuring the success of them.
With 216,000 people in the UK employed by the rail industry and its supply chain – and with £36 billion contributed to the UK economy annually – the rail sector is well placed to facilitate huge social change. As the owner and operator of Britain’s railway infrastructure, Network Rail needed to lead by example and set the social value standard within the rail sector.
As part of their commitments, Network Rail sponsored the development of the Common Social Impact Framework (CSIF), a bespoke social impact and sustainability benchmarking framework specifically for the rail sector.
The CSIF was originally created in a spreadsheet format, with a massive array of different themes, outcomes and measures which not only required a good knowledge of spreadsheets, formulas and calculations, but also a working understanding of how the CSIF was created and how to use it to log impactful activities using the appropriate measures.
Social Value was previously accounted for across the network using a myriad of spreadsheets, with no common input source Data was often not up to date or in the wrong format. There was no standardisation or validation of entries which made reporting on initiatives and activities near impossible.
It was clear that in order to become the leader for social value measurement and reporting within the sector, and given the size of the organisation and scope of the project, Network Rail required a digital platform that could scale to the demands of their social responsibility, and one that was flexible enough to embed the various values described by the CSIF whilst making it significantly simpler for everyday users and staff members across the network to capture and log activities.
After a competitive tendering process, Impact was chosen as the provider of choice to operationalise the CSIF across the UK rail network and have remained working closely with them for over three years
“Impact lets us measure our social value in a meaningful way and take into consideration a broad range of activities that we know are being delivered across the network, but rarely measured“
Sarah Borien, Sustainability Strategy Manager
Deployment of Impact
When it came to deploying Impact, we worked within the limitations of CSIF, consulting with Network Rail and key partners in order to distil the framework into something that was more usable and accessible by all staff members and supply chain partners.
Impact was built from the ground-up to be framework independent and so importing the CSIF and it’s associated themes, outcomes and measures were completed with ease.
We also responded to the bespoke nature of Network Rail’s organisational setup by facilitating personalised reporting structures, accounting for their 13-period calendar and unique business taxonomy (which consists of multiple entities split between geographical and non-geographical regions, business units, routes, teams and GRIP stages) within the platform itself.
Because data is only as good as the user logging it, and reporting is made easier by having good data, great emphasis was placed on its effective and efficient capture.
Network Rail employees and supply chain partners are able to input data easily into the platform based on the activity they performed, simply by telling Impact a few pieces of information, which in turn drives automatic calculations where relevant using CSIF conversions and multipliers.
Conversions and goals can also be set up retrospectively and turned on/off by administrators or project leaders when not needed or of relevance.
Network Rail is able to capture and aggregate 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data across the whole network in real-time using 4 different methods:
Impact provides a central platform for our cross-industry partners to record and report on the activities they have undertaken.
Ongoing Measurement & Reporting
On a reporting level, we developed bespoke dashboard functionality. The metrics displayed are fully customisable, and able to be filtered by a myriad of variables depending on what the reporting manager wants to know. The ability to view this top-level data – and subsequently ‘drill down’ to a more detailed level of analysis allows Network Rail for the first time, able to make effective, more informed management decisions using real-time social responsibility and sustainability data.
Rail sector organisations need to incorporate a range of diverse factors into their social value, from measuring outreach in schools, to rail safety, accidental feath suicide prevention, apprenticeships and local economic spend. Encouraging and investing in green initiatives is also essential for the rail sector especially as the country progresses towards net-zero emissions.
These are all setup as different ‘activities’ or ‘projects’ within the platform, mapped against the CSIF with the relevant measures and conversions from the CSIF in place to track their success and effectiveness. The outputs and outcomes of these interventions are subsequently quantified automatically within Impact to produce auditable insights for the organisation.
In addition, by using Impact’s Open API, Network Rail can output data into a number of business intelligence systems and platforms like Microsoft PowerBI to be shown alongside other mission-critical metrics for fast and agile decision making. On a more local level, Network Rail administrators use Impact’s flexible reporting tools to view live data tables, dashboards, charts and graphs, using advanced filters to quickly and easily deep dive into the results of their activities and initiatives, with outcomes already pre-mapped to the CSIF for further measurement by senior management teams and government agencies.
By digitising the CSIF and moving to a digital workflow, Impact, enables Network Rail to better capture, measure and report the value and effects of initiatives across a wide range of social and sustainable initiatives.
Since implementing Impact, we can more easily examine employees’ volunteering time, STEM engagement, railway safety, social regeneration and community rail initiatives across the British railway network.
Everything you need to measure social value.
Our social value tool removes siloed working and disorganised spreadsheets of data. Use Impact to create a unified, joined-up approach towards social value measurement and evaluation across your whole organisation that saves you time, makes you look good and cuts reporting busywork!