Keeping End Users on Board during Infrastructure Projects
Whenever there is a significant transport disruption the most common complaint you hear from commuters or end users is that ‘nobody is telling us anything.’ This reveals an important truth: people can usually understand that delays happen.
Commuters and end users particularly understand that they are sometimes necessary to improve facilities, punctuality or service in the longer term. What they hate most is not knowing what’s going on.
Where the travelling public becomes happier still is when they are consulted and feel they have a genuine say in project outcomes and the measures that are put in place to mitigate disruption while work is taking place.
Achieving a state where there is a high level of awareness among all stakeholders before, during and immediately after a significant infrastructure project is a challenge. It’s one that all contractors must step up to meet.
It’s not really good enough to say that disruptions are inevitable and people just need to accept them for the longer term good. The philosophy and practice Osborne employs on all infrastructure projects is based on early and comprehensive stakeholder engagement.
If for example, we are looking at a major upgrade to a railway station or platform (perhaps under Access for All), we’re well aware that regular commuters have plenty to contribute. They have the practical experience of using the station day in, day out. They can help us design better solutions that benefit all passengers and potentially resolve some additional issues within the scope of the project. And they can often help identify opportunities to mitigate disruption by carrying out works in a different way.
Investing time to understand who will be affected by the project, who will be responsible for keeping those people informed, and the most efficient way to feed this communication chain with the latest information is essential. Yet, how often do these relationships and structures get dismantled or become neglected as soon as each project ends?
The engagement and communication structures that characterise high value frameworks go a long way to improving the reputation of asset owners and operators. With these long term partnerships, it’s possible to invest in a stakeholder management plans and protocols that deliver a continuously enriched understanding of the needs of commuters, local businesses and neighbours.
They also create an efficient mechanism for consultation and consistent up-to-the-minute communication while projects are underway.