Establishing Self-sustaining Asset Management (AM) Competency Framework


Transdev Sydney Light Rail (TDS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Transdev Australasia and the O&M contractor to Altrac Light Rail (ALR) for Sydney Light Rail fleet and infrastructure that includes the light rail network in and around Sydney CBD. TDS in-turn oversees the downstream contracts engaging three vendors for maintenance services of rolling stock and track, non-linear infrastructure, and cleaning services. In June 2021, TDS with support from Transdev Australasia undertook detailed review and assessed the need to establish a sustainable and fit for purpose and cost effective “resource and competency management system”. TDS has adopted AM Council’s competency framework along with the certification scheme as standard process for continued professional development of staff which provides the incentive to achieve internationally recognised certification and a cost-effective solution to TDS of assured and recognised competency upliftment.

Description of project or framework addressing the assessment criteria

1        Introduction

Transdev Sydney Light Rail (TDS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transdev Australasia, which is a part of the Transdev Group family of businesses. Since 1998, we have operated Sydney’s light rail network; a popular and iconic transport system used by over 9 million passengers every year. As part of our contract and on behalf of our client, Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) we deliver maintenance services that involve delivery, assessment, and supervision of the engineering activities to ensure that assets such as light rail vehicles, tracks, signals, communication system, electrical network, control centre, civil structures etc. are available and safe for operations.  The Asset Management Branch (AMB) within TfNSW asseses and authorises organisations to become Authorised Engineering Organisations (AEO) under the “Authorised Engineering Organisation” framework. The AEO is then certified or authorised to provide engineering services to TfNSW. In compliance with the requirements of the current contract, TDS committed to, and achieved the AEO accreditation for asset management systems and engineering services and is required to comply with all the applicable engineering requirements under these AEO accreditation. The AEO requirements include engineering management (design, safety-in-design, configuration management, integration management, safety management, operations, asset management etc.), engineering competency management and stakeholder management (TfNSW, NSW Govt., Community, regulators, vendors etc).

To ensure that the organisations comply with AEO requirements, TfNSW conducts routine standard audits to ascertain level of compliance and the areas of concern that may pose risk to public safety due to lack of proper engineering systems and processes in place. As part of their AEO requirements, TDS is periodically audited by TfNSW to test compliance to their AEO accreditation requirements.  One such surveillance audit in May 2021 focused on the competency management system used by TDS and found to have inconsistencies with the AEO competency requirements. As a result, TfNSW issued their audit report with findings to be addressed by TDS to comply with their AEO accreditation requirements. TDS with the support of the parent organisation Transdev Australasia formed an Action Management Team (AMT). The AMT consisted of individuals from within the wider organisation who bring the in-depth experience and understanding of the transport issues, good industry, and asset management practices. The team members were adequately empowered to take relevant decisions and ensure that a long-term sustainable solution is identified that benefits the organisation and sets the example within the Transport cluster of NSW.

2        Action Plan

The AMT reviewed the current processes and practices in place at TDS.  The scope of the review was the current practices, applicable reference standards and documents, audit findings and, long term actions that TDS need to deploy across the organisation. In line with Transdev Australasia’s multi-modal asst management strategy and AMBoK, the team developed and implemented comprehensive management plans including Resource Management, Competency Management and Vendor Management   A comprehensive 6-month action plan was developed as shown in the Figure 1.

Figure 1: TDS Action Management Plan – AEO Requirements: Competency Management (NC – Non-Conformance)

3        Resource Management Framework

Figure 2: TDS Resource management Framework

TDS’s Resource Management Framework as shown in Figure 2, incorporates organisational competency requirements to ensure that resources are in place with sufficient capability to achieve business and contract objectives. This framework ensures that individuals with appropriate knowledge, skills and behaviours are engaged to perform activities defined for a specific function, within a specific engineering and maintenance service area or discipline. The framework   supports the identification of competency gaps to facilitate a robust development program. The framework consists of five stages as shown in Figure 2 and explained below.

3.1        Organisational requirements

This stage identifies the organisational requirements for the resources and is the first step of managing the resources and is having substages as below.

  1. Job Analysis / Work Requirement Analysis – Line managers carry out the job / work requirement analysis aligned with the delivery of the assigned functional outcome within the organisation. People and Culture provide the support and work with the functions of TDS to understand the work requirements based on the job analysis aligned with the delivery of the targeted functional outcomes. Output of organisational requirement is the Position Descriptions for each position of TDS.
  2. TDS Competency Management System – TDS have developed a comprehensive Competency Management System as explained in Section 4.

3.2        Finding right resource for the right job

This stage of the framework refers to the recruitment process or hiring the vendors to deliver the services and can be explained through the sub-stages as below.

  1. Resource Assessment – TDS functional line managers in consultation with People & Culture assess the resources against the requirements and identify if the resource requirement is short term, or long-term fixed period, or ongoing for operational delivery to make the decision of hiring a resource for the job on short term contract or on permanent basis.
  2. Recruitment Process – Inhouse Resources – Standard process of recruitment at TDS to recruit the staff on permanent or fixed term/hourly contract basis.
  3. Vendor Management– Outsourced (see Section 5) – Ensuring vendor performance meets the requirements of contract and facilitates continual improvement.

3.3        Development, Training & Performance Management

This stage includes the following as applicable to TDS –

  • Training and Development Policy
  • Occupational Health and Safety Training – conducted in the General Safety Induction training during the recruitment phase
  • Performance Management
  • Remunerations & Benefits Management – Rewards & Recognition
  • Succession Planning – implemented as part of annual Talent Management cycle
  • Leadership Development Training – implemented as part of annual Talent Management cycle
  • Promoting Diversity among staff
  • Organisational Objectives & Targets (Business Plan)

3.4        Goal Setting and Performance Management

Figure 3: Goal Setting Triangle Approach

Setting the individual’s performance targets is one of the most important aspects of the staff performance management at TDS. TDS has adopted the goal setting triangle approach as illustrated below. In line with the above approach, the functional line managers translate the organisational objectives and ensure that the practical objectives, goals, and targets are get for their teams. It is the functional line manager’s responsibility to explain the team goals to the staff and work with them to identify and set their individual goals. This approach is instrumental in ensuring the alignment between the team organisational goals and team/group goals and, between team/group and individual staff’s aspirations and goals. This process is one of the most important steps in ensuring effective engagement of staff and focussed delivery of the functional outcomes.

3.5        Performance Evaluation & Reporting

TDS  now has a revised process for assessing  performance of their staff  in order to identify  competency gaps. These identified gaps are then used to produce a robust development program for each staff member as required.

3.6        Rewards & Recognition

TDS has a robust process to ensure that staff are rewarded, motivated, and engaged in order to deliver the required functional outcome with energy and sincerity.

4        Competency Management System (CMS)

To simplify, streamline and align the application of TDS’s Competency Management System (CMS) –

  • position descriptions were reviewed to reflect key functions or a group of functions within the TDS’s Asset Management System (AMS) and the technical delivery (inspection or maintenance),
  • specific competencies for the positions were assigned, considering the mission critical functions within the AMS, operations & maintenance,
  • each position has a set of competencies, although there may be an overlap between some positions, recognising the linkages between roles,
  • competencies address the professional practice as well as organisational and leadership competencies, which are integral to good practice,
  • TDS’s Competency Profile/Matrix maps the competencies for all relevant positions and indicate the mandatory and optional (if any) competencies that have been assigned to each relevant position,
  • learning, training, and development are key elements of our engagement approach and a major driver of operational performance,

Figure 4: TDS Competency Management System (CMS)

we ensure applicable training to establish, implement and maintain culture, systems, processes, and qualifications,

  • staff competencies are assessed against the Competency Profile applicable to their position,
  • assessment of competencies is either linked to training courses or assessed without participating in training using our “competency assessment tool”.

TDS’s CMS as shown in Figure 4, is developed to allow staff and managers to achieve the following:

  • Identify the assigned asset management competencies for their position,
  • Demonstrate competence in the assigned competencies,
  • Build and improve competence as necessary in the assigned competencies,
  • Manage, record, and monitor competence levels over time and,
  • Measure competence attainment.
  • Assure Significant Contractors competencies

Assessment processes to gather evidence from staff about their competence may include any or all of the following:

  • Portfolio of evidence – An employee gathers documentary evidence based on the assessment guide, and the Assessor reviews the evidence to determine if the employee meets requirements.
  • On-job assessments – An employee will perform their responsibilities, as outlined in the assessment guide, and an Assessor will review the work undertaken to determine if the employee meets requirements.
  • Skill application and knowledge assessments – An employee will undertake a test or assessment to answer targeted questions, either direct questions or based on scenarios, and an Assessor reviews the answers to determine if the employee meets requirements.

Figure 5: TDS – Continued Professional Development Pathway for Asset management

TDS has adopted the AM Council’s asset management competency framework as part of the ongoing “continued professional development starting with the standard AM Fundamentals training course. The AM Council is a registered training provider that issues an accredited certificate to the participants on completion of courses that are recognised internationally. The AM Council has a certification pathway based on the AM competencies. This certification pathway has been adopted by TDS as the vehicle to develop staff. The pathway is flexible, efficient, and the most effective option for the current and future requirement of TDS. This process provides a targeted approach of asset management capability development not only to the individuals, who will receive the industry accredited certificate, but also to the managers who will be responsible for such continued development of their staff. The TDS Asset Management team now includes the Asset management Council’s certification scheme in the annual staff development reviews with the view to continually progress through the training pathway.

5        Vendor Management

One of the key findings of TfNSW’s AEO audit related to the TDS competency assurance of vendors and subcontractors. TfNSW AEO requirements are mandated to be passed down from TDS to all vendors and subcontractors that undertake supply and/or works in relation to Sydney Light Rail. TDS has three key subcontractors that are responsible for rolling stock, infrastructure, civil structures and facilities maintenance and cleaning of Sydney Light Rail assets. It is therefore imperative that TDS has appropriate vendor management systems in place to review and audit the vendors/subcontractors within the boundaries of the applicable contracts and the services they deliver for TDS.

TDS has developed and implemented a comprehensive vendor management framework (VMF) as shown in Figure 6 that provides the guidance for all aspects of vendor management and includes 6 stages as below –

  1. Vendor Selection management
  2. Contract Management
  3. Performance Management
  4. Relationship Management
  5. Financial Management
  6. Risk management

Figure 6: TDS – Vendor Management Framework

One of the key objectives of TDS VMF is to ensure that vendor performance requirements within the contractual obligations are met, and any failures to meet obligations are managed effectively whilst addressing opportunities to innovate or otherwise improve the outputs delivered. TDS VMF helps to –

  • Identify relevant contract terms and conditions, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and other measures that need to be monitored as part of ensuring good performance
  • Implement performance management activities detailed in the contract
  • Develop appropriate mechanisms, dashboards, meetings, and regular communications whereby the Vendor’s performance against the service KPIs and agreed HSEQ procurement targets are monitored to address performance issues, failures, or opportunities, and implement measures to remedy deficiencies.
  • Track the resolution of any deficiencies in performance
  • Enable identification of opportunities for improvement or efficiency, and for these to be tracked. 

TDS VMF also has processes in place to identify, document, mitigate and where required, escalate risks impacting areas of health and safety, compliance reputation, financial, assets, data, and property. TDS has developed a unique set of criteria of vendor audits that links the “Failure Mode Analysis” of the assets mapped with the applicable standards, documents etc. During the vendor audit, the assets failures are assessed against the standard reference documents and the performance levels such as compliance with technical maintenance plans (TMP) and corrective works management process. The competency and capability of staff (performing maintenance activities) is then confirmed in compliance with the AEO requirements. The non-conformances are addressed through specific action plans.

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