VIP Questions and Answers


What is VIP?
VIP is a programme of workshops based on tried and tested techniques from the aerospace industry, designed to identify and root out inefficiency in the railway industry supply chain.

Click here to view a presentation from December 2015, introducing VIP to Network Rail’s Commercial Directors Forum.

What are VIP’S objectives?
“To achieve improved value and efficiency for all Railway Industry customers and suppliers throughout the supply chain using open and positive relationships.”
Who should be interested in VIP…?
Any organisation involved at any stage in the entire railway industry supply chain.
…and why?
Because if the industry is to achieve the volumes and efficiencies required during CP4 and beyond, we know that it needs urgently to reduce its cost base and to improve its performance. To do this, inefficiencies in the supply chain must be identified and eradicated as quickly as possible. Industry-wide use of VIP could go a long way to achieving that in a win/win manner.
Do key industry stakeholders support VIP?
Yes. The VIP Code of Practice was drafted by a cross-industry steering group . It outlines the philosophy behind VIP and is recommended reading. Click here for VIP Code of Practice. The Network Rail Supply Chain Charter is entirely consistent with the VIP Code, and urges all to abide by its principles. Click here for Network Rail Supply Chain Charter.
What’s in the VIP code of practice?
Some of its guiding principles are:-

  • Communicate well, early and often
  • Share plans and uncertainties
  • Involve suppliers at an early stage
  • Obtain win/win solutions for all parties – concentrate on life-cycle costs
  • Challenge attitudes, customs and standards, where they do not affect health and safety
  • Engender a culture of co-operation and mutual support. Treat others as you would expect to be treated; show mutual respect.


How does VIP work?
VIP uses facilitated workshops to increase efficiency by improving supply chain culture and behaviours. The basic principles of the VIP Code underpin the workshops. These can be carried out either in individual companies or with a number of companies, involved in a particular part of a supply chain. They are facilitated by an experienced consultancy called Sigma (who also organised the earlier aerospace workshops) and are held at a mutually agreed location.
What is the format of these workshops?
“Insights” – Immediately prior to the workshop, the facilitator, in what is called the “insights” phase, will conduct face-to-face interviews with key personnel from both client and supplier bodies. These gives a clear indication of what customer and client think of both their own, and also each other’s performance, and also of where the key barriers and blockers to, and opportunities for, progress might lie. A report summarising the results (identified by the company) is circulated before the workshop proper takes place.

Initial Workshop – Typically the workshops are split into two sessions. The first is a two-day residential session to workshop pre-agreed issues. Ideally there should be not more than 20 delegates – all empowered.

A comprehensive handbook including the VIP Code and a “toolkit” of techniques to improve supply chain relationships is provided. The workshop deliverables are:-

  • Improved relationship management
  • Integrated supply chain processes
  • Risk management and mitigation

The workshop output is an action plan addressing the key issues with specific actions logged to named individuals within a prescribed time frame.

Follow-Up Workshop

The second session is a one-day follow-up around 6 months or so later to assess progress against the agreed action plan. This programme is flexible however and,depending upon need, further workshops, either facilitated or not, can be held as required. The logic is that the need for facilitation will cease once the relationship has reached sufficient maturity for the basic principles of the Code to be applied by the parties themselves.

Does VIP work?
Yes. We have carried out nearly 90 workshops to date. Most of those have concentrated on Network Rail and suppliers in the Signalling and Telecoms discipline but there have also been a number on the rolling stock side. Both Network Rail and suppliers for example have been very complimentary about the benefits of the workshops. We are now looking with Network Rail at identifying projects and/or stakeholder relationships in other asset categories – particularly the larger projects that have a significant number of stakeholder interfaces to manage.
How do I find out more?
By contacting Peter Loosley at the Railway Industry Association. Contact details are as follows:- Railway Industry Association, 22 Headfort Place, London SW1X 7RY

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7201 0777



You will then be sent a more detailed information pack that we hope will make you decide to participate. We strongly urge you to do so. It is in your interest as well as that of the industry.