What We Do

Our aim is always to help you work more effectively and deliver better outcomes.

We work closely with our clients, their stakeholders and academic and industry experts to help build deeper, shared understanding, reach better, evidence-based decisions and evaluate whether and how initiatives are delivering benefits – especially where there is a high degree of risk, uncertainty or complexity 

Our work falls into three areas around the management or development cycle:

  • Research and Early Development: including core research and system modelling to inform both the correct framing of the challenge and evidence development
  • Decision Making: Options development and analysis, appraisal and impact assessment
  • Evaluation: Learning and feeding back to the system, as well as impact and outcome assessment in terms of delivery and value for money.

Across these areas we have three specialist skills essential to working with complexity, uncertainty and risk.

  • Handling Complexity, Risk and Uncertainty: realistically and openly, bringing clarity on key issues and the trade-offs inherent in real world situations using innovative methods such as participatory modelling as well as more conventional approaches including facilitated discussions and statistical analysis.
  • Modelling:  approaches we excel in include: dependency (Bayesian belief net) modelling, agent-based modelling, simulation modelling, and advanced statistical methods.  We have particular expertise in participatory modelling, using models as a safe space within which to structure often difficult conversations, and explore complex issues.
  • Engagement: whether with a small group of leaders and experts, with an entire industry or if required, nationally with all stakeholder groups affected by the proposed decision or challenge.

Research and Early Development

Good decisions are based on evidence – but perfect evidence is rarely possible.  We can help you build a deeper understanding of the issues that concern you, and help you understand the implications of what remains unknown or uncertain.

We bring expertise in both traditional and more innovative, qualitative and quantitative methods. Our skill lies in picking the right combination of tools for the job, and keeping focused on what you need to know. Our aim is always to ensure that the approach used generates outputs that meet your need – providing robust, transparent and useful information.

We have particular expertise in data analysis and modelling, including methods that provide a means of combining hard, statistical data, with lower quality data and expert judgement. Complexity, data limitations and the sophistication of the questions being considered often means that a rigorous statistical approach is not feasible and modelling approaches based on a theoretical understanding of the relationships and mechanisms involved are needed to model some (or all) of the problem.  Participatory approaches can be particular powerful, where the issues are complex and where there is currently little consensus.

Our research work includes work for the railway industry investigating how delays cascade across the railway network. Our work as members of CECAN includes developing and promoting ways to tackle evaluation in complex environments.

  • CCRA
    Climate change affects many sectors, but the way that climate change risks interact between sectors is not well understood. Risk Solutions are working with climate resilience experts from WSP, ADAS and UCL, helping the Climate Change Committee (CCC) better understand how climate related risks interact and how the effects of risks cascading through ...
    Read more
  • Water Abstraction Reform
    Risk Solutions helped Defra design and test changes to the regime that govern how users can abstract water from rivers and ground water aquifers, in response to increasing pressures from demographic and climate change. We managed a multi-disciplinary team that engaged water users, environmental groups and regulators in the construction of an integrated water ...
    Read more
  • Development of a Network Performance Model
    The network performance model (NPM) was developed for Highways England by Risk Solutions. It is a software model that supports analysis of traffic performance on the strategic road network (SRN). It is used by the HA national intelligence unit (NIU) to support their analysis of network performance. Highways England uses this type of analysis ...
    Read more
  • Developing a Safety Risk Model
    Risk Solutions has developed a comprehensive Safety Risk Model that analyses the risks to road users, road workers and Traffic Officers associated with the operation, maintenance and improvement of the Strategic Road Network (SRN) in England. The work involves sophisticated data analytics and visualisation of complex road safety risk.
    Read more
  • Foot and Mouth
    Following the 2001 outbreak of FMD, Defra imposed a 20-day standstill period prohibiting any livestock movements off-farm following the arrival of an animal. The 20-day rule caused significant difficulties for farmers. The Lessons Learned Inquiry, which reported in July 2002, recommended that the 20-day standstill remain in place pending a detailed cost-benefit analysis of the ...
    Read more
  • Agent Based Modelling: what is the big deal about policy?
    This event run by NEKS (‘New Economic Knowledge Services ltd’ https://www.neks.ltd/) allowed attendees to better understand how ABMs are best used to inform policy and regulatory strategies. It is given by people who have both built and used ABMs. Jonathan Hyde from Risk Solutions presents at the event, describing how our agent based models solve ...
    Read more
  • Value for money decision support tool for HS2
    HS2 Ltd faces many design decisions in the delivery of high speed rail in the UK. Each design decision has cost implications, and crucially, implications for delivery of benefits. WSP and Risk Solutions have created a whole life value tool for HS2. HS2 and ITS contractors are now using the tool to measure and compare ...
    Read more

Decision Making

Decisions are rarely risk-free. Choices must be made with varying degrees of risk and uncertainty. ‘Do nothing’ may be the riskiest decision of all. Risk Solutions has an unrivalled reputation for working in complex and often controversial areas to bring clarity to the issues and help achieve consensus concerning the best way forward.

We help our clients:

  • Research the decision context
  • Identify and develop different ways of realising change including clarifying organisational and cultural aspects that will influence successful implementation
  • Characterise options, in terms of costs, benefits and risks including identifying undesirable outcomes, appraising options and optimising the design of the preferred option
  • Engage champions for change, and
  • Clearly present the results

We have particular skills where there are high-levels of complexity, uncertainty or risk.  We are able to work in data poor environments using advanced, participatory modelling methods to develop shared understanding of the issues and engage stakeholders directly in the development of solutions.

We have helped design and appraise policy reforms in areas ranging from the reform of the water abstraction regime to the management of exotic animal diseases.

Recently...

  • FSA
    The Food Standard Agency are an independent Government department working across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to protect public health and consumers’ wider interests in food. Their aim is to use their expertise and influence so that people can trust that the food they buy and eat is safe and honest. This project, delivered ...
    Read more
  • Water Abstraction Reform
    Risk Solutions helped Defra design and test changes to the regime that govern how users can abstract water from rivers and ground water aquifers, in response to increasing pressures from demographic and climate change. We managed a multi-disciplinary team that engaged water users, environmental groups and regulators in the construction of an integrated water ...
    Read more
  • Development of a Network Performance Model
    The network performance model (NPM) was developed for Highways England by Risk Solutions. It is a software model that supports analysis of traffic performance on the strategic road network (SRN). It is used by the HA national intelligence unit (NIU) to support their analysis of network performance. Highways England uses this type of analysis ...
    Read more
  • Developing a Safety Risk Model
    Risk Solutions has developed a comprehensive Safety Risk Model that analyses the risks to road users, road workers and Traffic Officers associated with the operation, maintenance and improvement of the Strategic Road Network (SRN) in England. The work involves sophisticated data analytics and visualisation of complex road safety risk.
    Read more
  • Foot and Mouth
    Following the 2001 outbreak of FMD, Defra imposed a 20-day standstill period prohibiting any livestock movements off-farm following the arrival of an animal. The 20-day rule caused significant difficulties for farmers. The Lessons Learned Inquiry, which reported in July 2002, recommended that the 20-day standstill remain in place pending a detailed cost-benefit analysis of the ...
    Read more
  • Value for money decision support tool for HS2
    HS2 Ltd faces many design decisions in the delivery of high speed rail in the UK. Each design decision has cost implications, and crucially, implications for delivery of benefits. WSP and Risk Solutions have created a whole life value tool for HS2. HS2 and ITS contractors are now using the tool to measure and compare ...
    Read more

Evaluation

Real life is messy.  Complexity provides particular challenges to evaluation.  A wide range of interacting factors will influence outcomes, and the significance of these may change over time as the system responds to the intervention and other changes in the environment. Traditional evaluation approaches often fail to deliver reliable insights in these situations.

Risk Solutions’ expertise in evaluation has been built up over many years working with clients such as the Rail Safety and Standards Board, Defra, BEIS and the HSE.  As practitioners working on complex, multi-layered evaluations we have actively contributed to the work of the Centre for Evaluating Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) developing and promoting approaches to the management and delivery of evaluations in complex situations. We are expert in a wide range of theory-based and developmental methods, including system mapping and modelling-based methods developed specifically to handle complexity.

We can help develop and embed evaluation frameworks, deliver continuous evaluation and learning to support adaptive management, and look back to assess the impact of an intervention.

We have helped clients carry out rapid evaluations to inform a submission to a spending review and helped teams develop their own evaluative capacity.  We are currently delivering the 5-year, realist evaluation of the heat networks investment project for BEIS and providing ongoing support to the 10 year plus longer semi-trailer trial for DfT.

Recently...

  • Heat Networks Investment Project
    Risk Solutions and partners are delivering a multi-wave process and impact evaluation of BEIS’ Heat Networks investment project, which aims to help scale up the market for heat networks in the UK by investing £320m in individual projects across England and Wales.
    Read more
  • The National Audit Office Value-for-Money
    Since we were first appointed in 2009 Risk Solutions have provided independent comment on over 100 National Audit Office (NAO) value for money reviews and investigations. We review a sample of reports each year against fixed criteria including the use of quantitative and qualitative data and analysis and how well these are synthesised to ...
    Read more
  • Health and social care
    The integration of our Health and Social Care systems to provide seamless care is a major challenge of our time. The Local Government Association (LGA) has a series of initiatives aimed a supporting local health and care leaders in making this integration a reality. As they do so, Risk Solutions has been supporting ...
    Read more
  • Drug Driving evaluation
    Our evaluation of the first year of operation of the drug driving legislation introduced in 2015 has been published by the Department for Transport.
    Read more
  • Value for money decision support tool for HS2
    HS2 Ltd faces many design decisions in the delivery of high speed rail in the UK. Each design decision has cost implications, and crucially, implications for delivery of benefits. WSP and Risk Solutions have created a whole life value tool for HS2. HS2 and ITS contractors are now using the tool to measure and compare ...
    Read more
  • Longer Semi-Trailer Trial
    Longer-semi trailers (LSTs) allow more goods to be transported at once, allowing operators to reduce the number of lorries on the road for the same total quantity of cargo. DfT are trialling use of these new trailers on roads in Great Britain and Risk Solutions have been retained since 2012 to carry out the independent evaluation ...
    Read more

Handling Complexity, Risk and Uncertainty

Decision-makers today face a daunting array of challenges:  for example an aging society, public health, climate change and managing the tensions between improving productivity and protecting the natural environment. These challenges share a common feature – complexity.

At Risk Solutions we working with our clients to bring clarity to complex problems. We bring a systems perspective, combining quantitative analysis with stakeholder and expert opinion, developing bespoke models and using advanced statistical methods to shed new light on a subject and reach robust conclusions, even where data is sparse and there is deep uncertainty.

We have helped clients working in high risk, complex and changing environments: design and appraise interventions, make strategic decisions in the face of significant uncertainty and evaluate interventions. As members of CECAN we have contributed to the design and dissemination of innovative methods for handling complexity.

Examples of our work in this area includes our work on understanding how the drivers of poverty interact for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and our work with the Climate Change Committee to improve understanding of how the multiple risks presented by climate change cascading through systems can affect outcomes.

Recently...

  • FSA
    The Food Standard Agency are an independent Government department working across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to protect public health and consumers’ wider interests in food. Their aim is to use their expertise and influence so that people can trust that the food they buy and eat is safe and honest. This project, delivered ...
    Read more
  • CCRA
    Climate change affects many sectors, but the way that climate change risks interact between sectors is not well understood. Risk Solutions are working with climate resilience experts from WSP, ADAS and UCL, helping the Climate Change Committee (CCC) better understand how climate related risks interact and how the effects of risks cascading through ...
    Read more
  • Water Abstraction Reform
    Risk Solutions helped Defra design and test changes to the regime that govern how users can abstract water from rivers and ground water aquifers, in response to increasing pressures from demographic and climate change. We managed a multi-disciplinary team that engaged water users, environmental groups and regulators in the construction of an integrated water ...
    Read more
  • Development of a Network Performance Model
    The network performance model (NPM) was developed for Highways England by Risk Solutions. It is a software model that supports analysis of traffic performance on the strategic road network (SRN). It is used by the HA national intelligence unit (NIU) to support their analysis of network performance. Highways England uses this type of analysis ...
    Read more
  • Developing a Safety Risk Model
    Risk Solutions has developed a comprehensive Safety Risk Model that analyses the risks to road users, road workers and Traffic Officers associated with the operation, maintenance and improvement of the Strategic Road Network (SRN) in England. The work involves sophisticated data analytics and visualisation of complex road safety risk.
    Read more
  • Foot and Mouth
    Following the 2001 outbreak of FMD, Defra imposed a 20-day standstill period prohibiting any livestock movements off-farm following the arrival of an animal. The 20-day rule caused significant difficulties for farmers. The Lessons Learned Inquiry, which reported in July 2002, recommended that the 20-day standstill remain in place pending a detailed cost-benefit analysis of the ...
    Read more

Modelling

Models can help us understand how the real world works, test out how a system may respond to different interventions and explain complex and difficult aspects of system behaviour. Risk Solutions are experts in using models to bring insight and understanding wherever there is complexity, uncertainty or controversy.

We have particularly deep expertise in participatory modelling approaches. From co-construction of system maps to eliciting input to support detailed simulation or agent-based modelling, our expert facilitators and modellers help groups to explore the nature of a system and how it might respond to different interventions and external stimuli. We have a proven track-record generating shared understanding of the issues and engaging stakeholders to generate widespread support for the need for, and form of, change.

Through our work with CECAN we are helping to move awareness and practice within Government departments forward in this area. Working closely with our clients and their stakeholders our modelling has helped: inform changes to water abstraction licensing in England and Wales, prioritise motorway improvements and design and test foot and mouth disease risk management strategies.

Recently...

  • Water Abstraction Reform
    Risk Solutions helped Defra design and test changes to the regime that govern how users can abstract water from rivers and ground water aquifers, in response to increasing pressures from demographic and climate change. We managed a multi-disciplinary team that engaged water users, environmental groups and regulators in the construction of an integrated water ...
    Read more
  • Value for money decision support tool for HS2
    HS2 Ltd faces many design decisions in the delivery of high speed rail in the UK. Each design decision has cost implications, and crucially, implications for delivery of benefits. WSP and Risk Solutions have created a whole life value tool for HS2. HS2 and ITS contractors are now using the tool to measure and compare ...
    Read more

Engagement

Risk Solutions brings an organisational development perspective to our engagement activities whether it is building strong, effective project teams with our client or engaging whole sectors in understanding a complex issue.

One of Risk Solutions’ core strengths is our ability to assemble and manage multi-disciplinary, cross organisational teams, bringing different knowledge, experience and perspectives effectively to bear on a problem.  Bridging the traditional client, consultant, subcontractor, peer reviewer divide we build integrated teams with common goals, often using agile management methods to ensure that each member of the team is aware of their part in meeting goals and has the support they need to deliver this.

We also bring wide experience of stakeholder engagement and facilitation including: 

  • Certified professional facilitation
  • Facilitating participative and co-production processes (e.g. system mapping, dependency modelling)
  • Engagement across entire sectors, and
  • Building multi-organisation, cross discipline communities of practice.

We are results oriented; ensuring that the time participants commit to the engagement results in positive outcomes both for them and the wider undertaking.

We have used our engagement and team integration skills to, among other things, support evaluation of a 10-year trial of the introduction of new semi-trailers to UK roads and build consensus to support introduction of controversial water abstraction reform and foot and mouth disease controls.

Recently...

  • Water Abstraction Reform
    Risk Solutions helped Defra design and test changes to the regime that govern how users can abstract water from rivers and ground water aquifers, in response to increasing pressures from demographic and climate change. We managed a multi-disciplinary team that engaged water users, environmental groups and regulators in the construction of an integrated water ...
    Read more
  • Health and social care
    The integration of our Health and Social Care systems to provide seamless care is a major challenge of our time. The Local Government Association (LGA) has a series of initiatives aimed a supporting local health and care leaders in making this integration a reality. As they do so, Risk Solutions has been supporting ...
    Read more
  • Drug Driving evaluation
    Our evaluation of the first year of operation of the drug driving legislation introduced in 2015 has been published by the Department for Transport.
    Read more

Example Projects

Here is a list of projects that we have worked on: