Innovation and Collaboration in Highways

Highways frameworks have a straightforward fundamental objective: maintaining road asset condition above a defined threshold while spend is maintained below the investment profile.

The way the framework is established and operated should address some key concerns related to meeting this challenge:
•How open learning and sharing across suppliers’ teams will enable programme outcomes to be achieved.
•How learning and best practice from suppliers and wider industry will be applied to framework projects.
•How to get away from the ‘same old, same old’ to optimise capacity of highway assets while demonstrating increasing efficiency and value for money.
•How to encourage innovation and collaboration within the supply chain to continually improve asset management programme outcomes.
•How to avoid mistakes being repeated, over and over.
•How to increase capacity when the spend is reducing year on year.

To meet these challenges and deliver the promised added value frameworks need to achieve several objectives:
•Create an innovative community culture with appropriate leadership and the ‘space to innovate.’
•Create space to research and understand the existing asset and the Asset Management Forward Plan.
•Plan how relevant knowledge will be acquired and capability expanded throughout the contract lifecycle.
•Have a clear understanding of how added value will be tracked and measured.

so how do we unlock the expertise?  Meeting the asset challenge means having a strategy that proactively acquires, develops and shares relevant knowledge. You can’t assume that simply having a small group of suppliers involved over a sustained period will automatically accumulate and share knowledge and best practice.

Similarly, framework partnerships don’t learn from past projects or from the wider industry, unless there’s a positive and determined effort to do so.

Harnessing expertise throughout the framework supply chain is critical. This means understanding where appropriate expertise resides, having a process to leverage that expertise, and understanding how gaps will be identified and filled.

Communication and a collaborative culture are critical elements in ensuring that all partners make the maximum contribution to meeting the framework objectives. Innovation needs to be encouraged and supported at all levels so that everyone contributes to improving quality and maximising efficiencies.

Successful frameworks also reach out beyond the framework community to seek new ideas and best practice from the wider industry and academics. They look beyond the present project challenges and consider future resourcing requirements to ensure the required resources and knowledge are always available when needed.

As well as learning from experience, framework communities must be continually innovating and looking forward. Creating an innovative community culture is important. But it needs to be more than just fine words. Innovation needs allocated time and space. And it needs to be somebody’s job.