Delivering Continuous Improvement in Highways Frameworks

Single sourced framework agreements should provide the long-term working partnership needed to apply learning from project to project. They should feed that learning into better planning and smarter working practices that progressively reduce costs and improve performance.

A successful framework should robustly address key questions:
•How can I deliver year on year efficiencies in my programme?
•How do I see more innovation and desire to change practices in my suppliers?
•How can I incentivise my suppliers to stretch performance and deliver value for money?
•With so many suppliers on my network, how do I maximise the optimisation of my asset and minimise disruption to highway users?
•How do I avoid mistakes being repeated?
•How can I optimise interventions to align with budget models?
•What type of marginal gains are possible in my asset maintenance and enhancement projects?

Framework agreements do not automatically resolve these issues. Unless the framework supplier has a clear vision and supporting processes aimed at delivering continuous improvement they cannot address the key challenge: keeping the asset in a safe and serviceable condition with maintenance interventions optimised to minimise disruption and unnecessary expense.

The expected budget, timing and quality improvements will remain elusive.

Frameworks should be an opportunity to focus on a ‘whole life’ approach to asset maintenance, reflecting DBFO financial model restrictions and ORR requirements. For this to happen, learning from experience and innovation are vital.

One of the biggest challenges is to secure complete collaboration with programme community partners, programme stakeholders and suppliers to ensure they share objectives. In this scenario, activities are coordinated with other programme providers to reduce disruption and traffic management costs.

Making this work requires investment in tools, relationships and processes.

Learning from experience is more difficult than many people imagine. It requires a culture where people are open about mistakes and willing to share and learn from them without trying to shift or avoid responsibility.

This is much easier to say than to do. Robust processes must be in place to capture and share good and bad experiences from every project and feed them into future planning and methods.

Frameworks deliver superior value when collaboration becomes embedded across the highway community and goes beyond contractual relationships. Reward and recognition must be aligned with defined success criteria, shared savings, asset performance levels (using KPI’s) and robust measures.

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