How Framework Agreements Improve Communication, Reputation Management and Third Party Engagement
Single Sourced Framework Agreements help Local Authorities extract maximum value from hard-pressed highways budgets. Better communication is the key that unlocks much of this added value.
The way partners in the agreement communicate – between each other and with other stakeholders – is the cornerstone of a partnership that transcends the normal customer-supplier relationship. The long-term, integrated approach to communication made possible by the framework improves reputation management and third party engagement.
Highways projects cause disruption – to the public, to local businesses, and to owners and users of other infrastructure assets such as Network Rail.
An effective framework partnership does a better job of jointly communicating the need for and benefits of highways programmes. It is also better at identifying and communicating the impact of highways schemes and keeping all stakeholders updated on progress. Delays and unforeseen issues are identified earlier and managed to minimise disruption and negative publicity.
The question for any authority considering a Framework Agreement is exactly how these enhanced levels of communication will be achieved. These are not details to be worked out once the contracts are signed – they are fundamental to the way the framework needs to be implemented.
Key elements of better framework communication:
The Framework Mobilisation Plan must define the expected common behaviours of people involved from the supplier and the customer. The plan must be founded on a shared commitment to open and honest communication.
The Framework Communication Plan, implemented during mobilisation should spell out, in detail, how communication will take place and who will be responsible. The collaborative framework team must embrace open communication and engagement at every level of the framework. This is about culture as much as process.
The Framework Project Board that oversees the delivery of the framework programme must actively help to create that culture; one that embraces cross-framework communications and supports the development and sharing of highways best practice.
A Stakeholder Management Plan should coordinate all communications over the lifecycle of each project. It will typically identify third party matters, contact details, planned communications methods, expected outcomes and actions. Target audiences and the key messages to be communicated should also be confirmed.
Network Rail is a regular and influential third party stakeholder for many Local Authority highways projects. Network Rail needs to see evidence of the identification and proven mitigation of risks to the railway and their passengers to give prompt approval from planning, design, development and through all stages of each project implementation.
We know from experience that the quality of communications over a sustained period promotes the confidence that organisations like Network Rail need to authorise or support planned works. For the record, Osborne has planned and completed over 25,000 railway possessions and has over 1000 railway project designs approved first time with Network Rail.
Find out more by visiting Highways learning pages on our website.