Investing in Unified and Consistent Design Standards for Highways Projects

Highways projects have unique challenges. Consequently, the design expertise needed varies in scale and in skill sets from project to project. With this complexity comes the potential for miscommunication, inconsistency and inefficiency. Lessons learned on one project are often not carried across to the next.
Single Sourced Framework Agreements can help bring consistency to methods, systems and ways of communicating across the full range of design specialisms. They can more easily achieve full integration and alignment with Local Authority Transport Asset Management Plans.

Above all, a framework should ensure that lessons are carried over – progressively improving standards and ways of working rather than establishing everything project by project.

Maximising design continuity should be a key objective for any framework, which means addressing some critical issues.

Design Continuity – key questions:

  • How will appropriate and specialist design expertise be made available as required?
  • How will framework suppliers manage collaboration with the LA design team?
  • How will the supplier manage the resourcing of the design service to deliver consistency of approach and ensure understanding and compliance with your Transport Asset Management Plan?
  • Then – and most importantly – what outcomes will tell you when you are realising the value and efficiency of a single source framework approach?

What you should you look for:

  • Evidence of long-term relationships between your supplier’s design managers and the proposed design partners.
  • Supporting evidence of where those relationships have innovated and delivered increased efficiency in the design process and enhanced highway capacity – both during the construction phase and from the completed project.
  • A strong collaborative approach between the framework supplier, their design partners and specialist suppliers (such as off-site elements, steelwork, waterproofing, bridge joints and cathodic protection).
  • Evidence that robust design management controls are in place.

These multi-tiered relationships need to be highly collaborative. They should make the most of diverse skills and experience and foster an environment of challenge and creativity.

Design meeting agendas should go beyond the tactical delivery of each project. They should review agreed design KPI’s and devote specific time for actively seeking and improving the design management processes. Increased capacity and keeping highway users moving should be constant priorities.

Commercial trackers should be in place to control, monitor and hold design resources to account for performance in terms of quality, achieving milestones and highlighting and mitigating overspend. And finally, a value register should track all the innovations introduced through your framework that have delivered added value. This can demonstrate your achievements and the value of the framework to local stakeholders and budget holders.

Single source frameworks promote the development of common objectives and increased capacity for learning and sharing. They also allow specific expertise to be brought into projects in a controlled way around agreed methods and standards.

Find out more by visiting Highways learning pages on our website.

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