Investigating the business process implications of managing road works and street works
2017-06-30T15:38:39Z (GMT) by
Around 2.5 million utility works (street works) occurred in England in 2016 with a construction cost of approximately £2 billion. Comparative figures for highway works (road works) are not readily available, but are expected to be similarly significant. Unsurprisingly, the volume of road works and street works (RWSW) activity in urban areas is considered to have a negative impact on the road network causing disruption and premature deterioration, blighting the street scene, damaging local business trade, and significantly increasing social, economic and environmental costs. Indeed the social costs of street works alone are estimated to be around £5.1 billion annually. Despite the economic significance of highway infrastructure, the subject of road works and street works management is under-researched, with greater research emphasis on technology-based, as opposed to policy-based management approaches. Consequently, the aim of this study was to investigate the efficiency and effectiveness of managing the business process of RWSW. Due to limited academic literature in the subject domain, earlier research focused on identifying the industry actors, their motivations, as well as drivers and barriers to RWSW management. Semi-structured interviews with industry stakeholders highlighted the industry s complexity and revealed that several issues contributed to ineffective RWSW management. Principal problems included Street Authorities (SA) failing to take enough ownership of the RWSW coordination process, highway legislation not encouraging joint working due to inherent challenges arising from reinstatement guarantees, and entrenched attitudes and adversarial practices in the construction industry encouraging silo working. The Derby Permit Scheme (legislative tool) was intended to improve RWSW management through giving SAs greater control of highway works. Accordingly, RWSW activity was tested through a statistical time series intervention analysis to separately examine the impacts of the Highway Authority (HA) led works and utility industry led works over 6.5 years. The Permit Scheme was found to reduce utility works durations by around 5.4%; equivalent to 727 days, saving between £2.1 - £7.4 million in construction and societal costs annually. Conversely, the Permit Scheme did not noticeable reduce the HA led works. Instead, the introduction of a works order management system (WOMS) to automate some of the back office road works process was found to reduce works durations by 34%; equivalent to 6519 days and saving between £8.3 - £48.3m per annum. This case study highlighted that more considered practices were required by the HA to reduce RWSW. The stakeholder study and the automated WOMS technology found that well-managed business processes tended to lead to better executed highway works on-site. Informed by these experiences, the sponsor was keen to re-engineer its internal business processes. Business process mapping was adopted to identify inefficient practices and improved coordinated working opportunities on three key internal teams involved in the road works process. Findings revealed that silo working was inherent and that processes were built around fragmented and outdated Information Technology (IT) systems, creating inefficiencies. A subsequent validation exercise found that certain practices, such as restricted data access and hierarchal management styles were culturally embedded and also common across other local authorities. Peer reviewed recommendations to improve working practices were made, such as adopting an integrated Highways Management IT system, vertical integration between the customer relationship management IT system and the Highways IT systems, and the provision of regulatory training. In conclusion, based on the finding of this study, a generic logic map was created with potential to transfer the learning to other local authorities and for their use when evaluating road works administrative processes.