Delivering design continuity is a collaborative single source framework approach

Local highway authorities are progressively turning to single sourced framework agreements to balance increasing highway capacity demands with ever reducing capital and operational budgets.

In taking this step the need for surety in design continuity to deliver value for money becomes a key concern for local authorities and public bodies. In some situations it is recognised that the design support may not be required or appropriate at all times. In these circumstances it is important to gain confidence that the design support you received is seamless and provides continuity and consistency of approach.

The challenges faced include how you can assure appropriate design expertise is available at all times, including access to specialists where appropriate. How will your supplier manage collaboration with your own design team to ensure effective integration with your requirements? How will your 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 inform you when the value and efficiency of a single source framework approach is being realised?

It is important to look for evidence of long-term relationships between your suppliers’ design managers and the proposed design partners. Seek supporting evidence 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.

Look for a strong collaborative approach between the framework supplier, their design partner and specialist suppliers (such as off-site elements, steelwork, waterproofing, bridge joints and cathodic protection). These relationships need to be highly collaborative, combining these skills and expertise will foster an environment of challenge and creativity and will improve value for money through the framework’s life cycle.

There should a strong demonstration that robust design management controls, such as programme and change log, design query log, and submission log are in place. In addition, design meeting agendas should not simply be focused on the tactical delivery of design deliverables for each project in the framework. These sessions should review agreed design KPI’s and devote specific time for actively seeking and improving the design and design management processes to realise increased capacity and keep highway users moving.

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. A value register will track all the innovations introduced through your framework that have delivered added value. This can be then be used to articulate and share your achievements with your local stakeholders and funding/budget managers.

Single source frameworks clearly allow a number of improved working practices and programme efficiencies to be realised across the project lifecycle. Typically these include the development of common objectives, reduced person-to-person marking and increased capacity for learning and sharing.

By far the best way to evidence the impact of this collaborative approach to design continuity is in terms of the beneficial “outcomes” resulting from this way of working. By way of example a current single sourced collaborative framework has delivered over 1000 “approved first time” design submissions.