Helping the UK Government to Improve Highway Asset Management

Assessing asset management maturity and providing a strategy to help Highways England manage their assets

Continuous Improvement for Better Results

The UK Government wanted to improve the way that the Strategic Highway Network was managed, with the objective of measuring performance and introducing some form of accountability. A law was passed and a new Company called Highways England was created to replace the former Highways Agency. This new Company is now operating under a Licence and is required to perform against a wide range of performance obligations. Highways England’s performance is now expected to be on a recognized continuous improvement path and the year-on-year improvements will be monitored by The Highways Monitor.

To reflect the need for continuous business improvement, the Licence requires that Highways England adopt a long-term approach to asset management. Furthermore, the means to measure and assess continuous improvement must be consistent with ISO 55000, the International Standard covering the framework for management of physical assets.

Rolling out Asset Management Principles in Compliance with ISO 55000

WSP won the contract to assess the asset management maturity of Highways England’s Operational Technology Division, and to kick start the process of enabling the cultural and mind-set shift from ‘Agency thinking’ to ‘Company thinking’.

Through our customized stakeholder management approach and the delivery of focussed workshops explaining the fundamentals of ISO 55000, we were able to quickly enfranchise a broad range of Client stakeholders enabling the quick buy-in to asset management principles.

Having gained this level of trust and adopting a sensitive approach to the enquiry process, we undertook an extensive review of existing business practices. The areas
reviewed included for example governance, policy, leadership and commitment, risk, investment planning, competency management, decision-making capability around asset whole life, a broad range of engineering management practices and information management.

Turning the Findings into a Business Improvement Strategy

Operational Technology is off to a good start as far as asset management practices are concerned. The findings were catalogued as evidence, and we produced an asset management maturity assessment report that explained the organization’s current status, and the rationale and basis for improvement. Importantly, our experienced consultants were able to bring in real-world examples so Highways England Management could place their situation and status into context, explaining the benefits business changes will bring. The report included commentary on every aspect of the organization’s capability as well as a comprehensive range of quick-win, short, medium and long-term improvements.

In addition, we used the observations and recommendations of the asset management maturity assessment report to produce a formalized top-level Asset Management Strategy for the Senior Executive, for approval purposes. The strategy calls for:

  • Developing Asset Management Governance and Policy. WSP can support Highways England in establishing steering groups and mentoring senior managers.
  • Developing stakeholder management capability. We can help in implementing a stakeholder management processes that identifies roles/responsibilities, individuals and groups that are likely to affect or be affected by the organization.
  • Developing an integrated risk and opportunity management framework. This will enable holistic decision-making around asset whole life, balancing one decision off with others.
  • Developing an Asset Management Investment Plan. This will define investment or decommission in infrastructure, as well as defining new competencies required for business continuity.
  • Developing an Asset Information and Data improvement requirements. This will improve decision-making around engineering practices such as Availability, Reliability, Failures, Whole Life Cost etc.

These consulting services can be applied to any business sector.