In 2018, ADEPT entered an exclusive research partnership with Proving Services (Proving), offering best practice research and benchmarking services to ADEPT local authority members. Since that time, the partnership has grown significantly, with over 31 local authorities actively participating in research groups. 18 months on, the partnership is proud to announce the launch of its new Strategic Options Analyser toolkit.
Simon Wilson, Research Programme Director for Proving and the Future Highways Research Group (FHRG), talks about the new strategic toolkit available to ADEPT members and explains how it can help local authorities plan better, greener and more financially resilient services.
The world has changed over the last 12 months. The time before the Covid-19 lockdown and Climate Emergencies already seems distant and somewhat alien. It is likely that the world is entering a new ‘normal’, where new social practices, clean air, low carbon, and remote working, remain the top priorities.
Over the past six months, Proving has been working with ADEPT and FHRG members to understand what is needed to help local authorities develop and implement effective strategies for a new landscape. Mindful of the changing marketplace, citizen needs and political objectives, this research group has created a new strategic planning toolkit and tested it with real-world, strategic initiatives from local authorities across the country.
Now freely available to ADEPT local authority members, the Strategic Options Analyser is designed to support the analysis and prioritisation of future strategic initiatives. In effect, the toolkit is used to create a route map of business changes towards an authority’s strategic outcomes. These outcomes may include:
- Improving the condition of the highway network for both the existing and new types of user.
- Developing the local economy and transforming assets for the post-carbon world.
- Improving financial resilience; increasing revenues and decreasing costs.
- Increasing citizen engagement, support, and satisfaction.
- Reducing greenhouse gases and improving air quality.
- Engaging with internal and political stakeholders and aligning services with political goals.
This powerful strategic toolkit – the first of its kind for the sector - allows ADEPT members to quickly select and input data to assess the attractiveness and achievability of each strategic initiative. This analysis includes the:
- Scale, confidence and longevity of the financial benefits. With an automatically calculated five-year, confidence adjusted projection.
- Whole-life costs, costs confidence and funding sources. With an automatically calculated financial payback period.
- Consequential and planned environmental outcomes. Including assessments for seven greenhouse gases and five COMEAP air pollutants.
- The social benefits, including wellbeing, equality and sustainability.
- The likely attitudes and responses of key stakeholders; officers, members and citizens.
- The risks, timescales, resource demands and barriers to success.
- The necessary roles of providers and partners.
On completion of this initial analysis, attractive and achievable options can be added to the active strategic portfolio. This can then be submitted for approval, design, development and implementation.
For example, Strategic Options Analyser allows users to enter costs, savings, environmental impact, and social benefits for a range of possible projects, such as dimming streetlights, solar farming, or heat networks. The toolkit analyses the aggregated data to calculate the total costs, benefits, risks, social value, and environmental impact for all the strategic projects in the portfolio. By also assessing the complexity, affordability and resources required to deliver each of the projects, the toolkit can also calculate the achievability of the portfolio.
By working closely with ADEPT members and leading organisations in the private, regulated and third sectors, Proving has identified 96 high-potential strategic initiatives. These initiatives have been pre-loaded into Strategic Options Analyser as template ‘options’. These options allow local authorities to explore and develop a wide range of strategic ideas and adapt them based on their own circumstances and data. The current options library includes 42 climate emergency options and 54 revenue-generating, cost recovery and cost-offsetting options. During June 2020, Proving will extend the options library to include a suite of Covid-19 response and recovery options.
Strategic Options Analyser provides local authorities with an easy to use environment for investigating new ideas, prior to making costly and risky strategic decisions. Local authorities who choose to use the toolkit will be invited to join the research group, adding their options and learning to the growing library of options available to the sector.
Since March, local authorities have been forced to work quickly and flexibly, managing and adapting services during the Covid-19 lockdown. Balancing pressures on budgets, while continuing to operate effectively has been a tough challenge. The toolkit can help local authorities plan the post-lockdown landscape, allowing authorities to develop recovery and transformation after the lockdown restrictions are lifted.
ADEPT local authority members can use the toolkit for free with simple guidance available from a user guide. An optional low-cost, per-seat training programme will be offered with sessions held at Cranfield University. For those seeking to accelerate their strategic planning activities, there is also the option to have an onsite or virtual facilitated strategic planning session for highways and transportation services. Fees for facilitated planning start at £4,850 + VAT and include in-house training. All fees are used to fund both ADEPT and future research activities.