Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Construction Engineering


Dr Rizwana Shaheen Hussain


Investigating the business process implications of managing road works and street works

Project Title

Reengineering the management of highway excavation to provide enhanced collaborative working and best value


Derby City Council


Academic Supervisors:
Dr Marcus Enoch
Dr Kirti Ruikar

Industrial Supervisors:
Mr Nigel Brien
Mr David Gartside

Director of Research:
Prof Stephen Ison

Research Period

2012 - 2016



Reengineering the management of highway excavation to provide enhanced collaborative working and best value

Context and Background

Derby City Council is a unitary local authority in the East Midlands employing around 10,000 people. The authority manages and maintains the highway operations and infrastructure of most roads within Derby.  Engineering works affecting the operation of the highway can be necessitated by the Council through its Highway Maintenance and Structural Maintenance teams as well as statutory undertakers such as electric, gas and water companies seeking to access and maintain their underground apparatus. Road works generate operational costs for the work promoter as well as costs to the economy through congestion, air pollutants and wasted time for motorists. 

The challenge - an “over the wall syndrome” appears to exist where silo working takes place between departments, leading to wasted costs internally.  This is further exacerbated by silo working also taking place amongst individual utility companies. 

The opportunity – to undertake a detailed investigation of the issues and practices across the highway engineering industry and investigate the most appropriate business process mapping and re-engineering techniques.  This will help to rationalise processes to help increase co-ordination of street works.

The benefits – process re-engineering will help address current issues of silo working and enable collaborative working across the Council and utility companies.  It will also help to :

  • reduce congestion and its associated costs
  • reduce organisational costs through reducing duplications and inefficient processes
  • optimise highway capacity in keeping with the authority’s statutory Network Management Duty
  • reduce the premature deterioration of the structural life of the highway
  • reduce societal impact
  • reduce the impact on air quality and green house gas emissions

Current state-of-the-art

The Authority has a duty to facilitate the safe and expeditious movement of traffic on the highway network; road space maximisation is a crucial component in enabling this.  There have been a number of instances where roads have been excavated and resurfaced, but then within a short period have been subsequently excavated by an alternative contractor – this leads to thousands of pounds in wasted costs.  Repeating works leads to money being wasted in costs through staff, materials, traffic management, and time as well as in congestion.

Within the highways maintenance industry the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) have created a Collaborative Alliance Toolkit aimed at authorities sharing procurement activities to gain competitive prices.   A Business Process Mapping (BPM) approach exists within the construction engineering industry where concurrent engineering is now applied.  Therefore, there is an opportunity to draw parallels from the industry and transfer lessons learnt.

Key Experts will include highway managers, utility companies and process experts. 

In keeping with the authority’s statutory Network Management Duty and to reduce congestion caused by street works, the Derby Permit Scheme for Road Works and Street Works came into effect on 1 October 2013.  The scheme grants the Council additional powers for planning and managing street works on around 200 of the busiest roads in the city.  The scheme will apply to all works on these specified roads, including those works being carried out by the Council as well as utility companies.  It is anticipated that better planning and lead in times for works will reduce the duration of street works as well as affording greater collaboration incentives.  The remaining streets such as access roads and residential streets are not considered to be affected by street works in the same way so therefore, will continue to require notices to be served.  Effectively, Derby will run two parallel street works management regimes. The scheme brings about significant cost for utility companies and indeed the local authority in its capacity as work promoter.  Therefore the need to identify cost saving mechanisms is greater than ever before, but also an opportunity exists to use the permit process as an aid to concurrent engineering.


To investigate how significant cost savings in street works management may be achieved by re-engineering highway programme co-ordination using an appropriate process mapping tool.


The specific objectives of the project are:

  1. To identify the factors/issues in the street works management sector
  2. To explore street works management issues and current practices within the sector
  3. To explore street works management issues and current practices within a typical local authority area
  4. To evaluate the effectiveness of current practices in terms of meeting wider policy objectives within a typical local authority area
  5. To synthesise best practice within the highway operation sector with a view to developing  recommendations for improving the management of street works

Proposed Research Design and Methods

It is anticipated that the following methods will be used:

  1. A literature review will be undertaken to identify the issues around road works and highway programme management.
  2. To explore a range of process mapping/re-engineering processes such as Business Process Management (BPM), Lean, Total Place and Integrated Project Delivery to identify the most appropriate process mapping solution. Parallels will also be drawn from other sectors, such as the Construction Industry.
  3. A case study of Derby City Council will be developed to establish the development of an appropriate process mapping tool based on:
  • a review of documentation to analyse current statutory requirements and business processes and practices;
  • a study of street works in Derby before and after the Permit scheme
  • a business process model.

To understand the processes, further in depth interviews with those involved in operating highway (including highway managers, utility companies and process experts) will be undertaken. 

    4.   A validation exercise will be undertaken to appraise the new process – this will involve in depth interviews with those involved in operating highways including other local authorities, utility companies and process experts. No ethical issues are anticipated.  

Expected Benefits and Outcomes

Novelty – within the domain of highway engineering a collaborative business working process that incorporates local authorities and the utility sector does not currently exist. 

Innovation - a framework for a streamlined process mapping system will be developed to optimise resources for the co-ordination and delivery of highway schemes. 

Benefits - It is expected that the model would provide benefit to Derby; however it is aspired that it could be transferable to other local authority areas making potential savings across the country. 

Hussain, R.S. ...et al, 2017. Process mapping for road works planning and coordination, Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Vol 7, No. 2, pp 1-16.

Hussain, R.S. ... et al, 2016. Street works policy in England - insights from stakeholders. Infrastructure Asset Management, paper 1600002 https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/21152 

HUSSAIN, R.S. ... et al, 2015. Stakeholder perspectives of street works management in England. Urban Transport 2015: 21st International Conference on Urban Transport and the Environment, 2nd-4th June, Valencia, Spain https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/18164

HUSSAIN, R.S. ... et al, 2016. Evaluating the road works and street works management permit scheme in Derby, UK. 95th Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, 10th–14th January 2016, Washington DC https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/20072 

Hussain, R. S. ... et al, 2017. Improving the road works planning process – a case study of an English urban local authority, 96th Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, 8th–12th January, Washington DC




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Loughborough University
LE11 3TU

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