Smart projects: Oxfordshire County Council has deployed a business intelligence application to fast track the delivery of the local transport plan it agreed with the Department for Transport.
The council's IT department has integrated the application with its head-office financial system so that progress towards the local transport plan can be measured in the council's key performance indicators.
All local authorities have to agree a development plan for the road network with the Department for Transport. Every maintenance and road building project included in the plan has to be completed by the end of the council's financial year in April.
Oxfordshire Council deployed the business intelligence application from supplier Primavera in a newly established agency, Oxfordshire Highways. The agency includes the road designers and construction company Isis, as well as Oxfordshire Council.
Glyn Handley, the council's project manager in environment and economy, said, "We got the Primavera E3 application to sort out the key aims of the agency, including standardising project delivery. We used the application to build up some templates for doing different types of construction schemes."
Oxfordshire Highways needed a system to standardise business processes because many of its construction projects are large and complex to manage. The largest project in the county in 2005 was made up of 170 different activities. The average project had about 100 activities.
Before the system was deployed, different business processes had been used for different projects because the engineers with day-to-day control of construction had set their own processes.
The second major benefit from using the business intelligence application was the ability to forward plan work throughout the year. In the rush to meet the deadline each April, the council said it had often overburdened its construction partner.
The third benefit from the application has been the ability to manage resources. Handley said, "We can manage the resources and assign the right people to the project. We can ensure that if we need to juggle resources, we have control over that resource pool."
The application has enabled the council to set baselines that establish timescales for all construction and maintenance projects. Oxfordshire Highways can only abandon its baseline commitments if a serious and unexpected problem occurs.
Handley said, "We are only allowed to move that baseline if a major problem comes up. For example, if the council was advised that a road crossed a piece of land that the council did not own."
The council's IT department provided the IT infrastructure that was needed for the new application. The system was commissioned by the council's highways department.