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Case Study: Highways Agency

Introduction

Management of road networks in England is a mandatory observation. The reason is that due to the economic growth and without good roads, a country cannot develop in the right economic direction. In England, Highways Agency is an organization with the sole responsibility of managing roads networks and ensuring that they are in the corresponding condition. However, from the presented case study known as ‘Business Improvement Strategies in the Highways Agency,’ it is clear that this firm, like all publics sector organizations, face several challenges in their day-to-day operations. For example, while designing and implementing business improvement strategies, the organizations deal with a number of issues before establishing these strategies in the long run.

Main Issues Public Sector Organizations Face in Designing and Implementing Business Improvement Strategies

Public sector organizations work for the people. Highway Agency is one of them and it faces a loft of difficulties while establishing the strategies. First, there is the challenge of cost management and efficiency of the suggested reforms (Bryson, 2011). One of the reasons that explain this scenario is that the private sector economy has achieved financial efficiency and, as a result, increased their processing capacity through implementation of the best practices. Therefore, the strategies that public sector organizations design and implement are expected to have the same results as those of the private sector. Governance and accountability are other challenges that the public sector organizations face when designing and implementing business improvement strategies (Bryson, 2011). To start with, most of the funds that are utilized by the public sector organizations come from the general population. As a result, this population demands that the entire budget that a private sector organization spends needs to be accounted for. Such organizations fear to spend without justifying and. finally, this is realized to be more a challenge than a motivation.

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Since the goal of the public sector organizations is to serve the public, the citizenship engagement to ensure that they assist most of the organizations’ activities is mandatory (Bryson, 2011). As a result, there is need for the organizations to improve their performances by improving their business strategies. However, all these strategies should abide by the needs of the people, and they demand that they should be included in the step-by-step activities. There is also a need for the public sector to make a fundamental shift of its strategies and operations (Bryson, 2011). For example, it is common for public sector organizations to follow the policy of the private sector firms, namely their way to undertake the business improvement strategies. However, the main challenge is that unlike private sector, the public sector has limited funds to improve their business strategies that support innovation, efficiency, effectiveness, and priorities (Bryson, 2011). The challenge posed means that the public sector organizations, such as  Highways Agency, are expected to use the minimal funds available to them to compete with the private sector organizations in terms of business and operations efficiency and effectiveness.

Evaluation and Criticism of Improvement Frameworks

The BQSR framework used by Highways Agency and demonstrated in figure 8.1 of the case study is a good framework for  business improvement strategies. The reason is that in the presentation of the framework, a detailed analysis of the way in which the criteria will be used to introduce an improvement strategy has been presented. For example, from the identification of the service strategy process, a self-assessment is conducted and then plan for improvement has followed the implementation of the plan. While designing business improvement strategies, there are a number of steps that are necessary, and they include the details of the program, the schedule, and the resources (Reijers & Liman Mansar, 2005). As a result, the framework presented in figure 8.1 is a perfect example of a business improvement strategy. However, an inclusion of the resources to complete the tasks should have been included to make it more appealing.

In figure 8.2 of the case study, Highways Agency has applied the use of a Directorate Improvement Framework to enhance its business efficiency. Judging from the framework, the framework is a good explanation of a well-designed improvement plan. For example, the main aim of the framework which is to maintain the efficiency of the quality control department in the organization to correspond to the description of ISO has been shown. Additionally, all the steps included in the framework have been listed and clearly explained to make understanding of the plan easier. A good business improvement plan must include all the details of the implementation process because the implementation team is clearly aware of what they are expected to do ((Reijers & Liman Mansar, 2005). As a result, the Directorate Improvement Plan is appropriate and does not need correction to work in the corresponding direction.

In figure 8.3 of the case study, there is a representation of an example of a directorate process hierarchy that seeks to improve business efficiency through designing and implantation of the improvement strategies. In the example framework, six steps have been highlighted and the steps are used to complete a directorate process. However, the best part the example plan is the breakdown of the details of every step of the hierarchy. For example, in the procurement stage, fives sub-steps are included to give a detailed overview of the efficient step implementation. When designing a good business improvement plan, there is a need to observe the details of the program, participants, resources necessary to complete the program, process and its implementation ((Reijers & Liman Mansar, 2005). The hierarchy example has observed most of these factors, and it can be argued from a personal point of view that it is a good hierarchy process. However, the hierarchy example can be improved if its designers choose to include more details than it currently holds.

Difficulties Faced by Organizations in the Construction Industry

The construction industry has both private and public organizations involved. However, as a particular sector of the economy, there are specific difficulties that the organizations, such as Highways Agency, face. For example, the construction sector is being challenged by the increased costs that the organizations in the industry incur before completing their projects (Dubois & Gadde, 2002). The reason is that for a construction job to be completed, incurring high financial spending is inevitable. Among the costs that the organizations in the construction industry face include the wages that they have to pay to their workers, the cost of materials and supplies needed to complete a certain construction project, the high expenses for capital equipment and time delay among other costs (Dubois & Gadde, 2002). As a result, the organizations face problems while dealing with the costs, and, at the same time, keeping their work standards high and delivering as expected.

Another difficulty that these organizations face is the kind of quality control checks that they have to undergo before the completion of a construction project (Dubois & Gadde, 2002). For example, the organizations are subjected to design criteria quality checks, inspection checks, supervision checks, financial muscle checks, skilled workers availability and use as well as the supervision (Dubois & Gadde, 2002). Finally, the quality control that is done on the organizations is extensive and this seems to delay the project completion time specified by the organizations. Environmental difficulties are also essential to the form one of the greatest difficulties (Dubois & Gadde, 2002). Construction works are conducted in outdoor environments. However, as these projects require time for their completion, the maintenance and building of highway networks is challenged by the environmental factors such as erosion and sedimentation, toxic wastes, asbestos, and wetlands (Dubois & Gadde, 2002). As a result, the organizations are forced at times to re-do the work that they have done before and in the process, it becomes a threatening challenge to their work.

Recommendations

Construction organizations like Highway Agency are big organizations that should take challenges as opportunities for improvement. The reason is that the challenges form the part of the life of an organization and if it encounters them properly, such an organization rises to become a standout organization. The cooperation of Highway more with citizens in England can have positive results and reduce the costs that they incur hiring surveyors to work on the highways. The reason is that people offer their opinions and analyses of the state of the highways and ways where maintenance and constructions are needed. As a result, the working relationship between the organization and the people is enhanced and better business improvement strategies will be developed during the implementation process.

Conclusion

Despite the hefty workload that construction organizations in the public sector incur, the industry is one of the most well paid in any economy. Thus, construction organizations in the public sector need to improve their use of the available resources but, at the same time, ensure quality of their operations and activities. However, the effort of the organizations such as Highways Agency is vital for realization and appreciation of the projects. Lastly, business improvement strategies should be the driving force of all public sector organizations and should be used at their soonest.

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