07 - 09 March 2023 | ExCeL, London

07 - 09 March 2023
ExCeL, London

Opinion piece

The Value Toolkit: Mapping out how to translate tip into transformative action

An opinion piece by Ellie Jenkins, Industry Project Lead for The Value Toolkit

Published late last year, the Transforming Infrastructure Performance (TIP) Roadmap to 2030 has societal outcomes at its core. It is an exciting step forward to see a government roadmap that puts outcomes at the centre of infrastructure decision making rather than the periphery. 

The TIP Roadmap to 2030 is action-orientated, and here I explore some of the core areas of focus and the role of the Value Toolkit in supporting the implementation of the Roadmap. 

Focus Area – Outcomes: The outcomes will vary, but the framework for defining outcomes must remain consistent.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), used in the Roadmap, provide clients with a high-level and easily recognisable framework for the societal and environmental outcomes government is seeking from infrastructure projects. 

The Roadmap speaks to a cascade of outcomes linked to the SDGs, from the organisational to more detailed and contextualised project-based outcomes. In developing the Value Toolkit, the Construction Innovation Hub and its partners have created a set of steps and activities supported by guidance to help clients make informed value-based decisions throughout the lifecycle of an asset to ensure the best outcomes from the investments 

The Value Toolkit adds depth and taxonomy to outcomes by taking a ‘four capitals’ (Human, Social, Environmental & Produced) approach. Clients set Value Profiles within the Value Toolkit process, which gives projects and programmes direction and structure on priority outcomes, while providing a flexible framework to shape project-level outcomes around the local context. 

The Value Toolkit’s capital approach aligns and maps to the UN Goals, so this one process enables transparent, integrated reporting that speaks to different stakeholders. 

Focus Area – Optimisation: Ask tricky questions and keep coming back to the outcomes.

Starting an investment conversation with, ‘do we really need to build anything new?’ is a bold approach and rarer than it should be. As identified in the Roadmap, ‘historically, it has been more straightforward to add new infrastructure to the built environment rather than trying to derive better outcomes from what we already have’. 

By setting the desired outcomes, metrics, and performance ranges, a client using the Value Toolkit can consistently compare design and delivery options to ensure the intervention drives the desired change. The value-based decision-making process set out in the Value Toolkit helps all parties keep a clear focus on desired performance and the intended impact of the end product. From the earliest stages of concept to the decommissioning of an asset, a client can drive the best outcomes for their investment.

Focus Area – Place-based regeneration: Have better conversations with context.

The Roadmap calls for ‘strategic outcomes rooted in an understanding of local context and enabled by data and decision-making structures that allow and support interventions that are joined up across departmental, national, regional, and local silos’. Joining the dots between national, regional, and local ambitions is complex, but there is guidance within the Value Toolkit to support:

1) Great place-making always begins with a conversation; stakeholder engagement is the first step within the Value Toolkit.

2) Use data more effectively to drive better, more informed conversations. Use past project outcomes to reflect on what could be achieved and lessons learnt. I’d encourage you to look at the Better Places Toolkit, currently under development by Stantec and the University of Reading, to link data into early stage decision making, in relation to social value.

3) Map the national, regional, and local policy; to understand shared objectives and the outcomes that will realise policy ambitions at multiple levels. 

4) Shape the outcomes for specific interventions using stakeholder engagement, policy drivers and past data to set the project up for success.

Focus Area Data: The power of data will underpin and unlock performance improvement. 

Our ability to hone data to inform, underpin and record decision making is essential and thematic throughout the Roadmap. 

To achieve this, the Roadmap calls for the development of ‘mechanisms to generate, record and store information on the design, construction and operation of infrastructure assets across public and private sectors and provide for effective shared access’. Defining the outcomes, we want to realise from specific investments is a great starting point, but measuring the performance against those expected outcomes will help to inform and improve future delivery. It is great to see the Government’s continued commitment to the value of data through the Roadmap’s Information Management Mandate (IMM).

The Value Toolkit is being developed in close partnership with the Hub’s Information Management and Platform Design Programme work streams to ensure information is managed in line with the IMM.

The role of government is undoubtedly critical to driving better outcomes, but we are each part of the system and have a role to play in delivering better outcomes, which is where the Value Toolkit can help. Following an overwhelmingly positive pilot, with the CBI stating that “across the [construction] industry, contractors, architects, consultants, and suppliers should be advocates for the Toolkit” we are currently optimising the tools and process. We look forward to the launch of the Value Toolkit later this year.

To register for more information on the Value Toolkit, sign up here.

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