Management of Research

TII is committed to setting up and maintaining a research and development budget, which will be used to fund an on-going Research Programme.

The TII Research Programme is formulated on an annual basis and will provide for short-term business oriented projects in response to specific needs as well as longer-term fundamental research. The programme will cover all aspects of TII’s interests. The research budget will be managed by the TII Research Manager with technical advice and management provided by experts from within TII.

Policy Themes

TIIs Statement of Strategy has been used to develop a number of broad “policy themes” for the development of a research strategy to assist TII in achieving its strategic goals. These themes focus on the requirements to strive for better efficiency, sustainability and safety across all spheres of activity of TII and relate to materials, standards and procedures within the context of road construction, maintenance and operation. The policy themes are:

  • Materials: Development of new construction materials; more efficient use of existing materials; conservation of scarce or natural materials; use of recycled materials, durability, repair and maintenance.
  • Standards and specifications: Maintain up-to-date standards; develop new standards and specifications based on new developments; encourage innovation.
  • Environment/Sustainable construction: Consideration of environmental issues; effects of climate change; ways of reducing energy consumption; conservation of natural resources; alternative energy sources; “green” solutions; consideration of energy consumption in the wider sense such as junction layout, etc; understanding the effects of vehicle technologies and alternative fuels; improved durability of roads and bridges; development of better monitoring and inspections methods and procedures as part of a sustainable asset management system.
  • Safety: Contribution of infrastructure to casualties and fatalities; improved safety of road users; improved skid resistance; interaction between road; vehicle and driver; understanding driver behaviour; improved structural safety; development of passive safety; risks associated with traffic induced noise and air pollution; incident management.
  • Value for money: Improved global competitiveness; procurement methods; risk identification and allocation; more effective asset management procedures; making better use of existing infrastructure; targeted maintenance regimes; improved traffic modelling and planning.
  • Transportation and land use: Traffic growth predictions; Land take-up at grade separated junctions; influencing driver behaviour; development of traffic models; intelligent transport systems; integrated transport systems; inter-modal studies.
  • Heritage: Consider impact of roads on society; methods for archaeological investigations; other social issues.

These policy themes provide a framework within which TII’s research activities are carried out. They provide the basis for the development of the Annual Research Programme, the primary aim of which is to provide assistance to TII staff in providing and operating the national road system in a more efficient and effective way.

Communication

A communication system has been developed within TII to facilitate the exchange of information relating to research activities. The purpose is to collect research needs and ideas, evaluate proposals, prioritise the projects, provide effective technical management, and disseminate results of the Research Programme.

The research network has been devised to maintain both a top-down and bottom-up approach. With the top-down approach, potential projects will be developed from the high-level strategic goals of TII. Using the bottom-up approach, technical specialists within TII identify research projects to solve particular problems or assist in carrying out processes in a more effective way. In both cases, the high-level goals will underpin and justify the research activities.

Communication of the research activities will be co-ordinated by the Research Manager with assistance from the Research Mentors in the different technical areas. Use of the TII intranet is made to facilitate the flow of information across TII.

Communication is necessary in order to inform all stakeholders (member of the public, universities, institutes, consultants, contractors, other interested bodies) of TII's Research Strategy and the evidence and reasoning that underpin this strategy. It is intended to develop an external network so that these research activities can be disseminated widely. Use of TII website will be made to publicise the Research Programme and to make the research results available. Promotion of the research outputs will also be maintained though journal publications, presentations at seminars and conferences.

Internal Organisation

TII’s Research Programme is the direct responsibility of the TII Research Manager who manages the Research Programme on a day-to-day basis. The Research Manager is supported on a part-time basis by specialist staff operating in the various areas of activity within TII who provide technical advice and management.

Research Manager

This is a full-time position dedicated to managing the Research Programme. The role of the Research Manager includes:
 
  • Develop the Research Strategy for TII
  • Identify and prioritise topics for inclusion in Annual Research Programme (with TII Specialists and stakeholders)
  • Manage the performance and delivery of research projects with technical advice from TII Specialists
  • Develop relationship with key stakeholders
  • Develop relationship with research providers (universities, consultants, etc)
  • Communicate research activities to the TII Board and across TII and external key stakeholders
  • Maintain contact with EU and national research initiatives
  • Participate in international organisations such as FEHRL and CEDR.

Research Mentors

It is essential, for a Research Programme to be properly embedded into TII's core activities and for the results of a programme of research and technical consultancy to be effectively disseminated into codes, standards and practices, that there be clear linkage between the Research Programme and those personnel responsible for standards and particular areas of specialisation within TII. Failure to adequately integrate a programme of TII sponsored research and technical consultancy into the different elements of TII's core activities would significantly diminish the benefits of such a programme.

In order to achieve the necessary linkage between research and core activities, an internal network of specialist Research Mentors has been set up. The primary functions of the Research Mentors include:

  • Maintain familiarity with worldwide trends in research in their area of specialisation,
  • Maintain awareness of recent research publications in published journals, at conferences etc,
  • Identify research priorities within their area of responsibility
  • Collaborate with the Research Manager in respect of research and consultancy projects, including review and commentary on draft reports and assessment of service provider performance
  • Ensure the implementation and effective dissemination of research results through TII’s standards and publications.

This list covers most of the key areas of current interest to TII. It will however be supplemented to meet demands, and external Mentors may be added if appropriate, e.g. behavioural sciences.

Performance Indicators

It is difficult to gauge the quality of research as it is often many years before the results are implemented through standards and the benefits are finally realised. High quality research can only be guaranteed if a high calibre research team is employed. In the selection process, emphasis will be placed on the track record of the research team and the relevance of the research outputs to TII’s goals. Value for money will be ensured by competition and transparency in the evaluation and selection process.

Management of each individual project is the responsibility of the Research Manager and the Project Mentor. Progress of the Research Programme is monitored by the Audit Committee of the TII Board. Performance is measured by reporting the following:

  • Number of projects commissioned
  • Number of projects delivered
  • Number of reports and papers published
  • Quality of research and research outputs
  • Implementation of research outputs.

Procurement

TII will seek expressions of interest for research projects under the broad policy themes described in the Policy Themes Section. Within each subject area there may be a number of individual research projects with particular objectives, specified deliverables and timescale. The projects may be procured as individual commissions or grouped into a package: the grouping of research topics may afford TII the opportunity to best target the available expertise in each of the specialist subject areas.

Procurement will generally be through the normal TII procurement procedures. Preferred suppliers of research services will be selected on the basis of an open competition which will be advertised on the TII website, in national and international journals and in the European Journal, as appropriate. Competition between potential suppliers, based on both quality and cost of the proposals will ensure best value for money.

In some cases it may be appropriate to use a different procurement process. Examples are:
  • If the project is a continuation of previous work and continuity of personnel is necessary, it may be appropriate to commission a particular institute or individual to carry out the work
  • Collaboration projects, where TIIis a co-funder or where TII is providing “top-up” funds to an existing project.
In these cases approval for the proposed procurement method will be sought from the Chief Executive.

Research Management

The management of the research commissioned by TII is guided by the following principles:
  • Well-organised targeted annual Research Programme with a clear statement of expected outputs and benefits.
  • Identification and selection process to ensure that the research projects are aligned to TII’s strastegic objectives.
  • Individual project prioritised on the basis of current needs and available funds.
  • Research will generally be procured on a competitive basis to ensure transparency and value for money.
  • Research will focus on solutions to short-term goals driven by current business needs but will not neglect fundamental research aimed at longer-term benefits.
  • Individual research projects will incorporate a dissemination plan to ensure that the conclusions and outputs are relevant to TII and are implemented in an effective and timely fashion.

A Value Management process will be adopted in formulating the annual Research Programme. This is a style of management dedicated to motivating people, developing skills and promoting synergies and innovation with the aim of maximising overall performance. The first stage of the process is to identify general research themes and topics by TII staff with input and advice from external stakeholders where appropriate. The themes and topics will then be evaluated against the policy themes and strategic objectives of TII as outlined in this document. On the basis of this evaluation, topics will be selected for possible inclusion in the Programme. A project brief will be prepared for the selected topics, giving the background to the problem being investigated, outline the objectives of the project, and describe what TII expects to gain from the project. This will help to focus the project on the high-level strategic goals of TIIand assist in determining how and with whom the research can be commissioned. The topics will then be prioritised and ranked on the basis of the current needs and the funds available. The higher-ranked projects will be selected and approval sought for including them in the annual Research Programme.

The topics will be categorised to determine whether it is appropriate to carry out the research through a PhD/post-doctoral programme or whether it would be more appropriate to commission the research through a more commercial mechanism. This decision will be based on a number of factors including the need for academic input, degree of innovation, when the output is required, etc. If appropriate, the research will be procured through the TII Research Fellowship Programme (see Section 5).

Short-term projects, where the work is expected to be completed within a number of weeks or months, will be commissioned by inviting tenders from universities, commercial research organisations and consultancies as appropriate. Such projects are expected to be completed within two years. Longer-term project are more likely to be commissioned thought the TII Research Fellowship Programme. Major projects will be tendered though the European Journal in line with European regulations. The tender invitation will include the format and content of the submission. In all cases, a fully costed proposal with a schedule of deliverables will be requested.

Proposals will be reviewed according to defined evaluation criteria, which will be included in the project brief. The evaluation will be carried out by the Research Manager and Project Mentor. External review may also be carried out at the discretion of TII. A preliminary Research Programme will be devised prior to each financial year in order to define budgets and timescales for new and ongoing projects. The Fellowship projects will generally be commissioned to start in October each year (the start of the academic year). Other project may come on-line at various times in the year depending on particular requirements and priorities.