Prioritizing TAM Improvements
Deciding on the appropriate management approach and level of asset management is a strategic decision that should consider several factors:
Organizational Strategic Goals
The decision of which assets to prioritize should be driven by the organization’s strategic goals. A desire to focus on one aspect of the transportation system over another in order to meet a larger objective can present a good reason for prioritizing some assets over others.
A common consideration for selecting assets to include is the financial value. Monetizing value provides a consistent way of comparing asset classes. In general, assets that are the most expensive to replace or cause the greatest financial concern for an organization fall into the highest priority. Strategic management of these assets means strategic investments over the life cycle of the asset, which will prevent or delay the need for significant additional investment, help avoid premature failure, and allow time to plan for appropriate replacement.
TAM as a concept is heavily dependent on data. Deciding on which assets to focus on based on existing data collection and management practices and will often support achievement of “quick wins.” Data availability does not always indicate strategic priority or risk exposure of the asset, but can still be an important factor in selecting assets to include the cost of collecting and analyzing data to form the basis for more advanced TAM decision making can in some instances be significant, and require new skills and training.
It should be recognized that data does not need to be comprehensive and complete as a basis for TAM decision making. An accepted approach is to group assets into classes (age, type, function) and then inspect a sample set. This can provide important insights to guide long-term planning at minimal initial expense/time. It can also highlight any issues with particular types of assets and allow for more detailed inspections to be undertaken if required. A gap analysis to define future data requirements and determine how to collect this data should be considered for long term TAM outcomes.
Risk of Failure
Often, it can be necessary to consider including assets if the probability and consequence of failure is significant. Assets with a high risk of failure can be a high priority due to the potential losses to the agency and its stakeholders should they fail. Asset management can alleviate or prevent the impact of failure.
Asset Criticality and Network Reliability
Decisions to formally manage certain assets can be based on their importance to the service provided, such as operations, or the importance of the travel paths under consideration. Defining criticality is context specific, but is important, since user experience is based on the journey, not the specific assets. Considering criticality in selecting assets to include in TAM will ensure that the most important assets–those necessary to maintain network reliability–are managed first.
In general, the scope of TAM should be agreed to in coordination with leadership and influenced by stakeholders. Stakeholders can be any asset owners, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), cities, tolling authorities, P3 concessions, federal (mandated requirements), and others. The public can also be stakeholders who influence which assets to include, especially when high-profile incidents potentially attributed to the state of good repair occur.