The product of a gap assessment will often take the form of an implementation plan for TAM improvements. These improvements can involve changing behaviors across many business units within an organization. The actions should, therefore, be prioritized and staged to advance one step at a time. When defining actions, it is important to understand the purpose and outcome to be achieved, who is responsible, how long it will take and how many resources are required for it to happen.
Note that a TAM Implementation Plan is different from a Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP) described further in Section 2.4. An implementation plan focuses on business process improvement, while a TAMP focuses on an organization’s assets and how it is investing in and managing them. However, the implementation plan may be included as a section of a larger TAMP.
The improvements identified need to recognize potential barriers to implementation. As an example, improving decision-making tools will likely require improvements in data practices. The implementation plan should consider any foreseeable obstacles, including staff resistance to new business procedures, lack of support from agency leadership, inadequate skills among staff, data integration issues or outdated analytical tools.
Communicating the Implementation Plan
Effective, organization-wide communication can serve as a powerful tool to facilitate smooth and swift adoption of the TAM implementation plan. At the start of implementation, communicating the future vision and benefits can help build awareness and buy-in. Throughout the duration of the implementation initiative, communication about milestones and accomplishments can help sustain or regain momentum. Additionally, as different projects are initiated, delivered and completed, agencies will want to ensure that the resulting changes in processes, systems and tools are adopted and used consistently to achieve the intended outcomes and objectives. As illustrated in Figure 2.10, the TAM communication strategy should cover six key elements – why, who, what, when, how and how well.
Objectives. Why communicate?
Establishing early buy-in to the implementation plan by providing an upfront explanation of why execution of the TAM implementation plan is needed—the anticipated benefits for the organization as well as for different stakeholder groups—will help jumpstart success of the implementation.
Stakeholders. Who delivers and receives the communication?
To make sure the right people are receiving the right information, it is key to develop and categorize a complete list of internal and external stakeholders who will be impacted by the TAM implementation plan and its resulting changes. In determining stakeholders, consider who needs to receive different types of information and who best to deliver that information to support achievement of implementation plan objectives.
Messages. What are the messages to communicate?
In developing the key messages to communicate, consider intent – what should stakeholders know, think or do as a result of the message? Key messages should promote awareness, desire and reinforcement of the implementation plan and its associated changes. They should also align with objectives of the implementation plan as well as organizational objectives.
Timing & Frequency. When will the communication occur?
Communication about the TAM implementation plan and corresponding changes should be timely, frequent enough to keep stakeholder groups well informed about approaching milestones and key dates of impact, and not so frequent that they lose value. Take into account what is being communicated and to whom, as different stakeholder groups receiving different types of messages often require different delivery frequency.
Tactics & Channels. How will information be communicated?
Depending on the duration of the TAM implementation plan and the number of associated changes, communication needs often shift over the course of its execution. Agencies should determine the most effective types of communication and delivery channels as they progress through change. By including stakeholder categories, messages and frequency as inputs when determining the most effective channels, the communications strategy remains agile, which facilitates continuous improvement.
Continuous Improvement. How well is the communications strategy working?
Assessing the effectiveness or performance of any strategy is important for achieving objectives. Including a stakeholder feedback loop into the communications strategy is one way to accomplish this. Agencies can use surveys, polls, focus groups or meetings to gather information and gauge opposition and support. This crucial feedback serves as guidance for subsequent content and can lead to changes in the communications strategy.