4.3 How to Prioritize Ancillary Assets for Inclusion in Your Asset Management Program


How to Prioritize Ancillary Assets for Inclusion in Your Asset Management Program

Transportation agencies own and operate a multitude of infrastructure assets. Prior to implementing a formal asset management program, assets other than pavements and bridges, or ancillary assets, are often managed reactively. This means actions are only taken when assets are damaged, fail (maintenance), or when they reach the end of their service lives (replacement). Agencies often have little or no inventory or condition data for these assets and have no means of evaluating the impacts of different management approaches or investment strategies. When looking to incorporate these assets into an asset management program, the cost of collecting all the data, and developing the analysis methods can be beyond the agency’s means, particularly in the short term. The FHWA Handbook for Including Ancillary Assets in Transportation Asset Management Programs, provides a framework to support agencies in this effort through the three primary activities:

  • Asset Prioritization through a strategic review of risk, value, and criticality.
  • Data Needs Assessment to define needed and desired data and identify opportunities to bundle data collection to reduce cost.
  • Data Management to ensure data is available to users in the right format and at the right time.

  1. Asset Prioritization

    Asset prioritization involves a seven-step process that results in assets being grouped into tiers. This approach recognizes that agencies will typically expand their asset management programs in waves or initiatives that involve multiple assets at a time.

    1. Get Organized

    • Identify a champion to provide direction.

    • Identify a project manager to push for progress.

    • Assemble a project team that represents all relevant business areas.

    • Incorporate input from stakeholders.

    2. Select Criteria
    • Criteria used to objectively rate assets.

    • Reflect factors important to the agency, e.g.:

      • Value.

      • Cost of failure.

      • Impact of failure on safety or system performance.

      • Cost or effort to collect data.

      • Agency readiness to use the data.

    3. Establish a Rating System
    • Objective scales are preferred, e.g. 1-5 or 1-10.

    • Yes/no criteria can be used to augment ratings.

    • Subjective ratings may best be used in step 7.

    4. Establish Relative Weights
    • Some criteria may be more important than others.

    • Weighting is only appropriate for criteria on a common scale.

    • Additional guidance can be found in NCHRP Report 806, Guide to Cross-Asset Resource Allocation and the Impact on Transportation System Performance.

    5. Set Rating Values
    • Include all team members in the process.

    • Workshop initial ratings to develop a consensus for each asset and each criterion.

    6. Calculate Scores
    • Final Score = (Rating 1) x (Weight 1) +… + (Rating n) x (Weight n)

    7. Develop Priority Tiers
    • Rating scores are just one input.

    • Opportunity to consider subjective ratings.

    • Can be revised once more information is known on data collection costs and methods.

    Source: FHWA. 2017. Handbook for Including Ancillary Assets in Transportation Asset Management Programs. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/infrastructure/19068/19068.pdf

  2. Data Needs Assessment

    Agencies should understand the data required to make investment decisions for an asset class before data collection begins. This will help minimize data collection costs while supporting important business processes.

    • Data elements: Data needs are largely dependent on the life-cycle approach adopted for the asset class. Assets managed reactively may only require inventory data, while assets managed by condition may require robust condition data assessed through multiple measures.
    • Data quality: Agencies should also consider the quality of data needed to support decision making. It is important to involve stakeholders from all stages of the asset lifecycle, e.g., planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operations, to understand the breath of data needs. For example, location data to support planning efforts, may not need to be as precise as location data needed to support operations.
    • Collection methods: Data collection techniques continue to evolve and improve quality while reducing cost. However, not all techniques are appropriate for all asset classes. Understanding the available options for each class will allow for opportunities to bundle data collection efforts. Collecting data for multiple asset classes in a single effort can reduce costs and may impact the priority tiers developed in the prior activity.

  3. Data Management

    Understanding how data will be managed and shared will help inform the prior two activities. Additional information on data management can be found in chapter 7 of this Guide.