1.2 About This Guide

Guide Home / 1. Introduction

Section 1.2

About This Guide

This section orients the reader to the contents of the Guide and describes the framework used to organize the guidance.

Section 1.2

About This Guide

This section orients the reader to the contents of the Guide and describes the framework used to organize the guidance.


Scope and Organization

This Guide is organized around the TAM Guide Framework. This framework is tailored for use by U.S. transportation agencies and incorporates critical areas deemed important to the daily application and advancement of TAM practice.

TAM Guide Scope

The AASHTO TAM Guide Framework groups the components of asset management into six basic areas. The four central areas in the figure capture the business processes involved in asset management.

Figure 1.2 AASHTO TAM Guide Framework

Adapted from the Institute for Asset Management (IAM)

TAM Strategy & Planning

An organization manages its assets not as an end in and of itself, but to achieve broader goals. These goals might include improving mobility, enabling economic growth, and reducing costs to travelers and the environment. It is important to place TAM in the context of an agency’s broader goals and objectives, establish the scope of an agency’s TAM effort, and determine how TAM integrates with the other activities performed by the agency. A Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP) helps establish this context, and preparing such a document is consistent with best practices in TAM. Additionally, U.S. State transportation departments and transit agencies are now required to develop TAMPs to comply with Federal requirements.

Asset Performance

This encompasses the set of processes involved in determining how to manage an asset over its entire life, from construction or acquisition to maintenance and finally asset replacement or disposal. It addresses how to measure the level of service an asset is achieving and targets to achieve, how to best maintain an asset, and how to model the condition and performance of an asset in the future.

Resource Allocation

Managing assets requires determining how to best deploy a set of fi nite resources, including staff time, equipment, and budgets for operating and capital expenses. This area includes the processes involved in making resource allocation decisions, both for a given asset class, and across multiple asset classes considering a range of different objectives and constraints. Also, it addresses the development of financial plans summarizing expected sources and uses of asset management funds. TAM financial planning takes a long-term view of resource allocation to support the delivery of strategies that address asset needs at all stages of their service lives.

Monitoring and Adjustment

Ideally an organization’s approach to TAM and TAM-related decisions should be dynamic, with adjustments made in response to available data on asset conditions. This area includes processes related to measuring and monitoring asset performance, assessing risk, and making adjustments to investment decisions and business process to respond to changing conditions.

The remaining two areas detail factors that enable an improved asset management approach. The two enablers of an improved asset management approach are:

Information & Systems

TAM is very data intensive. It is important to have systems for tracking an organization’s inventory of assets and collecting needed data on asset conditions. Also, systems are often needed to connect to related data, including financial data and records of maintenance work. However, collecting asset data and implementing asset management systems can be costly and time consuming. It is important to develop an approach to information management that carefully considers what data are needed to support the organization’s goals, and how best to collect needed data.

Organization & People

All infrastructure-intensive organizations practice asset management in some manner. However, implementing a robust asset management approach incorporating best industry practices and a philosophy of continuous improvement requires having a robust organization and people with the correct mix of skills. Creating such an organization requires defining roles and responsibilities for TAM within an organization. Also, it is important to evaluate needed staff skills and to implement training programs to help existing staff improve their skillsets. Another important organizational factor is developing an approach for managing change within the organization to support a culture of continuous improvement.

The remainder of this guide further details the areas illustrated in the figure, with emphasis on those areas that are specific to TAM.

A basic feature of TAM is that it is interdisciplinary, and thus overlaps with a number of other areas, including but not limited to maintenance, project selection and budgeting, performance management, information technology, and risk. To the extent that other resources are available for addressing certain aspects of TAM, the text notes these overlaps and recommends other relevant resources.

The core elements illustrated in the TAM Guide Framework are further detailed in corresponding chapters of the Guide:

Chapter 1. TAM Basics discusses basic information of importance to any reader who is new to the concepts of transportation asset management.

Chapter 2. TAM Strategy & Planning discusses considerations in linking asset management to agency goals and objectives, and defining performance measures and targets for tracking progress.

Chapter 3. Asset Performance discusses developing life cycle plans that define how best to design, construct, operate, maintain and dispose of assets - and then executing those plans on a day-to-day basis.

Chapter 4. Resource Allocation details the process of making capital and maintenance investment decisions that provide the best long term performance given available resources, considering trade-offs and competing needs between different assets and investment objectives.

Chapter 5. Monitoring & Adjustment addresses topics including tracking asset health, responding to unplanned events, and managing risks to the asset inventory.

Chapter 6. Information & Systems addresses collecting needed asset data, and implementing management systems to support data collection and decision-making.

Chapter 7. Organization & People describes how to build an organizational structure that supports asset management, and develop processes for change management and training to build an awareness of asset management throughout the organization.


Intended Audiences

The Guide is an important tool that should be actively used as a reference by the transportation community. The principles and implementation techniques described here are universally applicable to all agencies managing transportation assets. While the target audience is primarily State Departments of Transportation (DOTs), local agencies managing metropolitan, county, or mixed transportation networks will also find it useful and appropriate to their needs.

Who Should Use this Guide?

The Guide is structured so that the reader can use a particular chapter, section, or topic as a source of advice; or use the whole in order to drive a systematic agency-wide implementation of asset management.

For those new to asset management who want to learn more. This Guide is a great starting point for DOT staff new to the field of asset management. Recent college graduates and new DOT employees hired in asset management roles, as well as DOT staff who have transferred to an asset management role from elsewhere in the agency will benefit from the overview of asset management provided in this Guide.

For practitioners. This Guide can help advance asset management practice at an agency. The framework is designed to provide information on all different aspects of asset management, so practitioners can easily access information specific to the challenges they are currently facing. Practitioners can also learn about how peer agencies approach different aspects of asset management through the numerous practice examples throughout the Guide.

For executives. This Guide is intended to raise awareness among senior executives about the wider role TAM plays within the agency and how it can be implemented to improve organizational performance and achieve better outcomes in terms of cost and service to the public. Agency-wide TAM implementation needs to be led by top management using the principles of effective leadership. TAM is an organizational culture and professional discipline that should not be switched on and off with the regular election cycle – it needs continuity and support even as leadership within the organization changes. Implementation needs to transcend administration.


Ways to Use this Guide

The Guide provides an overview of TAM topics and also includes practice examples, how-to guides, checklists, and references.

Basic Overview of TAM

A general overview of TAM is provided in Section 1.1. This is a great place for people who are new to asset management to learn the basic fundamentals and benefits of TAM before getting into the details in the remaining chapters.

Topical Guidance

Each chapter of Guide provides topical guidance for the practitioners looking to advance a particular aspect of TAM within their agency. While there are certainly cross-cutting topics in TAM that are mentioned in more than one chapter, each chapter is meant to be a stand-alone topic that a practitioner will find useful without having to read the entire Guide.

How-To Guides and Checklists

Each chapter of the Guide features How-To Guides and Checklists. How-to Guides provide step-by-step guidance on achieving a specific aspect of TAM. Checklists address items that should be place to advance TAM practice in a specific way within an agency.

Maturity Scale

Each chapter concludes with a summary of the typical level of practice of a generic Department of Transportation for three levels of maturity: emerging, strengthening, and advanced. The maturity examples are meant to provide some context for the concepts discussed within the chapter, and the degree to which an agency adopts them in how they conduct service delivery.

Emerging. The agency is beginning to improve their asset management practices and is emerging to a new way of conducting service delivery. The agency has initiated early steps to advance practices and has a plan for future improvements.

Strengthening. The agency has established many aspects of a functioning asset management system, achieved several important improvements in how it embeds asset management leading practice into the agency, and continues to strengthen its practices to achieve future goals.

Advanced. The agency is a role model among its peer agencies and has fully implemented asset management practices across the organization. TAM has become how the agency does business, with a commitment to continuous improvement over time. The agency is advanced relative to most of its peers.


Where applicable, helpful tips are included in each chapter. These short and practical items help reinforce the concepts discussed in the chapter. They can also indicate key points to remember when applying the guidance


At the end of each individual section of the Guide references are provided for more details on specific topics. Practitioners who want to learn more are encouraged to access these references and take advantage of the various resources that are currently available.


Important Tools & Resources

The TAM Gap Analysis Tool is a versatile resource for agencies engaged in Transportation Asset Management (TAM), facilitating systematic self-assessment to identify strengths and weaknesses. Operating at multiple levels, it allows benchmarking against industry standards, pinpointing gaps, and offering flexible result presentations. The tool not only identifies areas for improvement but also provides actionable strategies, making it a valuable asset for agencies seeking to enhance their TAM practices and align with industry benchmarks.

Introducing the TAM Gap Analysis Tool

The TAM Gap Analysis Tool serves as a powerful self-assessment resource for agencies engaged in Transportation Asset Management (TAM). Its primary purpose is to enable agencies to systematically evaluate their TAM practices, offering insights into both strengths and weaknesses. The tool is designed to facilitate this assessment process by allowing agencies to benchmark their practices against established industry standards, identify gaps between current and desired practices, prioritize improvement initiatives, and monitor the evolution of TAM maturity over time. It operates at three distinct levels: Assessment Areas (encompassing topics like Policy goals, Asset Management), Assessment Elements (subcategories within each area), and Assessment Criteria (standards for evaluating practices). The document outlines the specific number of elements and criteria within each of the eight assessment areas, providing a comprehensive framework for evaluation.

A key feature highlighted in the tool is its flexibility, allowing agencies to customize assessments based on participant relevance. The assessment itself is conducted through a user-friendly web-based interface, prompting participants to rate current practices and set desired ratings on a 5-point scale. Results are then compiled into various visual formats such as graphs, spider diagrams, and tables. This provides flexibility for result presentation, offering options at different levels—agency, assessment area, element, or criteria—to cater to diverse reporting needs.

The tool not only assists in identifying gaps but also provides practical guidance on using results to enhance practices. It offers a checklist of strategies tailored to each assessment area, suggesting actionable steps to address identified gaps. Strategies range from aligning agency goals with performance data and developing asset management plans to enhancing communication and outreach and addressing workforce capacity and development. In essence, the TAM Gap Analysis Tool is a versatile resource, empowering agencies to enhance their TAM practices, align with industry benchmarks, and continually improve their capabilities in transportation asset management.