3.1 Establishing TAM Roles, Responsibilities, and Competencies

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Section 3.1

Establishing TAM Roles, Responsibilities, and Competencies

Identifying a “home” for asset management within the organization is also an important decision agencies need to make. Defining the roles and responsibilities required for asset management is an important step in ensuring a TAM program’s success. Regardless of what organizational model is used to fit asset management within an agency, there are key competencies that should be established as well.


Section 3.1

Establishing TAM Roles, Responsibilities, and Competencies

Identifying a “home” for asset management within the organization is also an important decision agencies need to make. Defining the roles and responsibilities required for asset management is an important step in ensuring a TAM program’s success. Regardless of what organizational model is used to fit asset management within an agency, there are key competencies that should be established as well.


3.1.1

Organizational Models


TAM organizational models help determine where to locate key TAM roles, the relationship between TAM and agency priorities, and how TAM is implemented throughout the agency. There is no one right way to locate and organize asset management within an agency. TAM is cross-cutting by nature and requires coordinated actions across planning, programming, scoping, design, construction, maintenance and operations functions.


Identifying a Home for Asset Management

There are many choices to consider when identifying a "home" for asset management. Asset management committees can be used to achieve coordination across units, regardless of where the TAM home is located, in order to enhance the asset management culture across the organization. Some agencies choose to focus TAM activities within a single business unit and use committees and other management structures to achieve the needed coordination. Others appoint a TAM lead individual to play a coordination role with staff support and resources drawn from multiple units across the agency.

As agencies gain experience with TAM, the organizational model may evolve. At early stages of maturity, an agency may not have any organizational unit or function that is performing TAM activities. In developmental stages of TAM, an agency may create a TAM unit to signal its importance, formalize processes and integrate TAM business practices across the organization. Eventually, as TAM practice is well-established, there may no longer be a need for a TAM unit, because TAM becomes the way the agency does business. Many international agencies with mature TAM practices do not have a TAM unit.

Creating a TAM Unit

An agency can conduct an assessment of where TAM-related functions currently are by making a list of TAM roles and where they exist in the agency. This will determine if there are gaps in needed roles. It will then be necessary to decide whether TAM roles should be added to existing business units, or if it is best to have a TAM unit that performs the roles and responsibilities.

If an agency decides to create a TAM unit, the roles and responsibilities that the unit performs can initially be based on the gap assessment. A beneficial aspect of a TAM unit is that it can focus on specific activities, such as the development and implementation of a federally-compliant TAMP.

Executive Office

Placing a TAM leader or TAM unit in the executive office signals the importance of TAM to the agency and provides a close connection to agency leadership. However, the executive office typically has less direct access to technical staff support than planning or engineering units. Connections to individuals with delivery-oriented responsibilities are also less direct than they would be in an engineering or maintenance office. If the TAM unit is not in the executive office, it’s important that there is an executive involved with the TAM program to both understand how TAM is benefiting the agency and to communicate the importance of TAM to the rest of the agency.

Planning Office

Locating a TAM leader or TAM unit within a planning office establishes a tight connection to long-range planning and, in some agencies, project programming. This fosters a long-term view of asset investments and an integrated approach to meet preservation, safety, mobility and other objectives. However, in many agencies, the planning function is not closely connected to project selection, and may have less engineering expertise. In these agencies, planning has less influence over asset preservation investment decisions.

Engineering Office

Creating a TAM leadership position or TAM unit within an engineering office puts it in proximity to capital design and construction (program delivery) activities. This will tend to give TAM more influence at the agency, as well as access to technical staff resources. Typically, the engineering office takes care of models for asset condition (i.e. pavement and bridge management units), and optimizing asset treatment decision making. However, because of the project delivery focus, there is less connection to long-term planning, systemwide performance, or routine maintenance.

Maintenance and Operations Office

Designating a TAM leader or TAM unit within a maintenance and operations office provides a strong connection to what is happening “on the ground” with respect to asset performance. It also provides an opportunity to emphasize proactive preser¬vation activities to cost-effectively extend the useful life of assets. However, maintenance is rarely involved in long-term planning or capital programming, so the TAM unit may have less influence on overall funding.

The practice examples below illustrate states that have TAM units in the four different agency locations. There is no one right way to locate the lead TAM unit. Figure 3.1, Locating TAM within the Agency, shows where the lead TAM unit is located in 2019 across the US states. The most commonly used location is the planning function.


TAM involves many integrative functions that require collaboration across business units. This map shows the results of an informal survey of the location of the TAM lead within each state department of transportation.

Figure 3.1 Locating TAM within the Agency: An Informal Nationwide Survey

Nationwide Survey Placeholder
Nationwide Survey

Caltrans

In 2015, the Caltrans Director created a TAM lead in the agency, recognizing the importance of TAM and the necessity of having a TAM lead who is responsible for implementing TAM and meeting federal and state TAM-related requirements. The TAM lead reports directly to the Caltrans Chief Deputy Director. The TAM lead started without any staff, but the unit has grown to house over ten people. The TAM lead is a veteran of the department and is able to advance the TAM program by getting leadership commitment at the executive level and having the business units throughout the department contribute to needed activities.

Executive Office Model

At Caltrans, the TAM group is in the executive office because of a desire to elevate the importance of asset management. The TAM group has more than 10 people in it who manage the TAMP development, and are also responsible for resource allocation for the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP). The SHOPP is a ~$4B annual program for major projects on the California State Highway System (SHS).

Planning Office Model

At Michigan DOT, the asset management function is distributed across the agency, but the TAM lead is in the planning bureau. Locating the TAM lead within planning provides a strong link to strategic investment planning and decision-making.

Engineering Office Models

The Connecticut DOT TAM unit resides in the Bureau of Engineering and Construction and reports directly to the Office of the Chief Engineer. The TAM Unit works with asset stewards, designated for each asset, to coordinate TAM activities across the Department.

Maintenance and Operations Office Model

At the Nevada DOT, the Maintenance and Asset Management Division leads the development of the agency’s Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP). The division supports district activities to ensure that the state-maintained highway system is maintained in a condition consistent with the Nevada DOT TAMP, work plans, policies, program objectives, budget, and available resources. It also supports a proactive preservation focus in maintenance that extends to the 10-year investment strategies outlined in the TAMP.

Aligning the TAM Organizational Model with Agency Priorities

The choice of a TAM organization model should align with and support agency policies and priorities. Agencies that have priorities focused on activities that are located in the planning unit (such as economic development, increasing funding, or sustainability) may choose to house TAM in planning. A greater focus on safety and rebuilding infrastructure may lead to locating TAM in engineering. Agencies that prioritize preservation and operations may choose maintenance and operations for the TAM location. Figure 3.2 Organizational Models describes how the home for TAM would work in different parts of the agency.

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TAM is not effective unless it is integrated with existing processes. Established agency roles in planning, programming, and delivery can support this integration.

Figure 3.2 TAM Organizational Models

Considerations in making the choice on the home for TAM.

TAM organizational models are shown with benefits and challenges indicated for each.

TIP
The location of TAM in your agency can evolve over time based on your needs and agency priorities.

Integrating All Planning

The TAM unit at the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is located in the multimodal planning division. TAM is a key part of MnDOT’s integrated planning process, which utilizes a framework defined with explicit coordination across plans and programs.
MnDOT TAMP and related plans

Source: MNDOT TAMP 2019

Centralized vs. Decentralized Models

A second important choice in creating a TAM organizational model is deciding on the degree to which asset management responsibilities are centralized versus dispersed across the agency.

Model 1. Single TAM Unit

In this model, a central office TAM unit plays a strong role in making decisions and driving TAM actions. Influence is concentrated at a single point, which has advantages, but results in less distributed ownership across the agency.

Model 2. Strong but Distributed Central Office Role

In this model, the central office plays a strong function in investment decisions, but there is no single designated TAM unit. Roles and responsibilities are distributed across multiple central office units and are supported by a central office TAM function that is tied to the investment planning role and may not have a title with TAM in it.

Model 3. Central Office Coordination with Strong Field Office Role

In this model, the central office plays a coordinating role but investment decisions are primarily made by field offices. This approach fosters strong ownership and decision-making that is close to the customer. Establishment of clear guidance and standards at the central office helps to avoid inconsistencies across offices, ensures that a statewide view of asset information can be created, and takes advantage of opportunities to gain efficiencies through the standardization of tools and processes. Field units may take on varying levels of ownership for TAM with respect to data collection, condition and performance monitoring, and work prioritization. The advantage of this model is the stronger link between TAM policies, goals, and objectives and work that is implemented. The disadvantage is the lack of consistent application of TAM across the agency and the greater likelihood that non-TAM priorities are implemented.

TIP
In international agencies, outsourced maintenance is common practice. The integration of TAM objectives in the contracts with the vendors is a important aspect of TAM implementation.

Utah DOT

The TAM unit at UDOT is located in the technology and innovation branch of the agency. This unit is responsible for meeting all TAM-related state and federal requirements and more importantly for advancing TAM and performance management (PM) at the agency. Utah has a strong centralized governance approach to its management so a centralized TAM unit with emphasis on information and innovation works well for advancing TAM.

Oklahoma DOT

The TAM unit at ODOT is in the central office under the planning unit but the implementation of TAM resides in ODOT’s field units called divisions. Most decisions on asset investments and actions occur at the division-level. The central office provides data and guidance to divisions, but decision-making on assets occurs within each division. With the MAP-21/FAST requirements and the need to deliver on the two and four year pavement and bridge targets, ODOT is considering ways to strengthen the central office and division coordination.

New York State DOT

At NYSDOT, Asset Management is coordinated under the Director of Maintenance Program Planning who reports to the Assistant Commissioner for Operations and Asset Management. NYSDOT uses a committee structure, described in their TAMP, to define TAM roles and responsibilities. It has three tiers of related teams: first are the field teams who take action on assets; the next tier are statewide teams located in headquarters that provide a statewide functional team, and the top tier is a comprehensive program team that provides policy and monitoring. A diagram of this is provided in section 3.2.1.

3.1.2

TAM Roles


This section provides information on creating a TAM unit and describes the most common roles needed for a successful TAM program. It also describes TAM related activities within an agency that may require additional coordination. Examples of TAM roles and integrating TAM with other related agency functions are interspersed throughout the section.


Core TAM Roles

Understanding what roles and responsibilities are most important for the TAM program is key to getting an agency ready and aligned to achieve TAM-related goals. It is crucial to fill each TAM-related role with qualified people who possess the right competencies.

Three key roles provide the foundation for implementing TAM in an agency: a TAM champion, a TAM lead, and a lead for each priority asset class.

TAM Champion

Having a TAM program champion leads to greater success in meeting TAM goals and objectives. The TAM champion advocates for TAM advancement and communicates its importance throughout the agency. TAM champions can come from various groups, but they are typically senior managers or executives. The TAM champion should be able to create a vision for how TAM will deliver a stronger agency in the future, communicate how TAM can benefit stakeholders, and gain acceptance from agency staff and stakeholders.

TAM Lead

The TAM lead is the person who is the head of the TAM unit or, if there is no TAM unit, is the lead for coordinating various TAM program activities. People in this role are responsible for making sure agency staff and external partners are working together to advance TAM. The TAM lead should be a person who understands and can manage dependencies across activities and who can develop and maintain good working relationships. The TAM lead should be a constructive problem solver who can monitor the entire program, spot concerns, and listen to and consider alternative points of view when necessary.

An agency’s top management support is an key component of TAM success. One important role of the TAM lead is to keep executive management informed about and engaged in the TAM program. This requires regular and effective communication with executives about plans and achievements. Building executive support for and confidence in TAM activities helps to ensure continued resources and support for TAM activities. When the rest of the agency sees executives supporting the TAM program, they are more likely to assist with TAM needs.

Asset Stewards

Asset stewards (sometimes called “Asset Owners,” “Asset Managers” or simply “Asset Leads”) have lead responsibilities for managing a particular class of asset. This role can be assigned at the agency-wide level as well as at the field office level. An asset steward should be someone who understands the asset well, has the ability to communicate the asset’s needs and the consequences of underinvestment and is able to work with other asset stewards to develop agency-wide investment strategies.

Iowa DOT

When the Iowa DOT TAM program was established, agency leadership prioritized the creation of a world-class asset management program and decided to address TAM implementation as a top-level organizational change initiative. This leadership focus and support allowed Iowa DOT’s TAM team to have authority throughout the agency, address organizational improvement needs, and focus on sustainability by building TAM governance.

TAM-Related Functions: Planning, Programming, and Delivery

TAM is inherently an integrative function, so designation of individuals performing key roles within agency planning, programming and work delivery functions can clarify the key points of responsibility and foster cross-functional coordination.

Project Prioritization

Within each program, key action include:

  • Adopting and modifying policies and guidelines for how and when prioritization is done
  • Developing prioritization methodologies
  • Coordinating the execution of the process
  • Gathering and compiling data
  • Implementing, managing and updating information systems to support the process
  • Performing analysis for individual projects
  • Analyzing, reporting and communicating prioritization results
  • Making final decisions about which projects will be advanced for funding

Maintenance and Operations

When work is being conducted in the field the following are important considerations for TAM program support:

  • Understand TAM goals and objectives and how field actions impact end results.
  • Understand the choices that were made during the programming process on asset treatments.
  • Capture data on work accomplished to keep asset information accurate.
  • Train field staff on the TAM program

Data Collection

Several steps are required to plan and execute data collection efforts – and then to process and store the data that are collected. Some agencies have established roles to provide standardization and coordination across data collection efforts. For each effort, key roles include:

  • Analysis to provide a sound business case for data collection
  • Research to identify the best method and approach to collecting the data
  • Procurement – when contractors are used to collect data
  • Data specification and design – that considers integration with existing agency data
  • Hardware and software specification and acquisition for data storage and processing
  • Guidance and oversight to ensure consistent and valid data
  • Data quality assurance
  • Data loading and validation

Development of a Long Range Plan

The long-range plan sets the framework for impactful asset investment decisions for the rest of the transportation development process. TAM implementation has a greater impact if TAM roles and responsibilities are clear in this step. It is also important to determine who will take the lead for the following:

  • Long range plan policies and priorities related to TAM
  • Consideration of tradeoffs across investment types (all program areas and across asset classes)
  • Consideration of TAM investment distribution within asset classes (rebuild, rehab, preservation)
  • Financial planning (funding outlook across investment types)

Program-Level Budgeting

Allocation of resources across program categories is a critical decision that both enables and constrains what can be accomplished. Where programs are defined based on funding sources or where allocations are based on formulas, there is little or no flexibility. However, where there is flexibility, it is important to establish TAM roles for technical analysis of investment versus performance tradeoffs, as well as for orchestration and facilitation of tradeoff decision making based on the results of this analysis.

Development of the TAMP

TAMP development is a multi-step process that involves agency stakeholders. Clearly articulating process, roles, and lead responsibility for the document yields the best product and makes it easier to implement the TAMP. Table 3.1 illustrates how to provide the link between roles and the key components of a federally-compliant TAMP development process.

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A TAMP cannot be developed in a silo; it required input from across the agency. See Chapter 2 for more information on TAMP development.

Table 3.1 illustrates a way to provide the link between some typical TAM roles and the key components of a federally-compliant TAMP development process.

Table 3.1 - Links to the TAMP Development Process

TAMP ComponentExample TAM Roles and Responsibilities
Asset Inventory and ConditionData Collection: State NHS (asset owners); Local NHS (bridges: state bridge unit, pavements: individual local agency data collection units)
Data Management: State DOT planning unit collects all data from the various data collection leads
Reporting and Visualization: TAMP development team
Asset Condition ForecastsState System
Bridges: State bridge management unit runs bridge management system (BMS)
Pavements: State pavement management unit runs pavement management system (PMS)
Other Assets: No management systems exist for the other assets so each asset owner uses ages to forecast asset condition in the future
Non-State NHS
Bridges: State bridge management unit runs bridge management system (BMS) and provides forecasts for the entire NHS
Pavements: State pavement management unit uses the data collected from local agencies runs pavement management system (PMS) and provides forecasts for the entire NHS
Financial PlanningState Funding Forecast: State Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
State Funding Uses: TAM unit works with CFO, programming unit, and asset owners to determine uses
Non-State NHS: TAM unit works with MPOs and local agencies to determine both funding forecasts and uses of funding
Life Cycle Planning and ManagementState Assets: TAM unit takes the lead in developing agency wide asset life cycle management policies. Each asset owner uses the agency wide policies and works with the field units to determine asset specific policies.
Non-State NHS Assets: Local agencies are invited to a workshop to provide input on life cycle planning and management policies impacting their system. This input is used for development of non-state owned NHS policies.
Risk ManagementThe TAM unit organizes a workshop to develop and refine the risk register and to develop risk mitigation actions.
State Assets: Information is used during the programming process to determine funding for risk mitigation actions.
Non-state Assets: For non-state NHS bridge and pavement assets, MPOs and local agencies are invited to the risk workshop to participate in the development of the risk register and mitigation actions. Specific funded initiatives are reported by the MPOs and local agencies to the TAM unit for inclusion in the TAMP.
Investment StrategiesThe TAM unit works with individual asset owners and field units to prioritize investments for TAM improvements, and to meet TAM targets and forecasts.
MPOs work with local agencies to develop investment strategies to advance NHS pavement and bridge performance.
Process ImprovementsThe TAM unit uses a workshop to bring together all stakeholders to develop and prioritize TAM improvement initiatives.

Wyoming DOT

WYDOT is increasing the use of performance-based project selection in order to optimize funding expenditures and meet their performance targets. This process helps guide resource allocation decisions in a constrained funding environment. WYDOT adopted a robust computerized system that moved the agency from project selection predominantly based on emphasizing current condition to project selection based on optimizing future estimated condition. Program managers for each asset type are responsible for maintaining their individual management systems in order to make performance forecasts within their program areas. The TAM lead works with the program managers to get the guidance to the districts. The TAM lead has been working with districts to build confidence in the management system outputs and the decision-process. This improvement has yielded WYDOT’s ability to deliver the targets that they project.

Supporting Roles

The following additional roles are important to support TAM in an agency:

  • Asset Data Stewards: ensure all data related to a specific asset class is accurate and aligned with other pieces of data; this is not the same as asset steward/owner.
  • Asset Management Software System Owners: manage/own specific software systems, bridge/ pavement management system; the owner is the software owner.
  • Asset Management Software System Architects: look at the connectivity of information across systems and across outputs.
  • Analysts (data, economics, financial): take data, then apply statistical, economic or financial analysis to provide guidance using that information.
  • Maintenance and Operations Managers: are out in a district or field office managing the day-to-day asset activities.
  • IT and Data Specialists: usually reside in the Data/IT unit; ensure that overall information and tools support for asset management work.

The following disciplines are key components of a TAM program:

  • Engineers: apply understanding of specific asset types, how the condition and role of assets influence treatment choices, and model how investments influence future performance.
  • Planners: in the planning or other units; consider long-term planning/policy-making for assets as it relates to programming and the connectivity of information throughout the cycle of activities.
  • Economists: look at economic tradeoffs of various scenarios on actions taken for a specific asset.

Table 3.2 - Agency roles list and location

 ExecutivePlanningEngineeringMaintenance & Operations
Policy Making
Asset Owner
Asset Data Steward
Asset Software
Asset Engineer
Economist
Finance/Funding
Field Manager
Communications

Virginia DOT

The Virginia DOT maintains most of the assets on state roads. For pavements and bridges, there are asset leads at both the central office and in the districts. Asset leads at the central office manage data collection and analysis and provide guidance on the work that is needed. The asset leads in the districts are responsible for implementing the work and recording completed work in the bridge and pavement management systems. The guidance on what work will be done varies by asset class. For overhead sign structures, both the district structure and traffic lead are involved with guidance from the central office traffic engineering division.

Building a Strong TAM Team

Matching TAM Roles to Skills

When TAM is first initiated, roles can be filled with available staff in a manner that takes advantage of available talents and personalities:

  • TAM Lead: people-oriented and enthusiastic; able to manage conflict across business units.
  • Resource Allocation Leads: analytical and proficient with complex software.
  • Data Collection & Management: detail-oriented and accurate.
  • Field Maintenance Management: task-oriented monitors.
  • Prioritization Leads: comfortable with uncertainty (gray areas), and willing to make decisions.

TIP
TAM is a team effort requiring involvement from analysts, managers, and to executive leaders.


Agencies have different skill needs and capabilities. Some agencies might possess skills ideal for one part of the TAM program, while it might be necessary to look outside the agency (outsource) for other skills. Outsourcing, addressed later on, can be pursued to address a vacancy for a highly qualified position, or to make up for the lack of a specific skillset in the agency.

Making the Case for TAM Positions

Building a case for TAM positions requires defining how the gaps in staffing will hold the agency back from achieving its objectives. If possible, describe the anticipated return on investment from the added staff. It can also be helpful to evaluate TAM efforts at peer agencies, to find out if they have a TAM unit, how many people are in it, and what roles and responsibilities they have. Find examples of agencies that successfully made the case for new staff positions and borrow from their approach.

A Forward-Looking Approach

Part of building a strong TAM team is seeking skills that will help to advance practices rather than sustain the status-quo. Advancements in technology are changing the way data are collected, processed and analyzed; and how work is planned and carried out. As automation increases, certain routine tasks become obsolete, while it becomes necessary to acquire new skills to take advantage of improvements. For example, with tools that produce more robust analysis, agencies will need less people who crunch the numbers but more people to interpret and communicate the results.

Typically, when an agency starts its TAM journey, data accuracy is an issue. When data is not accurate, people may lack the confidence necessary to use the data for making decisions. As data quality and availability improve, the TAM program develops a need for stronger data analytic skills.

As processes become more complex, new skills are needed to monitor and carry out checks and balances. TAM aims to cut across traditional silos, which gets complicated as more units and stakeholders get involved. Therefore, TAM units benefit from people who are comfortable dealing with complex processes. This is a capability that can be acquired through hiring or training.

Utah DOT

The Utah DOT has a strategic initiative to build a learning organization. A key element of this is a learning portal that includes training components. The training components include role expectations, guidance on how to fulfill key responsibilities of the role, and certification information. They have implemented modules for first time supervisors, transportation technicians, stormwater management and advanced leadership with more being developed monthly.

3.1.3

Competencies


Competencies are the combination of knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal attributes that enable individuals or groups to successfully perform their roles and responsibilities. Successful asset management requires a mix of technical and non-technical competencies.


Part of building a strong TAM team is seeking skills that will help to advance practices rather than sustain the status-quo. For example, implementing a TAM program relies on data accuracy and strong data analytic skills. Typically, when an agency starts its TAM journey, data accuracy is an issue. When data is not accurate, people may lack the confidence necessary to use the data for making decisions.

Advancements in technology are changing the way data are collected, processed and analyzed, as well as how work is planned and carried out. As automation increases, certain routine tasks become obsolete, while it becomes necessary to acquire new skills to take advantage of improvements. With tools that produce more robust analysis, agencies will need fewer people who crunch the numbers but more people to interpret and communicate the results. As processes become more complex, new skills are needed to monitor and carry out checks and balances. TAM aims to cut across traditional silos, which gets complicated as more units and stakeholders get involved. Therefore, TAM units benefit from people who are comfortable dealing with complex processes.

TIP
A key requirement under ISO-55001:2014 Asset management is ensuring the organization has identified competencies and is able to demonstrate their staff meets them.

Key Competencies

Part of building a strong TAM team is seeking skills that will help to advance practices rather than sustain the status-quo. For example, implementing a TAM program relies on data accuracy and strong data analytic skills. Typically, when an agency starts its TAM journey, data accuracy is an issue. When data is not accurate, people may lack the confidence necessary to use the data for making decisions.

Advancements in technology are changing the way data are collected, processed and analyzed, as well as how work is planned and carried out. As automation increases, certain routine tasks become obsolete, while it becomes necessary to acquire new skills to take advantage of improvements. With tools that produce more robust analysis, agencies will need fewer people who crunch the numbers but more people to interpret and communicate the results. As processes become more complex, new skills are needed to monitor and carry out checks and balances. TAM aims to cut across traditional silos, which gets complicated as more units and stakeholders get involved. Therefore, TAM units benefit from people who are comfortable dealing with complex processes.

Successful TAM practice relies on a number of key competencies:

Leadership: ability to establish a vision and motivate others to work towards achieving that vision.
Management: ability to make sure that the multiple activities in a TAM program are planned, coordinated, aligned and tracked.
Engineering: ability to understand the fundamentals of transportation asset and system design, construction, maintenance and operation.
Environmental: ability to analyze/ develop prediction models to measure how environmental changes may impact highway infrastructure
Financial planning: ability to understand financial planning basics and an awareness of funding sources and financial tools
Planning: ability to understand a DOT planning process and the constraints of that process.
Strategic planning: ability to understand strategic planning and how TAM fits into an agency’s business activities.
Problem solving: ability to work through inevitable conflicts and issues that arise in the process of working across agency silos.
Relationship building: ability to get different units in an organization to collaborate.
Analytical capabilities: ability to design and apply appropriate methodologies to gain key insights from available information.
Computer know-how: ability to work with a variety of software and comfortably navigate common operating systems.
Data know-how: ability to understand data structures, assemble and manipulate data in a variety of formats, and assess data quality.
Communications: ability to keep communication in forefront of everything that’s done; always aiming to make others understand what TAM program is trying to do. This is important when convincing individuals of change, or helping stakeholders understand TAMP long-term deliverables.
Positive attitude: in large-scale organizational change, taking a positive attitude is crucial to having people accept the change that will help strengthen the program, and convincing them that the solutions are the right ones.

TIP
A job description portal is a part of AASHTO’s Organizational Capabilities Management Portal. This is an excellent tool for sharing TAM job descriptions and competencies information.

FHWA/AASHTO Peer Exchanges

FHWA, in partnership with AASHTO, has held an annual TAM peer exchange since 2007. These peer exchanges have been a good forum for state DOT representatives to meet each other and hear practices related to the topic of the peer exchange. Peer exchange not only share key ingredients of successful practice – they also discuss challenges and obstacles. The peer exchanges are documented in published reports that are available to the public. A valuable aspect of the peer exchange are the relationships that are formed so that informal exchanges can occur throughout the year.

Developing Competencies within the Organization

Peer-to-Peer Learning

TAM knowledge and skills can be gained through experience and peer to peer (P2P) learning. Peer exchanges sponsored by national organizations such as FHWA, FTA, AASHTO, and TRB can be crucial to cross-fertilizing knowledge and experiences. At these peer exchanges, individuals can meet peers and build relationships they can rely on as issues arise in implementing TAM. There are also TAM-related conferences, such as the regularly-held TRB TAM conference. In addition, asset-specific conferences and TAM workshops are held regularly. Many times these events are by invitation, so agencies should contact AASHTO and FHWA to find out about upcoming events.

Competency Assessment & Training Tools

The Institute of Asset Management (IAM) offers an asset management certificate for those who are beginning in TAM roles. The certificate validates a basic understanding of TAM within seven discipline areas and leads to an IAM diploma.
The National Highway Institute (NHI) offers numerous training courses to help build and develop skills in TAM. Some courses are instructor led, while others are web-based. Courses are available for all levels, from those just starting in TAM to those who want to develop greater expertise to help take their TAM programs to the next level of maturity. In addition, transportation professionals can use many of the courses to obtain Continuing Education Units, Certification Maintenance credits, and Professional Development hours. AASHTO and FHWA are continuously developing new capacity-building resources so stay tuned for new training tools.

Information Sharing

When thinking about which competencies are needed in an agency’s TAM program, it is helpful to look at job descriptions for TAM positions in peer agencies. This includes new job descriptions that are developed for emerging roles, such as data scientists. AASHTO is building this capability to share job descriptions. Go to the AASHTO TAM Portal to access this resource.

Consultants

When a TAM unit finds it hard to acquire a core TAM competency, it may be necessary to hire a consultant to fill the need. Consultants can be considered when:

  • There is a need to perform a specialized task on a one-time or relatively infrequent basis.
  • The types of competencies required are difficult to obtain in the marketplace (e.g. data science)

It is important for agencies to clearly define what they hope to gain from consultants beyond delivery of a report or system. Consultant engagements can be designed to build in knowledge transfer activities to add needed competencies in the agency.

Changing Job Market

In the current robust economy, new employment opportunities make it difficult for state DOTs to attract and retain talent. Developing your TAM organization model to accommodate shorter tenures, incorporate knowledge management, and be clear about the relationship between roles and their impact is important to continued success of the effort.

Finding Talent

Agencies can consider converting existing staff with a planning, financial, or engineering background. Candidates must be results oriented, able to communicate well, possess good presentation skills and be able to bring diverse people together for common goals.

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Existing employees in an agency can be identified to build TAM competency. There are training opportunities in different TAM topics hosted by TAM organizations identified in Chapter 1.

New Mexico DOT

The Capital Program and Investment Director led the NMDOT Asset Management effort and has spent her career in transportation, starting at the FHWA before moving to NMDOT. She has worked in various parts of the NMDOT organization in engineering, administration, and as a district engineer. This variety of experiences gives her the competencies needed to be a successful TAM lead.

Minnesota DOT

The TAM lead at MnDOT came to the role from the maintenance side of the agency. The experience and understanding of maintenance business processes, data needs, and organizational culture help him lead and manage the implementation of TAM processes. Having direct responsibility for budgets and workplans related to maintenance assets, as well as experience in setting statewide performance measures for maintenance services, provided valuable skills and knowledge that now help him to deliver the TAM program at MnDOT.

Connecticut DOT

The CTDOT TAM data lead in the agency started his career in CTDOT’s bridge design unit and moved his interest to the AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) applications area. The competencies he has built in information technology and data combined with his business understanding of transportation assets are important in helping CTDOT’s TAM program roll out tools that support TAM decision-making. The roll out of these tools is in parallel to capital project delivery enhancements that produce continued efficiencies for the entire delivery team.


Caltrans

In 2015, the Caltrans Director created a TAM lead in the agency, recognizing the importance of TAM and the necessity of having a TAM lead who is responsible for implementing TAM and meeting federal and state TAM-related requirements. The TAM lead reports directly to the Caltrans Chief Deputy Director. The TAM lead started without any staff, but the unit has grown to house over ten people. The TAM lead is a veteran of the department and is able to advance the TAM program by getting leadership commitment at the executive level and having the business units throughout the department contribute to needed activities.

Executive Office Model

At Caltrans, the TAM group is in the executive office because of a desire to elevate the importance of asset management. The TAM group has more than 10 people in it who manage the TAMP development, and are also responsible for resource allocation for the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP). The SHOPP is a ~$4B annual program for major projects on the California State Highway System (SHS).

Planning Office Model

At Michigan DOT, the asset management function is distributed across the agency, but the TAM lead is in the planning bureau. Locating the TAM lead within planning provides a strong link to strategic investment planning and decision-making.

Engineering Office Models

The Connecticut DOT TAM unit resides in the Bureau of Engineering and Construction and reports directly to the Office of the Chief Engineer. The TAM Unit works with asset stewards, designated for each asset, to coordinate TAM activities across the Department.

Maintenance and Operations Office Model

At the Nevada DOT, the Maintenance and Asset Management Division leads the development of the agency’s Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP). The division supports district activities to ensure that the state-maintained highway system is maintained in a condition consistent with the Nevada DOT TAMP, work plans, policies, program objectives, budget, and available resources. It also supports a proactive preservation focus in maintenance that extends to the 10-year investment strategies outlined in the TAMP.

Integrating All Planning

The TAM unit at the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is located in the multimodal planning division. TAM is a key part of MnDOT’s integrated planning process, which utilizes a framework defined with explicit coordination across plans and programs.
MnDOT TAMP and related plans

Source: MNDOT TAMP 2019

Utah DOT

The TAM unit at UDOT is located in the technology and innovation branch of the agency. This unit is responsible for meeting all TAM-related state and federal requirements and more importantly for advancing TAM and performance management (PM) at the agency. Utah has a strong centralized governance approach to its management so a centralized TAM unit with emphasis on information and innovation works well for advancing TAM.

Oklahoma DOT

The TAM unit at ODOT is in the central office under the planning unit but the implementation of TAM resides in ODOT’s field units called divisions. Most decisions on asset investments and actions occur at the division-level. The central office provides data and guidance to divisions, but decision-making on assets occurs within each division. With the MAP-21/FAST requirements and the need to deliver on the two and four year pavement and bridge targets, ODOT is considering ways to strengthen the central office and division coordination.

New York State DOT

At NYSDOT, Asset Management is coordinated under the Director of Maintenance Program Planning who reports to the Assistant Commissioner for Operations and Asset Management. NYSDOT uses a committee structure, described in their TAMP, to define TAM roles and responsibilities. It has three tiers of related teams: first are the field teams who take action on assets; the next tier are statewide teams located in headquarters that provide a statewide functional team, and the top tier is a comprehensive program team that provides policy and monitoring. A diagram of this is provided in section 3.2.1.

Iowa DOT

When the Iowa DOT TAM program was established, agency leadership prioritized the creation of a world-class asset management program and decided to address TAM implementation as a top-level organizational change initiative. This leadership focus and support allowed Iowa DOT’s TAM team to have authority throughout the agency, address organizational improvement needs, and focus on sustainability by building TAM governance.

Wyoming DOT

WYDOT is increasing the use of performance-based project selection in order to optimize funding expenditures and meet their performance targets. This process helps guide resource allocation decisions in a constrained funding environment. WYDOT adopted a robust computerized system that moved the agency from project selection predominantly based on emphasizing current condition to project selection based on optimizing future estimated condition. Program managers for each asset type are responsible for maintaining their individual management systems in order to make performance forecasts within their program areas. The TAM lead works with the program managers to get the guidance to the districts. The TAM lead has been working with districts to build confidence in the management system outputs and the decision-process. This improvement has yielded WYDOT’s ability to deliver the targets that they project.

Virginia DOT

The Virginia DOT maintains most of the assets on state roads. For pavements and bridges, there are asset leads at both the central office and in the districts. Asset leads at the central office manage data collection and analysis and provide guidance on the work that is needed. The asset leads in the districts are responsible for implementing the work and recording completed work in the bridge and pavement management systems. The guidance on what work will be done varies by asset class. For overhead sign structures, both the district structure and traffic lead are involved with guidance from the central office traffic engineering division.

Utah DOT

The Utah DOT has a strategic initiative to build a learning organization. A key element of this is a learning portal that includes training components. The training components include role expectations, guidance on how to fulfill key responsibilities of the role, and certification information. They have implemented modules for first time supervisors, transportation technicians, stormwater management and advanced leadership with more being developed monthly.

FHWA/AASHTO Peer Exchanges

FHWA, in partnership with AASHTO, has held an annual TAM peer exchange since 2007. These peer exchanges have been a good forum for state DOT representatives to meet each other and hear practices related to the topic of the peer exchange. Peer exchange not only share key ingredients of successful practice – they also discuss challenges and obstacles. The peer exchanges are documented in published reports that are available to the public. A valuable aspect of the peer exchange are the relationships that are formed so that informal exchanges can occur throughout the year.

New Mexico DOT

The Capital Program and Investment Director led the NMDOT Asset Management effort and has spent her career in transportation, starting at the FHWA before moving to NMDOT. She has worked in various parts of the NMDOT organization in engineering, administration, and as a district engineer. This variety of experiences gives her the competencies needed to be a successful TAM lead.

Minnesota DOT

The TAM lead at MnDOT came to the role from the maintenance side of the agency. The experience and understanding of maintenance business processes, data needs, and organizational culture help him lead and manage the implementation of TAM processes. Having direct responsibility for budgets and workplans related to maintenance assets, as well as experience in setting statewide performance measures for maintenance services, provided valuable skills and knowledge that now help him to deliver the TAM program at MnDOT.

Connecticut DOT

The CTDOT TAM data lead in the agency started his career in CTDOT’s bridge design unit and moved his interest to the AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) applications area. The competencies he has built in information technology and data combined with his business understanding of transportation assets are important in helping CTDOT’s TAM program roll out tools that support TAM decision-making. The roll out of these tools is in parallel to capital project delivery enhancements that produce continued efficiencies for the entire delivery team.