3.1.2 TAM Roles


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 a 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 actions 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.

A TAMP cannot be developed in a silo; it requires 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
Field Manager

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.

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.