This page features information on TAM fundamentals. Whether you want to learn about the guide, read some basic definitions, or get an overview of TAM, you can find what you need here.
It is important to establish key terms that are used throughout the Guide. While many of these terms have multiple or nuanced definitions, the definitions listed here are the assumed meanings used in the context of this Guide. Each chapter also lists important terms that expand on this list.
Transportation asset management (TAM) is defined by AASHTO as a strategic and systematic process of operating, maintaining, upgrading, and expanding physical assets effectively throughout their life cycle. It focuses on business and engineering practices for resource allocation and utilization, with the objective of better decision making based upon quality information and well defined objectives.
FHWA defines TAM similarly, stating, “Asset management is a strategic and systematic process of operating, maintaining, and improving physical assets, with a focus on engineering and economic analysis based upon quality information, to identify a structured sequence of maintenance, preservation, repair, rehabilitation, and replacement actions that will achieve and sustain a desired state of good repair (SOGR) over the lifecycle of the assets at minimum practicable cost.”
In the International Standards Organization (ISO) Standard 55000, asset management is defined as the “coordinated activity of an organization to realize value from assets. Realization of value involves the balancing of costs, risks, opportunities and performance benefits.” In addition, the ISO standard states that, “Asset management enables an organization to examine the need for, and performance of, assets and asset systems at different levels. Additionally, it enables the application of analytical approaches towards managing an asset over the different stages of its life cycle (which can start with the conception of the need for the asset, through to its disposal, and includes the managing of any potential post disposal liabilities).”
Performances measures are quantifiable metrics that are used to track progress toward goals, objectives, and established performance targets.
A performance target is a level of performance desired to be achieved within a specific time frame.
State of good repair (SGR) refers to a condition in which existing physical assets, both individually and as a system, are functioning as designed within their useful service life and are kept functional through regular maintenance and replacement programs.
Levels of service are an agency’s stated commitment to deliver asset service at a specified level of quality and reliability. Service levels can be asset performance-related or customer/regulatory-related (complaints, meeting regulatory requirements). These levels of service can include, but are not limited to, the historic “level of service” used to grade traffic congestion.
Asset condition refers to an asset’s current state, as specifically defined by its appearance, perceived level of service, and observed physical state, whether or not it impacts its performance.
Risk is the positive or negative effect of uncertainty or variability upon agency objectives. [23 USC 515.6]
Life cycle planning and management is a process to estimate the cost of managing an asset class, or asset sub-group over its whole life with consideration for minimizing cost while preserving or improving asset condition. [23 CFR 515.5]
Whole-life costing is the systematic consideration of all relevant costs and revenues associated with the development, operations, and maintenance of the asset.
Reliability-centered maintenance is a structured, risk-based approach for determining the maintenance requirement for any physical asset, based on its operating context within the agency.
Resource allocation is the process of assigning scarce resources to investments in transportation assets. The assigned resources can be money, staff time, contractor capacity, equipment, or other organizational requirements for assets. The investments can be capital projects, maintenance efforts, or other projects and activities that require the use of an organization’s resources through various delivery methods.
The foundation of a good TAM program is a set of principles that establishes the values of the agency and the standards by which the TAM program will be carried out. TAM principles are the underpinnings of all of the activities that will be taken in an agency’s TAM program and connect to its desired end results.
Policy-Driven. TAM should capture and respond to policy objectives, and provide meaningful information about how changes in the transportation system support these objectives. A TAM policy can set boundaries, clarify intent, and communicate the scope of a TAM program including types of assets that will be managed and what work activities to emphasize.. [NCHRP 551]
Performance-Based. TAM should have concrete objectives that are translated into system performance measures used for both day-to-day operation and longer-term strategic management. The use of performance data to support the management of assets enables agencies to select and deliver projects that achieve its objectives. Transparent processes allow for accountability to both internal and external stakeholders.
Risk-Based. Risk management plays a role in resource allocation, project selection, long-term planning and other essential parts of the TAM process. As such, an organization’s approach to risk management and the outcomes resulting from a risk assessment have important implications for TAM. An agency must establish a risk management approach and integrate risk management in TAM planning and decision making.
Strategically Aligned with Agency Priorities. TAM measures should be aligned with agency priorities and goals to ensure that investments made to extend asset service life provide the maximum impact to achieve long-term goals. Connecting performance measures to higher level strategic goals also supports an agency’s ability to communicate to customers and stakeholders how technical measures relate to system performance.
Transparent. TAM planning and results should be monitored and reported for both impact and effectiveness. Feedback on actual performance should influence agency goals and objectives, as well as future resource allocation and project decisions. Transparency and agency accountability are key in ensuring the long-term support of project partners, customers and stakeholders.
Information-Driven/Evidence-Based. Strategic decisions with respect to agency goals and TAM objectives should be evaluated using credible and current data. Decision support tools such as management systems should be applied to help in accessing, analyzing and tracking data, and must be an integral part of business and decision processes. Data requirements for performance measures should be realistic and feasible. [NCHRP 551]
Option Oriented. By taking a structured and repeatable approach to TAM decision-making, an organization improves its own resilience and ensures that it will continue to succeed even as new challenges arise and personnel changes over time.
Continuously Improved. TAM processes should provide managers with sufficient information to understand problems and suggest solutions. The agency should be committed to regular, ongoing processes of monitoring and reporting results in order to identify and implement improvements to system performance or further the effectiveness of TAM. [NCHRP 551]
Asset management encompasses the full set of business processes related to the management of physical assets. There are several key TAM elements listed below that offer the greatest opportunity to improve an agency's asset management efforts.
TAM Elements Overview
Monitoring the state of the assets and developing desired and expected Levels of Service (LoS). Performance measures are used to align agency investment decisions with organizational objectives, such as asset condition or system reliability, and to monitor progress towards achieving agency goals. In TAM, asset performance is most commonly defined in terms of asset condition or maintenance LoS. LoS provides the link between agency goals and the investments and interventions that should take priority when managing assets.
Maximizing use of available revenues. Agencies are faced with the problem of determining how to divide scarce resources between different asset types, in order to accomplish a variety of different objectives. TAM planning offers processes to help make these resource allocation decisions, such as Multi-Objective Decision Analysis (MODA) ), long term financial planning, and Life-Cycle Planning.
Monitoring and managing risk. In TAM, uncertainty complicates efforts to make decisions about the future and forces agencies to be nimble so as to effectively respond to unpredictable events and evolving conditions. An organization’s approach to risk management and the outcomes resulting from a risk assessment have implications for TAM. It is important to establish processes to track changes in risks over time and monitor actions taken to manage risks, through tools such as a risk register and/or a risk mitigation plan.
Investing in asset maintenance. State DOTs can specify their desired SGR, consistent with their TAM objectives, for the 10-year analysis period of their TAMP. This strategic long-term maintenance strategy helps agencies minimize the life cycle costs of preserving assets, while also managing asset performance to a defined target to the extent practicable with available resources.
Understanding the potential for asset failure and developing intervention strategies. Being aware of the potential for asset failure and making strategic investment decisions can help agencies prevent failures, reduce costs, and maintain a desired level of service. Over an asset lifecycle, a range of interventions are possible, from reactive, routine and preventative maintenance, to large investment associated with renewal, replacement and disposal.
Allocating resources and prioritizing work based on both short and long-term performance. The resource allocation process should support achieving short- and long-term goals. An agency must establish what scarce resources must be allocated, and what the constraints on these resources are. A key part of the process is to translate goals and objectives into performance measures so the agency can set target values for key measures and/or establish a target level of service.
Continuous improvement based on feedback. An agency should have regular, ongoing processes of monitoring and reporting results in order to identify and implement improvements to system performance or further the effectiveness of the performance management process. Ongoing monitoring, improvement and/or problem identification should be incorporated into the planning process to help adjust and determine future targets and processes.
Aligning the organization. Successful TAM depends on the alignment of a diverse set of internal business units and external partners and stakeholders. Strategic coordination and communication can bring these people and groups together to achieve TAM goals. In addition, the choice of a TAM organization model is important, and should align with and support agency policies and priorities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Frameworks and Guidance
There are numerous existing frameworks, models, and guidance documents related to asset management. This Guide is intended to build upon these existing resources and provide updated information where necessary.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
ISO has published a set of standards on asset management. Standard 55000 provides an overview of asset management and asset management systems (i.e. management systems for the management of assets). It also provides the context for ISO 55001 and ISO 55002. International cooperation in the preparation of these standards has identified common practices that can be applied to the broadest range of assets, in the broadest range of organizations, across the broadest range of cultures. The adoption of this International Standard enables an organization to achieve its objectives through the effective and efficient management of its assets. The application of an asset management system provides assurance that those objectives can be achieved consistently and sustainably over time.
Additional standards related to asset management include ISO 55010 which covers guidance on alignment of asset management, finance and accounting; and ISO 55011 which covers guidance on the development of government asset management policy. For more information, the standard is available to purchase: https://www.iso.org/standard/55088.html
Figure 1.3 Relationship between key elements of an asset management program
The gray box designates the boundary of the asset management system
Source: Adapted from ISO 55000. 2016
Publicly Available Standard (PAS) 55
Prior to the development of ISO 55000, the Publicly Available Standard (PAS) 55 was released by the British Standards Institute. This standard contains terms and definitions; information on asset management policy, strategy, and objectives; discussion on implementing asset management plans; as well as performance assessment and improvement information. The standard is available to purchase: https://www.iso.org/obp/ui/#iso:std:iso:55000:ed-1:v2:en.
Figure 1.4 Planning and Implementation Elements of an Asset Management System
Source: Adapted from PAS 55
Institute of Asset Management (IAM)
The IAM publication, Asset Management – An Anatomy (2015), provides a basic overview of asset management and its benefits. It also provides a discussion of six asset management subject areas: Strategy and Planning, Asset Management Decision-Making, Life Cycle Delivery, Asset Information, Organization and People, and Risk and Review. These subject areas are reflected in the framework shown in Figure 1.5.
IAM also has information on developing and maintaining a Strategic Asset Management Plan (SAMP). All of their resources can be found on their website: https://theiam.org/.
Figure 1.4 Planning and implementation elements of an asset management system
Source: Adapted from PAS 55
Institute of Public Work Engineering Australasia (IPWEA)
Institute of Public Work Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) IPWEA has produced the International Infrastructure Management Manual (IIMM). This guide provides checklists, process, guidance, and case studies on asset management practice from agencies globally. The manual contains guidance for all infrastructure types and is suitable for agencies of all levels of maturity. The manual is written to align with ISO 55000 with a focus on how to implement asset management concepts.
The IIMM must be purchased from the IPWEA online bookshop which can be accessed here: http://www.nams.org.nz/pages/273/international-infrastructure-management-manual-2011-edition.htm.
UK Road Liaison Group
The UK Road Liaison Group developed the publication titled Well-Managed Highway Infrastructure: A Code of Practice. This code is designed to support and promote the adoption of an integrated asset management approach to highway infrastructure based on the establishment of levels of service through risk based assessment. The code is broken into four sections: Overarching Principles, Highways, Structures, and Lighting. The Code also summarizes 36 recommendations put forward to the Department for Transport to enhance asset management across UK highway networks.
A PDF of this document is available online: http://www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org/en/utilities/document-summary.cfm?docid=4F93BA10-D3B0-4222-827A8C48401B26AC.
Assessment Tools and Maturity Models
Assessing asset management maturity helps establish goals and encourages improvement. This section provides information on existing assessment tools and maturity models agencies can use as resources.
TAM Gap Analysis Tool
This Excel-based gap analysis tool was developed under National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Project 08-90 and builds on the gap analysis tool introduced in the AASHTO Transportation Asset Management Guide – A Focus on Implementation. The tool helps agencies identify and prioritize needed enhancements to their asset management programs. The tool is available on the AASHTO TAM Portal: https://www.tam-portal.com/resource/aashto-transportation-asset-management-gap-analysis-tool-users-guide/.
IAM Maturity Scale and Guidance
The IAM Maturity Scale and Guidance document provides a generic maturity scale for agencies looking to assess their current asset management practice and determine ways to grow and mature. This guidance is available for purchase here: https://theiam.org/knowledge/Knowledge-Base/asset-management-maturity-scale-and-guidance/.
Data Gap Assessment Tool
To assess data and information maturity, agencies can use NCHRP Report 814, Data to Support Transportation Agency Business Needs: A Self-Assessment Guide. This report provides steps to prepare for the assessment, conduct the assessment, and improve and monitor the agency’s data and information maturity over time. The assessment approach presented is flexible and scalable to many different agency needs. The Guide helps agencies determine if they have the right data, if their data is good enough, if they are getting full value from their data, and what they need to do to improve.
The self-assessment available on the Transportation Performance Management (TPM) Toolbox (https://www.tpmtools.org) is available to agencies looking to assess their level of performance management maturity. Three different assessment options are available: a quick, 2-minute assessment, a standard assessment, and an assessment by component of the TPM framework presented in the TPM Guidebook.
Integrating TAM Within Agency Strategic Plans and Policies
Integrating TAM within existing strategic documents is key to ensuring TAM is established and sustained.
TAM is not a stand-alone practice that is only applicable to select areas of a DOT. Ideally, TAM principles and practices should be integrated within an agency's vision, mission and strategy documents (see Figure 2.1). TAM promotes accountability, preservation, data-driven decision-making and the optimization of resources; all of these are broader strategic goals often outlined in plans and policies other than a TAMP. Aligning TAM with the agency’s strategic documents helps ensure an agency's vision is all encompassing and cohesive.
These documents include:
- Agency-wide strategic plan and/or business plan (including long-range plans)
- Agency-wide financial plan
- State long-range plan
- Other performance plans (safety, mobility, freight, etc.)
In addition, some agencies may choose to adopt a TAM policy with principles that the agency will follow. A TAM policy can be used to communicate the purpose of TAM and build understanding and support for TAM within the agency. It can also help to sustain a TAM approach through leadership changes. See the next section for further information on creating a TAM policy.
MDOT’s strategic plan has seven strategic areas of focus. A key focus area is System Focus, which aims to provide cost-effective, integrated and sustainable transportation solutions. The first strategy under this focus is to “apply asset management principles to prioritize and implement the most cost-effective transportation investment strategies.” This connection between MDOT’s strategic plan and their TAM program communicates the importance of asset management in how the agency conducts business. It gives TAM a seat at the agency-wide strategic plan monitoring sessions and allows for the resources needed to carry out TAM activities.
Source: Michigan DOT. 2017. MDOT Strategic Plan. https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/MDOT_2017_StrategicPlan_553573_7.pdf
Creating a TAM Policy
A TAM policy describes the adoption of asset management principles for managing infrastructure. It defines the intent of the TAM program and can include how TAM will be carried out in the agency. Leadership direction on the policy helps achieve buy-in throughout the agency, making it easier to ensure it connects to and aligns with other strategic documents.
A TAM policy can be the first place an agency communicates the strategy of their TAM program. It can be thought of as a contract between the agency and its customers, partners and stakeholders that defines how TAM fits within the agency's decision making process.
Some elements of a TAM Policy can be included within a TAMP (TAM Objectives, Scope of TAM, connection of TAM to other planning initiatives, and TAM roles). However, a separate TAM Policy may provide those responsible for TAM within an organization the ability to challenge existing processes and approaches. A concise TAM Policy defines the principles that guide the decisions made during TAMP development and implementation.
A TAM Policy can outline the types of assets considered for management and identify where in the cycle of DOT work activities to emphasize asset management practices. It can also establish the high-priority initiatives on which the agency will focus their efforts. A TAM policy starts to set boundaries and clarify the intent of asset management.
A TAM policy may include:
- Definitions of services provided to customers and distinctions between service levels
- Approaches for managing assets from a whole life perspective
- Decision-making standards, based on the triple bottom line (economic, environmental, and social)
- Consideration of risk
- Approach for making transparent, data- driven decisions
For further details on developing a TAM Policy, see the how-to guide in this chapter.
The Oklahoma DOT identified the following TAM objectives to help guide their asset management program:
- Maintain (improve) the condition of the state’s bridges and roadways
- Reduce risk associated with asset performance
- Make better data driven decisions about assets
- Reduce costs and improve efficiency, including effectively delivering projects that support asset management
- Increase internal and external communications and transparency
- Improve customer service
- Improve safety on the state’s transportation system
- Enhance mobility of people and goods
TAM Goals, Objectives, Strategies
TAM goals and objectives support and communicate the policy and align with the broader agency vision, mission, goals and strategies. Goals and objectives may cover transportation system performance and desired outcomes, as well as agency decision-making approaches and practices. Some agencies have goals and objectives, while some have only goals and others have only objectives. Regardless of the terminology that is used, it is important that agencies set a vision and establish a direction to move towards. The Oklahoma DOT practice example highlights their TAM objectives.
Agencies should include a clear statement of TAM principles – either within the agency’s strategic documents or as a stand-alone policy. They should also seek opportunities to strengthen the integration of TAM within the agency’s strategic planning efforts.
Ingredients for Success in Creating a TAM Policy
The following are some of the key ingredients that make a TAM policy successful.
Leadership support and direction in the effort to create a TAM policy is important. Effective leadership ensures and maintains a connection across the various types of goals. A typical transportation agency has a lot of moving parts and multiple, sometimes conflicting, priorities. The nature of TAM and its success in meeting TAM goals involves actions that cut across individual business units. Leadership is a critical ingredient in creating positive change and maintaining processes across business units. See section 3.1 for more information on leadership.
Internal and External Stakeholder Engagement and Support
Involving groups and people who want a voice in the TAM program’s success, whether external partners or stakeholders or internal business units, is important for creating policies that will have a positive impact and are sustainable. See section 3.2 for more on stakeholder engagement.
There may be multiple ways to accomplish policy objectives, so the policy should be simple and flexible rather than complex and rigid.
Link to Performance Management
Performance management is an underlying component of good asset management. Policies should consider the ability to define performance measures, collect data and measure performance. They should also consider the cycle of setting objectives, monitoring performance and making adjustments. See section 2.2 for more on TAM performance and monitoring.
Amtrak’s Engineering Asset Management policy identifies guiding principles that the agency intends to use in managing the infrastructure it owns and maintains. Specifically, the policy focuses on developing asset management capability and implementing the TAMP. The policy begins with a purpose statement that defines asset management, and then lays out seven principles (or standards) to guide asset management practice. The principles highlight ownership, transparency, risk management, life cycle costs and information systems standards for Amtrak’s asset management practice. In addition, the policy also identifies responsibilities and leadership commitment, calling out specific positions in the agency and their role in delivering the asset management plan. The policy is included as a section in their asset management plan and is signed by the President and CEO, EVP Chief Operating Officer, and VP Chief Engineer.
FHWA Principles of Asset Management
FHWA has defined a number of basic principles for asset management as listed below. All of these ideas work together to help an agency make decisions to better address their infrastructure needs. Asset management should be:
Policy driven. Decisions reflect policy goals and objectives that define desired system condition and service levels.
Performance based. Performance information is used to establish target levels, to allocate funding, and to monitor progress.
Risk based. Risk management is used to identify, analyze, evaluate and address the risks to assets and system performance.
Option oriented. Comprehensive choices and trade-offs are examined at each level of decision making.
Data driven. Management systems and tools that utilize quality data are used to support decisions.
Transparent. There are clear criteria for making decisions.
Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and the demands on the transportation system have grown dramatically. Meanwhile, the system is aging. Seattle DOT (SDOT) needed to find a way to balance infrastructure expansion, preservation, and maintenance by aligning its Asset Management practices with its service delivery strategies. All of this had to occur within the limits of available resources and ensure that SDOT strategically managed the transportation system for years to come. SDOT’s Asset Management initiative provides a long-term vision of how SDOT intends to accomplish its mission. In 2007, the SDOT began implementation of Asset Management, a strategic and systematic process that guides decisions about construction, maintenance, and operation of SDOT infrastructure. The SDOT identified and adopted the following three key principles of asset management principles:
- Build, preserve, and operate transportation infrastructure services more cost effectively with improved asset performance;
- Deliver to customers the best value for public tax dollars spent; and
- Enhance the credibility and accountability of SDOT to the Mayor and City Council
These principles were intended to identify the outcome of a fully implemented asset management program at SDOT. They are supported by a longer list of asset management principles (https://www.seattle.gov/transportation/about-sdot/asset-management) and an Asset management Policy that identify the areas of focus. The Policy highlights the steps SDOT intends to take recognizing that achieving the key principles is a long-term effort achieved through continuous improvement.
In 2015, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) updated Policy Directive 14 (PD 14.0) “Policy Guiding Statewide Plan Development” to reinforce the importance of TAM in the transportation budget allocation process. It includes the following objectives:
- Infrastructure Condition – Preserve the transportation infrastructure condition to ensure safety and mobility at a least life cycle cost
- Maintenance – Annually maintain CDOT’s roadways and facilities to minimize the need for replacement and rehabilitation
Embedded in this policy are target-setting requirements that the Transportation Commission requested. A performance tracking mechanism is tied to this policy directive. This performance management focus is reinforced annually in a PD14 workshop hosted by the Transportation Commission where the most recent performance results are presented.
Source: Colorado DOT Scorecard, 2017.
ISO 55000 adopts the concept of an Asset Management System, as the figure at right illustrates, which typically consists of several components:
- An organizational strategic plan that set the overall context
- An asset management policy establishes the principles on which the agency makes decisions associated with the management of and investment in infrastructure. It seeks to link the organizational goals and objectives to the principles for management of the infrastructure portfolio.
- The Asset Management Strategy, (sometimes termed the Strategic Asset Management Plan or SAMP) establishes how the agency overall will implement asset management and implement the AM Policy. It articulates a framework of how management processes will function in managing infrastructure and delivering services, as well as how the agency will continuously improve their asset management practices over time.
- Asset management plans developed for individual asset classes (pavements, bridges, ancillary assets) are focused on their individual portfolios. However, they align with the overall agency strategy and are customized to the level of management required.
- Operational plans and work programs guide routine activities and have a line of sight to overall agency goals in this structure.
Within the ISO structure, the TAM framework includes these components but each component may vary in scope. For example, the SAMP may require all asset classes to forecast demand, establish service levels and have performance indicators, but compliant sub-asset management plans may have different levels of complexity. A bridge asset management plan may be more robust than one for network culverts. The agency can select the scope and structure appropriate for each aspect within the portfolio.
Asset Management System Components
Source: IPWEA. 2015. International Infrastructure Management Manual (IIMM). https://www.ipwea.org/publications/ipweabookshop/iimm
Planning and Programming
Linking and aligning asset management with planning and programming activities helps strengthen an agency's delivery of projects. Planning and programming processes set strategic direction and resource allocation practices; TAM helps set priorities and encourages data-driven, performance-based decision-making.
Planning is the process of setting strategic direction through goals and objectives, then performing analysis to identify trends, strategies, and long-term investment priorities. Planning answers the questions of where to go and how to get there. Programming involves allocating resources in order to determine a program of projects the agency will pursue. Planning and programming are central to the work of any transportation agency. Integrating TAM into the planning and programming process will only strengthen and sustain the practices involved in both areas.
Developing the Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) are two planning activities where the integration of TAM is especially relevant.
TAM principles, data and tools can help shape the LRTP and STIP by:
- Linking agency resource allocation to policy objectives.
- Defining the performance targets to be achieved.
- Identifying strategic investment choices and evaluating and analyzing tradeoffs among them at the appropriate stages.
- Providing the information and analyses to facilitate the appropriate resource allocation decisions that follow good TAM practice.
Integrating TAM approaches with planning and programming goes beyond informing and shaping the activities. Communication and coordination between activities and the people involved in them is important as well. Both planning and TAM require an understanding of the life cycle of an asset. This requires coordination with operations teams to communicate how decisions impact the expected useful life of the asset. Operations teams also need to be aware of the asset management planning horizon, performance measures and targets. These teams need to ensure the capital plan has been accounted for in the maintenance and operational plans. In addition, since planning is a network-level endeavor, teams managing each of the different asset types need to communicate with one another and coordinate with planning.
The following are some key questions to ask when considering the integration of TAM with planning and programming.
- Is the cost of maintenance and operations taken into account in the decision-making process to select capital projects?
- Are there mechanisms to directly evaluate tradeoffs between capital investment and operations and maintenance implications within the planning process?
- Are the needs and implications associated with connected and autonomous vehicles considered in the asset management plan?
- Are future risks such as climate change fully integrated into the capital planning process (rehabilitations, renewal, service level upgrades, etc.)? Is scenario planning used to assess the risk effects of system wide external changes?
The FHWA Asset Management Financial Report Series, Report 4 Integrating Financial Plans into the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting Processes describes the importance of integrating planning, programming, and budgeting with asset management.
The relative timeframes of various planning and programming activities is shown in figure 2.2.
Figure 2.2 The Relative Timeframes Between Plans
Long-range plans, asset management plans, TIPs, and state budgets should be aligned.
Source: FHWA, 2017. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/asset/plans/financial/hif16001.pdf
When developing their 2018 TAMP MDT aligned their pavement performance targets and goals to those within their planning document TranPlan 21 (now TranPlanMT). TranPlanMT defines MDT's policy direction for operating, preserving, and improving Montana’s transportation system over a 20-year period. It serves as the guiding document for MDT decisions, especially those related to investing Montana’s limited transportation funds. This type of alignment can help illustrate a link from policy objectives to investment strategies and resource allocation.
The Basic TAMP
A TAMP describes an agency’s goals and objectives for maintaining its assets over time. It describes an agency’s most critical assets, and their current condition. It also describes the agency’s strategy for preserving its assets, predict future conditions given the agency’s planned investments, formulate and deliver an investment plan, and discuss how the agency manages risks to its assets.
This section discusses the requirements for a TAMP that is consistent with TAM leading practice. A TAMP includes:
- TAM Policies, Goals and Objectives
- Asset Inventory and Condition
- Life Cycle Planning Approach
- Predicted Asset Conditions
- Investment Plan
- Risk Management
Note there are additional specific requirements for a TAMP that is prepared to comply with Federal requirements. State DOTs are required to prepare a TAMP with a 10-year horizon that includes, at a minimum, NHS pavements and bridges. Transit agencies that receive Federal funds are required to prepare a TAMP with a four-year horizon that includes their revenue vehicles, facilities, infrastructure, and equipment (including service vehicles). FHWA provides a checklist of elements of TAMPs compliant with Federal requirements: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/asset/guidance/certification.pdf. A similar FTA document is available at: https://www.transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/docs/regulations-and-guidance/asset-management/55371/compliancechecklistfy2018_0.pdf.
TAM Policies, Goals and Objectives
A TAMP summarizes an agency’s policies, goals, and objectives and describes how its approach to TAM helps support these. For instance, the document might discuss how maintaining assets in good repair supports the organization's broader goals for strengthening mobility and supporting economic development. It may also describe how the organization defines the desired state of repair of its assets, or criteria for evaluating whether or not an asset is in good repair. A clear linkage between TAM objectives and the achievement of wider agency goals should be directly illustrated within the TAMP.
Asset Inventory and Condition
In preparing the TAMP, the agency must decide which asset classes to include in the document, and the level of detail in which the assets are described. For a highway plan, critical assets include pavements and bridges. A TAMP that is prepared to comply with Federal requirements must include these assets on the National Highway System at a minimum. Other assets addressed in a highway TAMP may include, but are not limited to: drainage assets such as culverts; traffic and safety assets such as signs, signals, and lighting; maintenance facilities; and Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) devices. For a transit plan, critical assets include revenue vehicles, facilities, infrastructure (for agencies that operate fixed guideway) and additional equipment, such as service vehicles.
A TAMP should provide a listing, typically in summary form, of the assets the agency has identified for inclusion. For each asset class the document should describe the physical extent of the asset, and current asset conditions. Chapter 3 of this document describes approaches for measuring asset condition and performance. Note that FHWA and FTA have developed specific requirements for reporting asset conditions for highway and transit assets, respectively. However, agencies are not limited to these measures, and may include multiple measures of condition in their TAMP to help provide a complete description of asset conditions.
Often it is helpful to place the data on an agency’s asset portfolio's current condition into some context. For instance, the TAMP may include photographs of representative asset condition to help illustrate what is meant by a given value for a performance measure. Also, a TAMP may include historic data on asset conditions to help illustrate condition trends.
Life Cycle Planning Approach
A critical component of a TAMP is a discussion of how an agency maintains its assets over their life cycle. Ideally the agency’s approach to life cycle planning should help maintain assets at a target level of service over their life cycle in the most efficient manner possible, while supporting agency goals and objectives. This section of the TAMP should describe the treatments the agency typically performs on its assets, and detail the analytical approaches it uses to assess investment needs, prioritize work, and predict future asset conditions. If the agency has implemented specific management systems for one or more of its asset classes, such as pavement, bridge or enterprise asset management systems, this section should describe those systems and how they are used to support decision making. Chapter 4 of this document provides further detail on life cycle planning.
Predicted Asset Condition
This section of the TAMP should describe how an agency’s assets are predicted to perform in the future. The horizon of the predictions should be commensurate with the horizon in the investment plan described in the next section. Typically the planning horizon is at least four years, but may be up to 20 years.
This sections should show what conditions are predicted given expected funding, as well as any gaps between predicted performance and the agency’s goals for its assets. This section may include results for multiple funding scenarios, particularly if there is uncertainty concerning future funding, or if including results for multiple scenarios helps document the process used to prioritize funding. For instance, the document might show predicted asset conditions over time given the current funding level, predicted future funding, and scenarios with more or less funding than the predicted level.
The TAMP should detail planned investments given expected funding. Depending upon the agency size and assets included in the plan, the document might include specific investments the agency plans to make or projected funding levels by asset class and type of work. This section may provide additional details on sources of funding, and the agency’s specific strategy for investing in its assets considering available resources.
Managing transportation assets also entails managing risk. Considering risk is important in developing a TAMP, for the simple reason that there are various risks that, if they occur, may impact an agency’s ability to follow its TAMP. For instance, the occurrence of a natural hazard may require an agency to spend significant resources in response, to address or mitigate damage. Employing risk management strengthens asset management programs by explicitly recognizing that any objective faces uncertainty, and identifying strategies to reduce that uncertainty and its effects. This section of the TAMP should describe the agency’s approach to risk management. It should identify major TAM-related risks and describe the agency’s approach to addressing these.
To ensure alignment with the requirements of MAP-21, Colorado DOT developed a requirements checklist that provides a quick reference/summary of the legislation requirements. The checklist is based on FHWA guidance (Transportation Asset Management Plan Annual Consistency Determination Final Guidance) that was issued in February, 2018. Its content was provided to help DOTs ensure their TAMPs are compliant and consistent with statute and regulatory requirements.
Source: FHWA. Transportation Asset Management Plan Annual Consistency Determination Final Guidance. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/asset/guidance/consistency.pdf
Beyond the Basic TAMP
This section contains suggestions for developing a TAMP that goes beyond the basic elements of a TAMP described in the previous section. An agency can expand the scope of the TAMP to include additional asset types and systems. An agency may further tailor their TAMP to address specific needs.
A highway agency focused on complying with Federal requirements will typically focus on including its NHS pavements and bridges in its TAMP. While these assets make up the greatest portion of a typical state highway agency, an agency may wish to include additional assets in its TAMP. Also, the agency may wish to extend the network scope of the TAMP. In updating a TAMP with NHS pavement and bridges, an agency may include other assets, such as drainage assets, traffic and safety features, or the agency may wish to include all of the assets it owns.
For transit TAMPs, the initial focus is on revenue vehicles, facilities and infrastructure, as these are the assets that require the greatest investment. An agency may wish to expand its TAMP to include additional assets that are important to the systems, albeit less costly, such as bus shelters and signage.
TAM Implementation Plan
As described in Section 2.3, it is often helpful to prepare an implementation plan describing a set of planned business process improvements that an agency intends to undertake to strengthen its approach to TAM. There are many examples of TAMPs that focus specifically on an agency’s TAM approach and how it plans to improve its approach. Ideally a TAMP should both describe an agency’s assets and planned investments, and detail how it intends to improve its TAM approach. Where an agency has developed both a TAMP and TAM implementation plan, the implementation plan can be incorporated as a section of the TAMP.
TAM-Related Business Processes
An agency may wish to include a discussion of one or more of the business processes related to TAM in its TAMP. Alternatively, there may be other agency documents that provide more detail on these issues that can be referenced in the TAMP. These areas include:
- Performance Targets. As described in Chapter 5, setting performance targets can help guide the resource allocation process. However, agencies often have broader efforts to establish and track performance beyond the scope of TAM.
- Financial Planning. While developing a TAM investment plan is central to developing a TAMP, often the revenue forecast used to support developing the investment plan is developed separately and used for other purposes beyond the scope of TAM. It may be valuable to document the agency’s approach to forecasting future revenues for TAM and other applications. Chapter 5 describes provides additional detail on this topic.
- Work Planning and Delivery. As described in Chapters 4 and 5, work delivery approaches can impact how assets are maintained over their life cycle, and how resource allocation decisions are made. Some agencies have adopted formalized approaches for evaluating and selecting different work delivery approaches.
- Data Management. Chapter 7 discusses the importance of implementing an approach to data management and governance. Some TAMPs include additional information on this topic given its relationship to TAM.
AASHTO TAMP Builder
The AASHTO TAMP Builder website (available at https://www.tamptemplate.org/) hosts annotated plan outlines to assist agencies in preparing TAMPs. The site also provides resources to customize an outline in order to meet agency-specific objectives and requirements. The website integrates a database of TAMPs, dating from 2005, that support the functionality of the outlines created using the site.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Figure 3.2 TAM Organizational Models
Considerations in making the choice on the home for TAM.
Integrating All Planning
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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 Component||Example TAM Roles and Responsibilities|
|Asset Inventory and Condition||Data 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 Forecasts||State 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
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 Planning||State 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 Management||State 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 Management||The 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 Strategies||The 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 Improvements||The TAM unit uses a workshop to bring together all stakeholders to develop and prioritize TAM improvement initiatives.|
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.
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
|Executive||Planning||Engineering||Maintenance & Operations|
|Asset Data Steward|
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.
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.
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.