E.2 Project Planning, Scoping, and Design

E.2 – Project Planning, Scoping, and Design
Project Planning and Scoping

DOT policies often recommend (or even require) certain asset maintenance, repair, or replacement activities be incorporated within planned capital projects. These requirements are often based on existing field conditions; however DOTs often have limited formal tools to support informed decision-making.

Typically, simple checklists are developed to support these processes; however, DOTs should seek to improve scoping by integrating available asset inventory, condition, and performance information directly into project planning

Incorporation of Optimization and Prioritization Analysis

DOT asset management systems are often used to conduct network-level optimization analysis of potential investment strategies or treatment options (further detailed in Chapter 3, Area D support materials).

DOTs are often challenged to meaningfully incorporate outcomes from network-level TAM optimization analysis into project-level decision making. Policy, procedures, and tools are necessary to overcome these challenges, however these must be balanced with the reality that project-specific field conditions cannot fully accounted for in network-level analysis. Therefore, appropriate flexibility should be offered to field decision-makers.

Field Performance Verification

Monitor asset condition and performance after project delivery to validate actual versus predicted outcomes. If significant discrepancies are observed, determine if design or construction practices can be improved or if asset performance models should be adjusted. Continual monitoring and improvement improves design and construction practices, project-level decision-making, and network-level TAM analysis.

Important Terminology

The following terms are used within this Section.

Evidence-Based Design and Construction:

Use of a scientific methodology and statistical techniques to evaluate project design decisions and construction practices in order to achieve the best possible outcomes. Useful to TAM programs in identifying changes to design standards and processes supporting improved asset management and operations outcomes.

Project Scoping Templates:

Developed for common project types, these can be pre-populated with TAM analysis outcomes and asset inventory and condition information as the basis for field project scoping. These templates provide efficiencies in scoping activities and encourage investment decisions aligned with TAM priorities.

Conceptual Examples
TAM Analysis Incorporation in Project-Level Decision-Making
Treatment Selection Screening

Prescriptive decision-analysis techniques can be applied to individual assets or potential investment locations to establish acceptable treatment categories.  These are very useful in preventive maintenance scoping, where certain field conditions may be known to result in low performance benefits (e.g. application of preventive maintenance seal coats to pavements exhibiting fatigue or “alligator” cracking).

Network-Level “Best Mix of Fixes”

Predictive modeling and analytics can provide optimized TAM investment strategies.  Rather than applying these directly to the specific locations selected in the analysis (based on network-level information), aggregate outcomes by treatment or activity type.  Then, communicate these as investment targets to field decision-makers, allowing field selection of the specific locations and detailed TAM treatments or activities. 

This approach balances optimal strategies with field realities that are not accounted for in the network-level analysis.  This can also be paired with treatment selection screening to ensure field selected treatments are appropriate to the specific locations selected.