Benchmarking and Improvement Selection

Benchmarking and Improvement Selection
Activity 4 – Self-Assessment

Complete self-assessment activities. Document the current and desired state of practice within the selected focus. Identify potential improvements that close performance gaps.

After the kickoff meeting has completed, organize and hold self-assessment meetings.

  1. Prior to the meeting:
    • Coordinate schedules and send meeting invites.
    • Communicate the Area(s) that will be the focus of individual meetings.
    • Identify Chapter 3 materials that should be reviewed prior to the meeting.
    • Encourage individual completion of element-level response templates prior to the meeting.
  2. During the meeting:
    • Use the TAM Data Assistant.
    • Navigate the assessment framework, facilitating benchmarking and improvement selection discussion.
    • Capture group consensus and any assessment or improvement specific notes and context.
  3. After the meeting:
    • Summarize and share meeting outcomes.
    • Identify action items or specific clarification or context that were requested during the meeting’s activities.

The TAM Data Assistant includes descriptions of each assessment element, practice benchmarks, and associated improvements. Printable versions of these descriptions are included in the form of Element-Level Response Templates in Appendices A-E. Assessment participants can use these to become familiar with the material before using the tool in a group setting.

Prior to completing an assessment, participants are encouraged to review the Area- and Section-specific guidance materials that follow. These materials provide context and examples that will help participants to understand the benchmark levels and their associated improvements.

Evaluate the current and desired state of agency practice against element-level practice benchmarks and select from potential improvements to close identified gaps.

Completing the Assessment

The following steps are recommended for individuals completing the assessment:

  1. Review the element-level response templates familiarize yourself with the material. You only need to look at those Areas/Sections that have been selected as relevant to your assessment.
  2. Read the guidance material for your selected Areas/Sections that follow in this chapter. This material will help you to understand the scope of each portion of the assessment.
  3. Work through the assessment prior to getting together with your team, either using the templates or the tool. This will allow you to think through the material in advance.
  4. Share your results at group assessment sessions and listen to what others have to say. Work towards a set of consensus results to characterize your current practice levels, your desired practice levels, and the improvements to be considered.
Understanding Benchmark Levels

You will be selecting a level from 0 to 4 for each of the assessment elements – first to represent your agency’s current practice, and second, to represent your agency’s target level. The general meaning of each benchmark level is described below. However, keep in mind that each assessment element has a tailored set of level descriptions.

Selecting Target Levels

Don’t assume that your target should be the highest possible level (4) for all of the assessment elements. You may currently be at a level 0 for an element because there is no particular benefit to advancing in that area. For example, it may not be cost-effective to collect data or do sophisticated analysis for an asset that has a very short life cycle and accounts for a small portion of your agency’s budget.

Keep in mind that the levels are defined in a way that assumes you must pass through each one – it isn’t possible to skip levels. This means that often the most reasonable target (if you want to advance) is the next level up from where you currently are. It is helpful to use a standard timeframe (e.g. 2-3 years) when setting target levels. The target level should be one that (1) is beneficial for your agency to reach and (2) one that is realistic to achieve within the target timeframe.

Selecting candidate Improvements

Candidate improvements are suggested for each benchmark level. These improvements are designed to move your agency from its current level to the next level up. Keep in mind that not all of these candidate improvements will be appropriate for your agency. You should feel free to tailor them to your situation – or create new candidate improvements that would help your agency advance from your current level to the next level up.

Area and Section Guidance

You can use the Area-based guidance to:

  • Understand the definition and scope of each assessment Area and Section;
  • Understand some of the issues and key decisions to be made when considering improvements related to each Section; and
  • Review conceptual examples of agency practice relevant to the Section.
Response Templates

Areas A through E provide paper response templates that can be used to complete self-assessment and improvement identification independently of the TAM Data Assistant digital tool. The paper templates are not recommended for full application of the guidebook, however they can be useful for individual preparation in advance of group self-assessment discussion.

Benchmark Levels
General Practice Level Descriptions
  1. Non-Existent:

    The DOT does not have any significant practices within this aspect of their business.

  2. Initial Steps:

    DOT practices are found, however these are characterized by ad-hoc or informal application and are not likely to be endorsed by management.

  3. Incremental Improvement:

    The DOT is beginning to see formalization of the processes and structures within this aspect of their business.

  4. Advanced Practice:

    The DOT is performing at a level at or above the standard of their peers.

  5. Top Performing:

    The DOT is a leading example of practice amongst their peers.

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