Selecting a Focus

Selecting a Focus
Activity 1 – Initial Scoping

Focus for the process is selected and target participants are identified.

The project sponsor and assessment facilitator should establish a specific scope (or focus) for improvement. The focus should be identified using the following guidance and the known needs and priorities of the agency, sponsoring business or technical area.

Many DOTs will want to use this guidance to improve a targeted asset program. In this application, a DOT can evaluate and improve how data is defined, collected, accessed, analyzed, and used in that asset program’s decision making processes.

DOTs may also target a specific data life-cycle area to identify improvements benefiting the TAM program (or enterprise) at large.

It is not advisable to undertake assessment of multiple data lifecycle areas without narrowing the focus to an individual asset program. With such a broad scope, achieving meaningful results is impractical at best.

Asset-Specific Focus

Improve outcomes or prepare for a major system or business process change within a specific asset program. Bring together diverse, informed perspectives in a well-documented discussion of asset related needs and possible improvements to maximize the value of this effort. Central office program management and analysts, district decision-makers, field staff, and other key stakeholders should be involved to raise awareness of key contexts and challenges faced across the program and identify meaningful improvements.

Area-Specific Focus

Improve data and information systems, tools, practices, and techniques within a given data life-cycle area, advancing related TAM program capabilities. Achieve desired results by including asset management staff and business system owners, as well as information technology and business support staff.

Asset-Specific Focus
Anticipated Value by Data Life-Cycle Area
Specify and Standardize Data Standardize Data and Information Meaning and Use
  • Identify where existing asset data standards are not serving the needs of various stakeholders.
  • Examine how location referencing and design file standards are inconsistently applied between various asset systems and processes.
  • Raise awareness of resource allocation and decision-making values and criteria, identifying inconsistencies between field, central office, and executive values.
  • Improve understanding and involvement in metadata- and governance-related activities.
Collect Data Deliver Asset Data Collection Needs, Improve Data Quality and Generate Efficiencies
  • Identify asset data collection needs, technologies, or efficiencies within the asset program.
  • Examine field based tools and systems to collect needed project and maintenance information.
  • Capture public perception and decision-maker values to inform asset priorities and decisions.
Store, Integrate, and Access Data Increase Data Access and Integration within the Asset Program
  • Evaluate database tools and structures to ensure data is stored and accessed efficiently and able to be integrated across various asset life-cycle systems and workflows.
  • Examine other data sources (such as revenue, budget, expenditure, demand, utilization, or environmental information) needed to improve asset decision-making.
  • Explore field data access needs, public data access needs, and data access security considerations.
Analyze Data Advance Analytical and Reporting Capabilities Supporting Asset Decision-Making
  • Evaluate TAM analysis capabilities, including improved tools, practices, and environments.
  • Identify methods to improve asset performance prediction, optimization, and prioritization models.
Act Informed by Data Improve Asset Management Decision Quality and Outcomes
  • Consider methods to integrate data into network-level resource allocation and prioritization decisions; project planning, scoping, and design; and infrastructure and equipment maintenance.

Area-Specific Focus
Anticipated Value by Data Life-Cycle Area
Specify and Standardize Data
  • Advance and standardize asset related data models, including location referencing, resource allocation, and project design standards.
  • Define and implement enterprise metadata and governance programs.
Collect Data
  • Streamline collection of asset and project data through standardized tools and multi-purpose collection programs.
  • Capture public opinion and decision-maker values to support cross-asset and/or cross-program investment prioritization.
Store, Integrate, and Access Data
  • Explore cross-functional data integration initiatives and examine enterprise data and information system solutions.
  • Increase internal and external stakeholder access through TAM related data warehouses and dashboards.
Analyze Data
  • Develop advanced, cross-asset resource allocation or multi-objective project selection systems, processes, or tools.
  • Provide enterprise business intelligence and/or analysis solutions meeting TAM program needs.
Act Informed by Data
  • Establish enterprise performance targeting and project prioritization programs.
  • Advance data-driven, project-level design and scoping decisions.
  • Improve agency infrastructure and equipment maintenance practices.

Activity 2 – Participant Engagement

Targeted participants are informed of the need and value of their involvement. Assessment team membership is finalized.

Once a focus is selected, the facilitator must identify the desired membership of the assessment team with the input of the project sponsor.

  1. Invite targeted participants to a preliminary engagement meeting.
  2. Deliver a preliminary engagement meeting to share details of the commitment, answer questions, and identify any additional recommendations for team membership
  3. Secure commitment from the participants, for the full process, including potential implementation support.

Additional Supporting Guidance:

At the preliminary engagement meeting the facilitator should:

  • Communicate the specific nature of the planned assessment activities and an expectation for the level of effort involved.
  • Identify the targeted focus area and anticipated value of improvements.
  • Answer questions from the targeted participants (including how and why they were identified for involvement).
  • Secure participant commitment and identify any additional recommendations for involvement.
  • Make participants aware that they may also be asked to assist with implementation (for example, by supporting business or IT requirements development or by advocating for priority improvements impacting their business or technical area.

Before holding the preliminary meeting, the facilitator should be familiar with the guidebook process and general organization.  It is important the facilitator can clearly discuss the identified need or motivation, as well as the specific process that will be followed by the team.

The facilitator should encourage any questions and discussion that might develop over the course of the meeting and also ask if any additional participants are recommended for inclusion in the team (noting that additional perspectives are always valuable, however the size of the group should be managed to allow for maximum engagement from all participants).

A diverse set of perspectives are needed to examine current and desired capabilities and identify targeted improvements.

A cross functional team should be formed and led by a knowledgeable, trusted, and respected facilitator. Participants should be selectively targeted for their background, ability to constructively participate in the focused discussion, and position to advance the anticipated outcomes of the process.

Recommended participants and their respective responsibilities are shared below.

Project Sponsor

It is strongly recommended that a “project sponsor” be identified for any formal application of this guidance.

The project sponsor should have decision-making authority, be willing to be engaged throughout the process, and share enthusiasm for improving within the focus area.

The project sponsor should:

  1. Provide Leadership: Provide executive or management level endorsement and support for the assessment and recommended improvements.
  2. Select a Facilitator: Appoint an assessment facilitator to organize, communicate and manage the process and detailed activities.
  3. Be a Champion: Engage with leadership and management to ensure enthusiasm and cross-functional participation by targeted business, information technology, and support units.

Assessment Facilitator

It is essential that an assessment facilitator leads and organizes selfassessment, improvement identification, and improvement evaluation activities. A good candidate for this role is organized, empathetic to the diverse perspectives of the participants, and able to command the attention and respect of the group.

Ideally, this individual should be knowledgeable about the DOT asset management program and supporting data and information systems. The facilitator should also not have a particular agenda or bias with respect to the outcome or conclusions of the group (their role or perspective would not be seen as inherently favoring certain assets or data areas).

The ideal candidate for such a role is a program or project manager from the enterprise asset management, business process improvement, or other such program. Use a qualified, external consultant if candidate agency staff are not able to dedicate the time necessary to prepare, facilitate, document, and summarize the results of the process.

Key responsibilities of the assessment facilitator are:

  1. Assessment Scoping:
    • Establish the assessment focus with the Project Sponsor.
  2. Participant Selection:
    • Identify and engage targeted participants in the process
  3. Participant Preparation:
    • Share context and direction throughout the process.
    • Ensure expectations are clear and individuals are adequately prepared to constructively participate.
  4. Group Facilitation:
    • Organize meeting attendance and provide direction to meeting activities.
    • Ensure productive discussion and full participation.
    • Document key meeting outcomes.
    • Provide summary materials for group review and preparation in advance of future meetings or activities.
    • Utilize the TAM Data Assistant to capture group consensus during assessment, improvement identification, and improvement evaluation activities.
  5. Assessment Leadership:
    • Capture group consensus on current and desired state and selected improvements.
    • Document supporting contexts and takeaways from the assessment meetings.
    • Delegate action items (e.g. gaps in understanding that need to be closed by targeted participants).
  6. Improvement Evaluation Leadership:
    • Review practice gaps, assessment notes, and consider organizational needs, challenges, and context.
    • Ask questions that support informed discussion of agency improvement priorities.
    • Prepare supporting materials (such as “radar” charts).
    • Capture group consensus on improvement challenges, impact and effort, and priority.
    • Consider when “reassessment” is needed to refine the assessed current or desired state, or to identify additional or remove previously selected improvements.
  7. Results Summary:
    • Summarize outcomes for implementation action.
    • Present improvement priorities for executive endorsement and action.
  8. Implementation Support:
    • Work with the project sponsor and other participants to advocate for implementation.
    • Seek funding opportunities.
    • Lead efforts to incorporate recommendations into the agency technology, business, and/or process improvement plans, initiatives, and actions.

Asset Program Leads

Program leads from within the selected TAM focus area, or who rely upon the data and information systems within the identified data-lifecycle area are critical participants within the process.

These are typically central office program management, project managers, analysts, or engineers who understand asset management decision-making needs from a statewide and policy perspective. These individuals should also be able to discuss organizational challenges posed by substantial data, information system, or business process change.

A typical team includes:

  • Several such individuals, spanning key asset and/or program areas.
  • At least one Program Lead who is able to share executive management perspectives.

Field Asset Management Leads

District asset managers, engineers, or maintenance supervisors who are involved in day-to-day field asset management decision-making and execution. These staff must share the practical realities, challenges, priorities, and constraints of field asset management staff.

A typical team should include several of these individuals with differing perspectives. A district management perspective is necessary, as well as project-level decision-making and boots-on-the-ground field perspectives.

Information Technology (IT) Management and Staff

Key IT staff, particularly those who have an understanding of existing technologies, applications, and priorities within the targeted area. This may include IT relationship managers (those engaged with or integrated with key business units or applications), system administrators, project managers, or business or technical analysts.

IT staff should be prepared to share data, technology, or application related context and perspective as business needs or capabilities are discussed. These individuals should identify technology solutions from other agency business functions which may be useful to the TAM program.

During improvement evaluation, IT staff should share the technical process, challenges, and constraints anticipated when delivering IT solutions.

Data Life-Cycle Area Subject Matter Experts

As appropriate to the asset program, or when focusing on specific data life-cycle areas, other key perspectives should be represented. For example:

  • Specify and Standardize Data: Computer aided design and drafting (CADD) and location referencing system (LRS) managers and technical experts, metadata and governance leadership or staff.
  • Collect Data: Statewide data collection (e.g. LiDAR or imagebased vehicle collection), geographic information system (GIS) program, and/or mobile data collection program managers.
  • Store, Integrate, and Access Data: Data warehouse and GIS program managers and technical experts, business, data and/or enterprise architecture staff.
  • Analyze Data: Business intelligence, data analysis/science program managers or staff.
  • Act Informed by Data: Performance management or performance dashboard staff, capital, operations, and maintenance program budgeting, and/or field project and construction managers.

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