Improving Transportation Systems Management and Operations and fostering more reliable travel times through business and organizational solutions.
Organizing for Reliability Tools
Building new transportation facilities to address growth and congestion has become increasingly difficult due to financial and space constraints. Agencies have a growing need to manage and operate the transportation network as effectively as possible to meet customers’ demands for safety, mobility, and reliability. The use of performance measures, systems, and services to manage and operate the transportation system can improve safety, increase efficiency, and reduce the cost of congestion. This growing discipline, called transportation systems management and operations (TSM&O), is particularly important in addressing congestion related to unpredictable or non-recurring events, such as inclement weather or crashes, which account for more than half of all congestion, increase safety risks, and create costly disruptions to travelers' plans.
Agencies are looking for ways to assess and strengthen their TSM&O capabilities. SHRP2 research showed that implementing organizational and business process changes that build or enhance the TSM&O support structure can significantly improve the predictability of travel times.
Organizing for Reliability Tools is a set of tools that helps agencies assess their TSM&O programs and implement changes to technical and business processes in order to enhance the ability to manage unexpected congestion. This bundle of products includes:
This solution offers a capability maturity model (CMM) framework that agencies use to conduct a detailed organizational self-assessment to identify ways to systematically improve their TSM&O capabilities. What began as a report and guide now includes facilitated workshops, an online self-assessment tool, and outreach materials. This product also provides a framework for using many other reliability-related SHRP2 Solutions.
This guide and report demonstrate how agencies can successfully change business processes to support improved systems management and operations. SHRP2 is currently developing web-based version of the guide that will provide customized recommendations based user-provided input about its scenario. The solution will also include workshops that will help agencies apply the CMM process to a specific business process area, such as traffic incident management or managing work zones.
With this bundle of SHRP2 Reliability solutions, agencies can evaluate their current organizational ability for TSM&O and then determine what steps to take to improve. Improved operations can lead to fewer crashes, less congestion and associated fuel consumption, and improved travel-time reliability.
Guide to Organizing Transportation Agencies to Advance Systems Operations and Management (L06)
In recent years, transportation agencies have moved toward addressing congestion by focusing on effectively operating highway systems as coordinated networks using transportation systems management and operations (TSM&O). Traditional construction and maintenance solutions to congestion require increasingly limited resources, including money, time, and physical space. TSM&O strategies help agencies utilize existing capacity that can lead to safer roads and more reliable travel times for drivers.
However, an agency's ability to apply TSM&O strategies is not primarily related to technology or understanding of best practice. Reaching full potential requires that supportive business processes and institutional arrangements be put in place, monitored, and managed—just as is typically done for the other core transportation programs, such as construction and maintenance.
The second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) has developed the Guide to Organizing Transportation Agencies to Advance Systems Operations and Management. The solution includes a guide that examines how transportation agencies should be organized to successfully execute operations programs and a related research report that provides additional background.
The guide describes a capability maturity model (CMM) framework that helps agencies assess current TSM&O capabilities and create an action plan to systematically improve. During a focused workshop, State and local transportation agencies and their partners can use the capability framework to assess of their existing operations. The framework identifies the elements needed to continually improve, one level at a time, along six dimensions of organizational capability: business processes, systems and technology, performance management, culture, organization and workforce, and collaboration.
Participants in these workshops evaluate of the strengths and weaknesses of the six dimensions, which enables the agency to assess the effectiveness of its TSM&O programs, as well as identify the features associated with effective programs. The workshops include an analysis of TSM&O activities from the standpoint of relationships and interactions among staff, required technical and business processes, and supportive institutional and organizational arrangements.
Following the self-assessment workshop, the agency develops an implementation plan, identifying specific actions, with the goal of elevating the agency’s capabilities for TSM&O and ultimately improving travel-time reliability and the efficiency of their transportation system.
An online version of the CMM framework is also available, at www.aashtosomguidance.org.
To support agencies in conducting the assessment and applying the results, FHWA has created additional implementation aids. A primer document provides a brief overview of the process for applying the capability framework. A prep kit provides information and tips to help in preparing for an effective assessment, such as methods for selecting possible workshop participants. A tool kit provides examples of actions an agency could consider including in their implementation plan and resources, such as training, that can help them accomplish those actions. These additional materials will be available soon.
SHRP2 has also developed outreach materials tailored for DOT and MPO leadership (project L31) that can help gain support for TSM&O efforts. These materials include an adaptable PowerPoint presentation and an accompanying presentation guide focused on educating chief executive officers (CEOs) and senior managers of State DOTs about the value of mainstreaming TSM&O as a core mission, business practice, and investment priority. A similar presentation and accompanying presentation guide are tailored for CEOs and senior managers of MPOs and to the MPO’s board members about the value of mainstreaming TSM&O as a core component and investment priority in the regional transportation planning process.
Evaluating capabilities and making essential improvements to underlying supportive institutional structures and business processes moves an agency closer to organizational excellence. This will enable an agency or State DOT to successfully execute programs that effectively manage and reduce congestion and improve reliability.
Who is using this product?
Already, more than 35 transportation agencies—including State DOTs, MPOs, and regional/corridor coalitions—are using the CMM framework and related tools to help improve TSM&O and the reliability of their highway systems.
Guide to Integrating Business Processes to Improve Travel-Time Reliability (L01)
Nonrecurring congestion, caused by weather, crashes, work zones, and special events, creates more than half of all motorist delay. Transportation agencies are looking for better ways to manage traffic operations and leverage existing capacity to make the highway system more reliable and reduce the cost of congestion for drivers, freight operators, and other users.
As a result, more and more agencies are exploring transportation systems management and operations (TSM&O), a cross-cutting discipline that engages multiple divisions within a State or local department of transportation (DOT), as well as other transportation, enforcement, and emergency services agencies within a region, to support effective use of existing transportation facilities.
SHRP2 research found that these operational activities are closely connected to core business processes, such as planning, programming, project development, and training, but making the right changes to these areas can be difficult without the right guidance.
One of the most effective ways to implement a change is to learn from those who have already done it. The second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) has developed a guide and a report that compiles best practices to help transportation agencies change their business practices to strengthen systems operations, address nonrecurring traffic congestion, and improve travel-time reliability. The materials enable agencies to identify staff skill sets; provide staff training; and establish operation guidelines, standard procedures, and protocols, incorporating them into agency polices, vision, mission, goals, and objectives.
The guide includes a step-by-step methodology that managers can follow to identify and integrate operational and programmatic processes to improve the operation and reliability of the highway network for its users. Examples of steps within the methodology include defining specific reliability goals and objectives, developing outcome-based performance measures that are designed to provide decision makers with information regarding reliability of the highways, documenting current business processes, and implementing policy changes that have a direct impact on improved operations. The guide also provides recommendations for documenting and institutionalizing these process changes after implementation.
A key component of the guide is instructions for applying Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) to an agency's business processes. BPMN is an approach developed by the IBM Corporation, to map and analyze transportation business processes in simple terms using straightforward graphical illustration.
The accompanying research report is based on a series of case studies that document business practices that successfully support TSM&O tactics.
An E-Tool for Integrating Business Processes for Systems Operations (project L34) that will present the guide's recommendations in a web‐based format is being developed. The e-tool will enable a user to input a variety of scenarios, describe the desired outcomes, and receive recommended solutions to re‐engineer day‐to‐day business practices. Using the software, agencies will be able to "map" their current practices and compare them to optimal practices that could maximize the agency's operations success.
A series of workshops will be available in early 2015 to further support business process changes and recommendations from the guide. The workshops will help States understand the importance of these changes and will incorporate the e-tool to facilitate business process improvement. The workshops will also apply a capability maturity modeling (CMM) framework process to specific areas: traffic management, traffic incident management, work zones, special events, road weather, and arterial signal systems. Additional information about the workshops and specific CMM frameworks is coming soon. To learn more, contact a product lead listed in the Contact section of this page (at left).
A State DOT or other transportation agency can use these tools to evaluate the effectiveness of its business processes in supporting highway operations and identify ways to change the organization into one that is better equipped to deliver effective transportation systems management and operations.