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21 Monitor Results Finally, respondents were skeptical of the ability of ana- lytical tools to contribute to an inherently complex, multi- Monitoring actual project costs and effectiveness to pro- dimensional, and highly political process. vide feedback into management systems. All of the 10 states felt that monitoring actual project costs and effectiveness was an important capability to be improved; one state gave this a Key Ingredients for Successful Tool Implementation low rating because representatives felt this capability should and Use be integral to existing management and tracking systems in a state rather than provided as part of a new tool. For successful tool implementation and use, agencies must have a well-defined asset management business process that depends on good quality information and analysis results and Preferences for Implementation Platforms tools specifically tailored to answering the right questions. Of course, using the tool is an essential part of the process. Table 5 summarizes respondents' preferences for specific There must be an evolutionary process to tailor modeling implementation platforms for new analytical tools. In gen- procedures and parameters to specific agency conditions. This eral, the most negative comments were for development of a process results in buy-in and ownership among agency staff. stand-alone spreadsheet or GIS-based tool. These comments The agency must have an organizational culture that val- reflected the desire to pursue an integrated approach to new ues and encourages the use of technical analysis. asset management tools. A web-based tool or a plug-in mod- The agency must designate or hire a technical champion(s) ule for integration with existing systems was generally con- who has a complete, in-depth understanding of the tool and sidered acceptable platforms. A couple of states noted that how it can be applied to answer different types of questions. the tool must be compatible with a client/server architecture. This champion would educate users and listen and respond Four of the ten states felt that the product of this NCHRP to the needs of the user community through ongoing tool project should be operating software (at least in prototype enhancements and/or specialized analyses. form) as opposed to a guideline or specification alone. 2.5 EXPLORATORY DISCUSSIONS Key Factors Affecting Success Thirty-eight participants (representing the FHWA, Respondents identified several barriers to and ingredients AASHTO, NCHRP, NHI, 12 states, 1 province, and 2 uni- for the successful implementation of analytical tools. versities) attended the NHI Pilot Training Course on Asset Management that was held in Lansing, Michigan, on June 25 and 26, 2002. As part of the course discussions, the partici- Barriers to Successful Tool Implementation pants were asked, "What are the top two asset management and Use decisions that you need better analytic tools to address?" Some of the responses are included the following paragraphs. Agencies may lack time for staff to learn, upgrade, and A representative from the Vermont Agency of Transpor- maintain new tools. Additionally, staff turnover coupled with tation (VTrans) indicated that the agency had sufficient tools the infrequent use of many tools require new tools to be easy with which to manage pavements, bridges, and maintenance to use and have a self-explanatory interface. activities. VTrans is interested in tools that would enable Another barrier to successful tool implementation is the staff to analyze other modes (e.g., transit, airports, pedestrian need for vertical and horizontal integration of data and paths, rails). tools. Developing an integrated approach to the use of data A representative from the Pennsylvania DOT suggested and tools across organizational units with different require- the need for a tool that would enable agencies to evaluate the ments, applied to the same domain, is challenging. Tools impact of a project or group of projects on system perfor- are typically designed and implemented with a particular user mance (e.g., if an agency spends $10 million on security proj- group's needs in mind. Efforts to simultaneously satisfy mul- ects, what will be the impact on the performance of the pave- tiple groups and business processes within an organization ment network?). require skillful direction and frequently get bogged down. A representative from the Montana DOT indicated that a Data are not available for input into the systems. Even tool that analyzes tradeoffs between reactive and capital when sophisticated models are available, credible values for maintenance activities would be beneficial. model parameters are difficult to estimate based on docu- A representative from the Province of Ontario identified mented experience. the need for tools that (1) quantify user costs and benefits Agencies may be reluctant to trust new tools because their for preservation, operations, and maintenance activities and inner workings are overly complex and not well understood. (2) analyze tradeoffs among these three types of actions.
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22 An FHWA representative suggested that the biggest trans- generate the data required for existing tools. He also sug- portation issue today is costly congestion delays and that gested the need for more sketch-planning tools that are not intelligent transportation systems (ITS) were the key to mak- data intensive. ing progress in this area. He also added that agencies do not One participant identified the need for a tool that would need another ITS tool--they need more money so that they enable agencies to quantify the benefits of projects developed can implement existing technologies. to address common priority policy areas (e.g., mobility, safety, A representative from the University of Wisconsin sug- environment). Currently, agencies develop projects (e.g., traf- gested that existing analytic tools are too data hungry for fic calming improvements and sound walls) in response to widespread implementation by transportation agencies. He policy priorities but have no means for analyzing the success proposed that new tools be developed to help DOTs collect/ of these efforts in meeting their objectives.