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35 BENEFITS OF PROCESS INTEGRATION The case study examination revealed common benefits realized by agencies that were able to successfully integrate new or changed processes. Travel time reliability was the primary benefit sought by the research team, although few agencies have actually inte- grated reliability as a formal measure. Elements that contribute to reliability, including reduced delay, improved incident response times, improved event egress, and others, were tangible benefits that were recognized to have important links with overall travel reliability. Additional benefits included increased efficiency in use of staff, saving of financial and staff resources as a result of improved cooperation and reduced capital expenditures, and increased scalability and flexibility of systems. Process integration can allow agencies to plan for a system that can be implemented in a scalable format, with growth commensurate with needs. By integrating agencies and processes early in the planning process, agencies are less likely to miss opportunities for integration of fu- ture processes and more likely to build systems that can expand to meet future needs. For any process to remain beneficial, it should be developed in such a way that it allows for innovation or some level of flexibility to integrate with established pro- cesses or institutional cultures. Processes that are not flexible and remain static may be effective initially in improving travel time reliability, but as travel conditions, travel patterns, and other factors that affect reliability change over time, a static process may lose its effectiveness and impact. Case studies where processes have successfully been integrated for a number of years often indicate that the processes changed, expanded, or evolved over time to meet ever-changing challenges faced by the agencies in deliver- ing reliable transportation systems. 5 PROCESS INTEGRATION BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES
36 GUIDE TO INTEGRATING BUSINESS PROCESSES TO IMPROVE TRAVEL TIME RELIABILITY OBSTACLES TO PROCESS INTEGRATION Regardless of how an integrated process is influenced, nearly all the agencies involved in the study encounter similar obstacles and challenges when they begin to evaluate, implement, and further modify a process. Some of the obstacles can be overcome through modifications to operational processes or approaches. Many of the most chal- lenging (and yet effective) process endeavors, however, require changes at the institu- tional level; such changes pose challenges for adopting, implementing, and integrating a new or expanded business process. When more than one institution is involved, such as a transportation department and a police or public safety agency, institutional changes tend to become even more complicated. An overarching challenge is that reliability is not yet part of the common opera- tions lexicon, even among departments of transportation. Only a few agencies have formally adopted a reliability focus, although many transportation operations agen- cies would likely agree that reducing congestion, improving response to congested con- ditions, and maintaining reliable travel times are among their core objectives. Mobility and safety are much more tangible and recognizable to operations-focused staff and agency managerial staff. A further challenge is that reliability does not easily trans- late to a maintenance division, a law enforcement agency, or an adjacent jurisdiction. Adopting a formal reliability focus, with an emphasis on the core components that make up reliability (such as response times, reducing delay caused by incidents, more efficient responses to weather hazards, or improved detours to support work zones), can greatly help in articulating how multiple business processes can support a broader reliability-focused objective. Only then can partners begin to assess process change and integration through their links to a larger reliability goal. A number of other common obstacles to process integration were identified. For instance, departments of transportation are historically construction and mainte- nance focused and not operations focused. Agencies must clearly identify benefits of improved operations and reliability to get support for process change. Another issue is that, although reliability is emerging as an important metric among agencies, that new level of importance does not often translate into new or changed business processes. Agencies need to show a line between a process and its impact on reliability. This can be achieved through performance monitoring and reporting and by articulating benefits that have been achieved, such as safety, reduced crashes, improved response times, resource efficiency, or other metrics. Building support and recognition of the positive impacts will help to foster greater awareness of agency efforts among management, elected officials, and the public, which will in turn lead to further sup- port for more improvements. Then there is a range of agency stakeholders or partners that often contribute to reliability-focused strategies, and each will likely have a different motivation and approach to process implementation and process change. Furthermore, processes will evolve within divisions or agencies at a varying pace, so aligning processes to sup- port a larger objective is not always easily instituted. The challenge is showing how An overarching challenge is that reliability is not yet part of the common operations lexicon, even among departments of transportation.
37 GUIDE TO INTEGRATING BUSINESS PROCESSES TO IMPROVE TRAVEL TIME RELIABILITY improving transportation reliability will benefit all agencies that need to be involved in process change. Another significant challenge to integrating processes is that agencies may have different goals and objectives. Although a transportation agency might be focused on mobility or reliability, law enforcement and emergency response may be operating under different goals and objectives. For example, although incident clearance time may be identified as an important goal for both, the individual agency procedures may not be well aligned, so the transportation system overall fails to see as many benefits as it otherwise would. Finally, detailed process modeling is typically not done by transportation agencies before, during, or after process integration. The lack of documentation can make it challenging for any one agency to identify critical gaps or breakdowns within specific processes, and the final processes that are established may not be fully documented. Improving documentation practices can lead to more efficient and effective processes and policies. ALIGNING WITH OTHER INSTITUTIONALIZED PROCESSES Institutionalizing processes is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of imple- menting reliability-focused processes. Integrating processes across different opera- tional divisions or agencies, as well as solidifying support for that integration, can be difficult to articulate and accomplish. Current planning and programming activities offer many opportunities to iden- tify important integration opportunities or gaps, as well as opportunities to articulate the need for integrating reliability-focused processes. Applying the process integration steps into other planning activities will provide even more opportunities to improve processes and take advantage of existing planning efforts that involve multiple agen- cies and key stakeholders. Table 5.1 identifies three operations-focused planning efforts that can be used to identify opportunities for process integration. These are examples of processes that are already institutionalized, to varying degrees, within many transportation agen- cies. Each of these planning efforts brings together multiple stakeholders and involves a close review of current operations related to areas that affect reliability, such as incident management, traffic operations, and congestion management. They demon- strate the link between assessing business processes and integrating this approach with already established planning efforts. Institutionalizing processes is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of implementing reliability-focused processes.
38 GUIDE TO INTEGRATING BUSINESS PROCESSES TO IMPROVE TRAVEL TIME RELIABILITY TABLE 5.1. OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALIGNING WITH OTHER OPERATIONS-FOCUSED PLANNING EFFORTS Planning Efforts Regional ITS Architectures Concepts of Operations Congestion Management Process Relationship to Reliability-Focused Business Processes â¢ Identification of existing and development of desired operational concepts of processes related to reliability â¢ Identification of all relevant stakeholder agencies involved in operations â¢ Identification of specific functional connections between systems and agencies â¢ Opportunity for development of agency agreements, such as to share infrastructure, share data, or collaborate on operational activities â¢ Development of operational activities, goals, and outcomes â¢ Identification of current and future roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders â¢ Development of congestion management objectives â¢ Development of performance measures â¢ Identification and evaluation of strategies for congestion management Level of Adoption and Federal Requirements Widely adopted: Required in regions deploying ITS. There is a set of requirements established for what an ITS architecture needs to capture, so there will be consistency in how ITS architectures are developed from region to region. Gaining widespread adoption: Not yet required. Widely adopted: Required as part of the metropolitan planning process in transportation management areas. Likely led by organizations that, by nature, have interest in multiple operations. Opportunities for Process Integration Development of operational concepts and integration of multiple systems that affect travel reliability Development of concepts of operations including operations that directly affect reliability Development, implementation, and evaluation of strategies to reduce congestion