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Improving Transportation Systems Management and Operations – Capability Maturity Model Workshop White Paper – Systems and Technology

1. TSM&O Capability Maturity Self-Assessment Program: General Background

Many State DOTs and regions have recognized the importance of more effective TSM&O to improving customer service and system performance. Best practice TSM&O is being developed as an integrated program to optimize the performance of existing multimodal infrastructure through implementation of systems, services, and projects to optimize capacity and improve the security, safety, and reliability of the transportation system.

1.1 TSM&O and the Capability Maturity Model

The Second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) included a Reliability Focus Area that produced research and products on many important data, analytic, and design issues, as well as process and applications improvements. One project identified the institutional characteristics of the agencies with the more effective TSM&O activities (Institutional Architectures to Improve Systems Operations and Management, SHRP 2 L06, 2012.). This research determined that agencies with the most effective TSM&O activities were differentiated not by budgets or technical skills alone, but by the existence of critical processes and institutional arrangements tailored to the unique features of TSM&O applications. These processes and institutional arrangements are defined by six critical dimensions: business processes; systems and technology; performance measurement; agency culture; organization and staffing; and collaboration.

Using these critical dimensions, the research project adapted concepts from the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) – widely used in the Information Technology industry – to develop a self-assessment framework designed to help transportation agencies identify their current strengths and weaknesses and related actions needed to improve their capabilities for effective TSM&O – in effect, a roadmap for “getting better at getting better.”

1.2 CMM Self-Assessment Workshops

The TSM&O CMM framework has been used as the basis for the development of a facilitated one-day self-assessment workshop process for State DOTs and regions. The CMM workshops are intended to improve the effectiveness of TSM&O applications and activities by assisting the unit managers and key technical staff with day-to-day oversight of TSM&O-related activities, as well as DOT partners, including public safety agencies, MPOs, local governments, and the private sector.

The workshop framework provides a structured focus on the six dimensions of capability, together with a facilitated self-assessment process in which participants evaluate their current activities and arrangements according to criteria from the CMM framework defining levels of capability. The current challenges and problems identified by workshop participants are used to identify actions needed to improve capability, which are subsequently embodied in an implementation plan to improve the effectiveness of TSM&O.

Senior agency leadership is involved in a pre-workshop briefing and their approval of the implementation plan is required as a precondition of Federal financial assistance for the SHRP 2 Implementation Assistance program sites.

1.3 The Capability Maturity Self-Assessment Framework

The CMM self-assessment framework is structured in terms of six dimensions of capability. Three dimensions are process oriented:

  • Business Processes, including planning, programming, and budgeting (resources);
  • Systems and Technology, including use of systems engineering, systems architecture standards, interoperability, and standardization; and
  • Performance Measurement, including measures definition, data acquisition, and utilization.

Three dimensions are institutional:

  • Culture, including technical understanding, leadership, outreach, and program legal authority;
  • Organization and Staffing, including programmatic status, organizational structure, staff development, and recruitment and retention; and
  • Collaboration, including relationships with public safety agencies, local governments, MPOs, and the private sector.

For each of these six dimensions, the self-assessment utilizes four criteria-based “levels” of capability maturity that indicate the direction of managed changes required to improve TSM&O effectiveness:

  • Level 1 – “Performed.” Activities and relationships largely ad hoc, informal, and champion driven, substantially outside the mainstream of other DOT activities.
  • Level 2 – “Managed.” Basic strategy applications understood; key processes’ support requirements identified and key technology and core capacities under development, but limited internal accountability and uneven alignment with external partners.
  • Level 3 – “Integrated.” Standardized strategy applications implemented in priority contexts and managed for performance; TSM&O technical and business processes developed, documented, and integrated into DOT; partnerships aligned.
  • Level 4 – “Optimizing.” TSM&O as full, sustainable core DOT program priority, established on the basis of continuous improvement with top-level management status and formal partnerships.

This structure of critical key dimensions of capabilities and their levels as self-assessed was used as the basis for the determination of the current state of the practice in the Systems and Technology dimension as discussed in the sections that follow.

1.4 CMM Self-Assessment Workshops Analyzed

This white paper synthesizes findings, as of December 2014, from 23 of 27 sites selected by FHWA and AASHTO in 2013 as part of the SHRP 2 Implementation Assistance Program. These 23, listed in Table 1.1, include 19 State DOTs (statewide or district focus) and four regional entities (including two MPOs) (For a detailed discussion of prior workshops and those selected for the SHRP 2 Implementation Assistance Program, see the Organizing for Reliability – Assessment and Implementation Plan Development Final Report.).

Table 1.1 Self-Assessment CMM Workshop Locations Analyzed in this White Paper
Arizona NOACA (Cleveland, OH)
California Ohio
Colorado Oregon
Florida District 5 (Orlando) Pennsylvania
Georgia Rhode Island
Iowa South Dakota
Kansas District 5 (Wichita) Tennessee
Maryland Utah
New Jersey Washington, D.C.
Michigan Washington State
Missouri Whatcom (Whatcom County, Washington)
NITTEC (Buffalo, New York) Empty cell.
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