ACB Guidebook • Chapter 3
3. Strategies

This chapter provides a guide to common methodologies, practices, and approaches used to build agency capabilities.
Strategies Introduction

Strategies are the third element of the ACB framework. They are the means by which transportation agencies can strengthen their capabilities to respond to change forces. A given strategy may involve people, process and/or technology components.

The strategies covered in this chapter are major topics in management science and a wealth of resources about them is readily available. This chapter provides a brief overview of each strategy and includes an illustrative practice example. References with additional information can be found at the end of this report.

Capability-building is an ongoing process and agencies vary with respect to their maturity levels. Organizations at lower levels of maturity may not be able to employ the same strategies as those at higher levels of maturity because they have a bigger gap to close to get where they want or need to be. Each agency can develop a roadmap with appropriate strategies for closing gaps.

Organizational Management

Organizational management is a mechanism for building an efficient and effective organization through the optimal use of its assets and resources.

What is Organizational Management?

A well-run transportation agency depends on an organizational structure that supports effective operation and has processes in place to address any gaps limiting its efficiency. Organizational management strategies strive to achieve organizational excellence. Organizational excellence is “the ongoing efforts to establish an internal framework of standards and processes intended to engage and motivate employees to deliver products and services that fulfill customer requirements within business expectations. It is the achievement by an organization of consistent superior performance—for example, outputs that exceed meeting objectives, needs, or expectations.”1

Organizational management includes: the development and adjustment of organizational structures; deployment of Lean and other process improvement methodologies; management of performance and change within the organization; the culture and strategies of the organization; and practices the organization uses to address shifts and trends in the use of its resources.

According to the International City Management Association (ICMA), the 8 keys to organizational excellence are:

• Delight your customers
• Get results from vision and strategic planning
• Create a culture from your values
• Understand and incorporate both leadership and management
• Pay attention to engagement and passion
• Maximize performance
• Measure progress
• Manage change2

Organizational management provides a strategic framework to ensure the agency focuses on developing capability in these areas.

How Does Organizational Management Support Capability-Building?

Organizational management strategies are foundational to helping agencies adapt to change. They ensure ongoing alignment between the organization’s objectives and its structure, workforce, business processes, and resource allocation. By actively incorporating organizational management strategies, the agency is able to stay aware of its strengths and weaknesses and can respond as changes occur.

What Does Organizational Management Look Like in Practice?

Organizational management refers to activities related to:

• Aligning organizational structure to strategy
• Incorporating lean and other business process improvements to improve efficiency and effectiveness
• Creating a feedback loop to continue to check and adjust performance
• Developing a system to manage change within the organization
• Facilitating a leadership culture that is conducive to carrying out agency strategies
• Formalizing the agency’s organizational approach to adjust resources to align with shifting needs

Table 3.1 below includes examples of the subcategories within organizational management, along with the associated activities and mission critical capabilities that are built using organizational management.

Table 3.1 Organizational Management Strategies

Strategy subcategorySample ActivitiesCapabilities Addressed
Strategic PlanningAnnual strategic planning workshopAligning Skills to Needs
Attracting & Retaining Workforce
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Organizational StructureOrganizational restructuring initiative Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Process ImprovementsLean eventsAgility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Performance ManagementQuarterly agency performance reviews with feedback loopsAgility & Resilience
Change ManagementAgency change management function and frameworkAgility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Organizational CultureLeadership culture and strategy retreatAttracting & Retaining Workforce
Agility & Resilience
Operations Focus

Lean Everyday Ideas at CDOT leverages economies of scale to spread innovation

CDOT has a long history of process improvement through Lean events and other process improvement mechanisms in alignment with their vision of "everyone, every day, improving every process and every product, to benefit every customer."

CDOT’s Lean Everyday Ideas (LEI) innovations and improvements were named a Top 25 program for the Innovation in American Government Award by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University.

CDOT’s process improvement success can be attributed to the agency’s ability to drive a culture of learning and to encourage the spread and “borrowing” of innovations throughout the agency.

By publicizing innovative ideas, CDOT has enhanced its capability to create a learning culture by engaging its 3,000 employees and 5 regions to “…make someone else’s idea work for them.”3

Workforce Management

Workforce management ensures the appropriate level of knowledge, skills and abilities are available in the agency to carry out its critical activities today and in the future.

What is Workforce Management?

Workforce planning is defined as “the organization's coherent framework of human capital policies, programs, and practices to achieve human capital requirements that are directly tied to and supportive of the goals, objectives and outcomes of the agency's strategic plan. It is the planning mechanism for assuring that the organization has the right people, with the right competencies, in the right place, at the right time.”4

Workforce management includes: the development of new job descriptions aligned with critical needs; deployment of programs related to employee compensation and rewards; succession planning; leadership development; and training programs to develop soft skills and cultural competencies, as well as cross-training.

How Does Workforce Management Support Capability-Building?

Workforce management creates and develops the human resources needed to carry out the strategies, goals and objectives of the agency. By actively incorporating workforce management, the agency has the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to deploy its most critical activities today, and quickly respond to future human capital needs.5

Ten key DOT workforce needs are:

• Attracting and retaining talent
• Retooling the workforce to meet evolving business needs
• Developing the next generation of leaders
• Downsizing
• Preserving institutional knowledge
• Employee conflicts and performance issues
• Outsourcing
• Organizational change – reengineering and reorganizing
• Improving HR efficiency and effectiveness6

By employing workforce management, transportation agencies can reflect on the gaps created by these workforce needs and create additional capability in these areas.

What Does Workforce Management Look Like in Practice?

Workforce management refers to activities engaging in:

• Strategic workforce planning
• Recruitment and retention practices
• Ensuring seamless transition of processes, roles and responsibilities
• Supporting staff engagement
• Developing talent
• Strategic outsourcing to build specialized skills or handle temporary needs

Table 3.2 below includes examples of the subcategories within workforce management, along with the associated activities and mission critical capabilities that are built through workforce management.

Table 3.2 Workforce Management Strategies

Strategy subcategorySample ActivitiesCapabilities Addressed
Strategic workforce planningSummarize likely future retirement trajectory for key position typesAligning Skills to Needs
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Recruitment and retentionModify position descriptions and job postingsAligning Skills to Needs
Attracting & Retaining Workforce
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Succession planningIdentify critical positions and potential successorsAligning Skills to Needs
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Employee engagementEmployee satisfaction surveysAttracting & Retaining Workforce
Agility & Resilience
Professional developmentLeadership trainingAligning Skills to Needs
Attracting & Retaining Workforce
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
OutsourcingIdentify functions to outsourceAligning Skills to Needs
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus

California Statewide Workforce Planning

In 2013, the Department of Government Operations started an initiative to understand and modernize the civil service system in California. updating human resources processes, websites and other tools to consolidating obsolete job titles and update processes. As part of their ongoing Civil Service Improvement effort, California conducted an evaluation of challenges and trends. The results are summarized in the 2016 Statewide Workforce Planning Report, which details a number of issues related to its workforce, including:

• Inability to recruit qualified candidates
• Complex civil service hiring process
• Lack of essential competencies
• Lack of diversity
• Retention issues
• Lack of advancement opportunities7

In response to the report, the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) developed a Statewide Strategic Plan and required agency plans. Since then, CalHR has developed a comprehensive set of workforce planning tools to help the state’s agencies, including the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans), manage workforce and succession planning.8

Their Workforce Planning Toolkit for State Supervisors and Manager includes:

• Strategic Workforce Plan
• Strategic Succession Plan
• Guides and templates
• Statewide Onboarding Program
• Articles
• Leadership competency model
• Mentoring Handbook

They also provide a set of tools by category to assist practitioners in:

• Analyzing workforce data
• Reviewing noteworthy practices in other states
• Implementing a workforce plan
• Evaluating a workforce plan
• Networking with other HR professionals
• Understanding current workforce trends

By incorporating statewide workforce planning, California has increased their agency capability to recruit and retain staff with skills needed for the future, developed capability to manage workforce change and incorporated a workforce management system to facilitate the capability to create and support a learning culture.

Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management ensures the agency effectively creates, stores and uses existing knowledge to help it carry out its organizational goals and objectives.

What is Knowledge Management?

Knowledge management is an established field that recognizes the intellectual capital of an organization as an asset to be managed to advance the organization’s objectives.

Knowledge management refers to a variety of techniques for building, leveraging and sustaining the agency’s body of knowledge and the experience of its employees and partners, which enables it to act in an intelligent way. It includes both tacit “know-how” as well as access to explicit knowledge that has been codified.9

As illustrated in figure 3.1, knowledge is developed through learning – which can happen when an individual reads a document, participates in a training course, shadows another employee, or collaborates with his/her peers. Knowledge management is closely related to information management. Whereas information management considers how information is stored, categorized, organized and accessed, knowledge management is more about what people know and how this knowledge can be leveraged by the organization.

Knowledge management includes mechanisms to capture and transfer knowledge, reuse existing knowledge, participate in communities of common practice and other opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing, and the use of IT and management systems for maintaining knowledge bases.

How Does Knowledge Management Support Capability-Building?

Knowledge management strategies are integral to agency capability-building. They help agencies to better respond to a rapidly changing environment through identifying, creating, capturing and sharing relevant knowledge.

Done well, knowledge management offers a repeatable, proven way to conduct business and meet customer needs that takes into account historical context, experiences and lessons learned.

Other organizational benefits of knowledge management include:

• Systematically understanding and addressing an organization’s knowledge gaps
• Improving collaboration
• Providing opportunities for learning and problem solving
• Improving productivity by helping employees to avoid mistakes that others have learned from

What Does Knowledge Management Look Like in Practice?

The cycle of knowledge from creation and organization through sharing and reuse is well documented in the literature. As shown in Figure 3.1, this cycle includes:

• Learning – as a result of accessing knowledge through information discovery and review or interactions with other people
• Using or applying knowledge
• Capturing knowledge by writing down lessons learned or creating documentation
• Managing codified information so that it can be discovered10

Knowledge management refers to activities related to:

• cultivating social and learning communities,
• providing knowledge codification and dissemination or transfer,
• creating a learning organization,
• mentoring less tenured employees, and
• creating expertise directories to help make connections across employees

Figure 3.1. The Information and Knowledge Life Cycle11

Table 3.3 below includes examples of the subcategories within knowledge management, along with the associated activities and mission critical capabilities that are built through this strategy.

Table 3.3 Knowledge Management Strategies

Strategy subcategorySample ActivitiesCapabilities Addressed
Social and Learning CommunitiesFacilitating Communities of Practice that meet periodically to share experiences and brainstorm about solutions to common problemsAligning Skills to Needs
Attracting and Retaining Workforce
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Knowledge Capture and TransferCreating a curated, validated lessons learned databaseAligning Skills to Needs
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Knowledge AuditsConducting an employee survey to discover and catalog where certain types of expertise exist in the agencyAligning Skills to Needs
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Learning OrganizationLeadership training to model behaviors conducive to learning and innovation Aligning Skills to Needs
Attracting and Retaining Workforce
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
MentoringMatching up less experienced employees with more senior employees to meet periodically and discuss challengesAligning Skills to Needs
Attracting and Retaining Workforce
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Expertise DirectoriesCreating a directory of employees with expertise in certain specialized areas Aligning Skills to Needs
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus

The Evolution of Knowledge Management within Washington State DOT

Washington DOT (WSDOT) has established a knowledge management approach for addressing:

• Loss of institutional knowledge due to an aging workforce nearing retirement
• Pressure for increased efficiency in the face of inadequate resources
• Organizational strategic direction to support innovation and knowledge sharing12, 13

They have implemented several KM initiatives, including:

• Communities of practice (CoPs)
• Knowledge Capture interviews of retiring staff
• Knowledge management and information systems to support practical solutions

Information and Data Management

Information management and data management are two related strategies for transforming data into useful information that can inform agency decision making.

What are Information and Data Management Strategies?

Information management is defined by the Association for Project Management (APM) as “the collection, storage, dissemination, archiving and destruction of information.”14 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Transportation Performance Management (TPM) Toolbox defines data management as “… encompass[ing] a set of coordinated activities for maximizing the value of data to an organization. It includes data collection, creation, processing, storage, backup, organization, documentation, protection, integration, dissemination, archiving and disposal.”15

Data management is necessary, but not sufficient, to inform decision making in the absence of closely related information management strategies. As described in NCHRP Research Report 920 – Management and Use of Data for Transportation Performance Management: Guide for Practitioners: “For many agencies, the problem is not a lack of data; it is a lack of capabilities to transform available data into useful information. This requires deliberate effort at all stages of the data life cycle, from specification through analysis to make sure that data is of sufficient quality; and that it can be integrated, visualized and used to provide insights. Having people with the right skills and experience to carry out these activities is essential.”

In this guidebook, we include strategies for information technology (IT) management under the “information management” umbrella because IT management improvements are integral to getting more value from data and information.

How Do Information and Data Management Support Capability-Building?

Information and data management strategies ensure the effective and efficient use of information and data to inform agency decision-making and outcomes. These strategies include the processes, systems, policies, practices and procedures associated with managing the agency’s critical information and data throughout their lifecycle.16

By actively managing its information and data, the agency can ensure good data stewardship, and valid, reliable and accessible information for fully informed decision making across the organization.

What Do Information and Data Management Look Like in Practice?

Information and data management strategies include:

• Strategic planning for IT initiatives
• Information Technology and data governance
• Data integration platforms and processes
• Data services for enabling access to data that exists in various locations
• Business intelligence and analytics solutions and services for data visualization, analysis and communication
• Agile software development methodologies
• Cloud solutions such as software-as-a-service
• IT project and service portfolio management tools and processes to track and prioritize efforts

Table 3.4 includes examples of the subcategories of information and data management, along with the associated activities and the mission critical capabilities that are built using them

Table 3.4 Information and Data Management Strategies

Strategy subcategorySample ActivitiesCapabilities Addressed
IT Strategic PlanningCreating an IT strategic plan linked to the agency strategic planAligning Skills to Needs
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
IT and Data GovernanceEstablishing information- and data-related governance structures and processesAgility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Enterprise Data Integration/Data ServicesCreating a data warehouse
Creating Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for open data access
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Business Intelligence/AnalyticsEstablishing an Analytics Center of Excellence to provide services and training to business unitsAligning Skills to Needs
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Agile DevelopmentEstablishing Agile software development processes featuring a series of incremental “sprints” based on prioritized user stories.Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Cloud SolutionsPursuing software as a service (SaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) solutions for selected applications to provide flexibility and facilitate maintenance and updates.Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Project and Services Portfolio ManagementTracking the status of technology projects and services and prioritizing additions based on business needs and available resources.Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption

The Evolution of Knowledge Management within Washington State DOT

Texas DOT (TxDOT) has developed a comprehensive data and information management system and collaborative performance implementation approach to overcome siloes that limited information-sharing in the past and to address MAP-21 performance requirements in collaboration with its MPOs.

The agency’s Information Management Division provides innovative IT and strategic information resource planning services.

Their “OneDOT Data Shop” provides a coordinated inventory of information and data sets used by the agency and its MPOs for collaborating on planning and decision making. This resource includes:

• State and federal financial information
• Census data
• Economic trends
• Letting and work plans
• Program reports
• Project statuses17, 18


Partnership management is a mechanism to create mutually beneficial outcomes compared with operating alone or separately from external partners.

What is Partnership Management?

Strategic partnerships provide opportunities to achieve more than is possible for an individual agency working in isolation with its current level of capabilities. Partnerships ensure broader stakeholder interests are considered and reduce the risk of misalignment and working at cross purposes. By actively managing partnerships among public agencies and with the private sector and academia, transportation agencies can potentially achieve greater outcomes with the same resources.

Partnerships include activities for preparing and promoting public-private partnerships, contracting in new and innovative ways; and collaborating on data-sharing agreements and other initiatives of joint interest.

Developing mutually beneficial relationships outside of the agency is not always easy, and fostering ongoing partnerships requires thoughtful care and mutual respect. According to a recent poll by McKinsey & Company, the biggest risks for strategic partnerships include:

• Misalignment on objectives
• Poor communication and lack of trust
• Poor governance practices
• Inability to adjust to change19

Figure 3.2 shows four factors critical to fostering a positive partnership. These include:

• Establishing roles and responsibilities ensures common expectations for who is responsible for what and when and enables communication.
• Building trust enables teams to experience a feeling of reduced risk when relying on other parties.
• Developing clear communication channels improves productivity and morale among parties working toward a common goal.
• Monitoring and evaluating results establishes measures for and progress toward success.

Despite the inherent challenges associated with partnership management, when done correctly partnerships can provide a win-win for both parties. For example, public/private partnerships can shift some project risks, such as financial, construction or infrastructure operation to the private sector, and benefits the public sector by accelerating innovations, speeding up development and delivery of new technologies and mitigating financial, organizational and cultural transportation agency barriers to implementation.20, 21

Figure 3.2 Partnership Components
How Do Partnerships Support Capability-Building?

Partnership management supports capability building in several ways. First, it enhances existing agency capabilities with the complementary or supplementary capabilities of partner agencies. In the example described above, a state DOT may enhance its ability to adopt new technologies that would otherwise be out of reach given the agency’s existing financial or human resources.

In addition, the shared vision that develops through strong partnerships speeds up innovation and collaboration by establishing “what good looks like” and setting a clear course for successful implementation. In this way, partnerships enable new capabilities and also help improve the efficacy of existing capabilities, while promoting capability maturity development in these areas.

What Does Partnership Management Look Like in Practice?

Partnership management refers to activities related to:

• collaborating with private sector partners,
• being flexible and innovative in project contracting methods, and
• collaborating with partners and stakeholders, such as on IT agreements.

Table 3.5 below includes examples of the subcategories within partnership management, along with the sample activities and associated capabilities that are built through partnerships.

Table 3.5 Partnership Strategies

Strategy subcategorySample ActivitiesCapabilities Addressed
Public/private partnershipsPartnering with private firms to implement new connected vehicle technology in a corridorAligning Skills to Needs
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Innovative contracting methodExecuting data sharing agreements with partner agencies Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus
Collaborative agreementsPutting contracting methods in place that enable flexibility (such as task order contracts) or enable the contractor to operate a new system for a period prior to turning it over to the agency.Aligning Skills to Needs
Agility & Resilience
Technology Adoption
Operations Focus

Maryland DOT Public Private Partnerships

The I-495 and I-270 P3 Program at the Maryland Department of Transportation leverages public-private partnerships and local input to design, finance and build improvements aimed at reducing severe traffic congestion on 70 miles of interstate and adjacent local roads.22

Several components of the program include:

• I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Environmental Impact Study to provide users with a choice of paying a toll for reliable, reduced congestion lanes or using the existing lanes toll-free.
• I-270 from I-370 to I-70 Pre-National Environmental Policy Act activities including public input.
• Opportunity MDOT: Resources to encourage P3 participation by small, minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses and disadvantaged businesses.
• Partnering opportunities with the private sector on designing, financing, building, operating and maintaining improvements.

Previously, the National Capital Region experienced severe traffic congestion.

By leveraging local input and private partnerships, MDOT has been able to achieve time savings of 12 percent on managed lanes. They have increase their capability to create a culture of transparency and accountability by providing the traveling public with travel options, while improving capability to collaborate across jurisdictions.