Strategic Plan Article

November 29, 2022

“When I was growing up, I always wanted to be someone. Now I realize I should have been more specific.” Lily Tomlin

I found this quote recently, and it struck me that, in some ways, it fits us as a user community for AASHTOWare Project.  We all want to see AASHTOWare Project improve and “be something,” if I may paraphrase Ms. Tomlin.  But how do we ensure it becomes the RIGHT thing?  I’m glad you asked!  This article represents the first series highlighting the AASHTOWare Project Strategic Plan.

Before diving into that, though, we need to back up and understand some background information.  Every five year, the AASHTO Special Committee on AASHTOWare (SCOA) establishes their five-year strategic plan for all AASHTOWare.  This plan is high-level and is intended to provide each of the Product Task Forces with a Vision and Mission for the future of the Products they represent.  The current plan was established in 2025 and outlined four Strategic Priorities:

  1. Engage talent to deliver results,
  2. Optimize the development process and address product implementation and support issues,
  3. Deliver relevant and innovative products, and
  4. Communicate the value of our products and services.

The function of these Priorities is to give Task Forces, like the PTF, a general direction while leaving space for the PTF and user community to choose a destination and how we get there.

Once the SCOA Five-Year Strategic Priorities are established, the PTF begins establishing a five-year strategic plan for AASHTOWare Project.  This process starts with a small group of dedicated individuals – the Strategic Plan Subgroup – who frequently meet with the AASHTOWare Project Contractor to plan the path forward for the next five years (the current plan is 2020-2025).  During these meetings, the subgroup attempts to consider ideas they’ve picked up in TAG meetings, Resolutions from the PUG, information from agency priorities, guidance from Federal Highway Administration, recommendations from the Contractor, and many other details to assemble a plan for the next five years.  The objective is to build a list of “SMART” goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based) to align with the SCOA Strategic Priorities and the user community’s needs.

This series of articles will attempt to highlight some of the projects currently underway as part of the PTF Strategic Plan.  Each article will discuss one or two ongoing strategic objectives and provide insight into why it was selected, how it’s been handled so far, and ongoing activities.

Since this article is primarily an introduction to the Strategic Plan and its development, we’ll only get into a simple item from the plan here.  Okay, maybe it’s not so “simple,” but one that doesn’t require much space to explain.

DATA ANALYTICS

You may be intimately familiar with this one or have recently heard about it for the first time at the PUG Conference.  Either way, this is a significant entry on the list of Strategic Initiatives.  Technically, this project was underway already when the Strategic Plan was developed in 2020. Still, the PTF recognized it would be vital for it to remain a part of the Strategic Plan to ensure its successful completion.  If you aren’t familiar, Data Analytics is a new module under development for AASHTOWare Project.  This powerful module is designed to leverage the power of the AASHTOWare Project Unified Database to complete power analyses on your data.  This project was funded as a joint effort between several agencies and AASHTO.  Those agencies who participated in the solicitation for funding have been busy working with the Contractor for the past several years to design and refine this powerful Software-as-a-Service tool.  It’s nearly ready!  Its anticipated release is mid-2023, and the PTF is excited about this Strategic Initiative!  It puts highly advanced yet user-friend analytical tools in the hands of agency personnel to allow them to identify patterns and make data-driven decisions.

For more information about Data Analytics, check out the information page here: https://www.aashtowareproject.org/apr-da.

For more information about the Strategic Plan, the current PTF Strategic Plan is published here on the AASHTOWare Project website: https://www.aashtowareproject.org/document/01ecaba3-1b91-4e4e-9f80-2a6527175d9c.  Or go to the home page and look for links at the bottom of the page for both the SCOA Strategic Priorities and the PTF Strategic Plan.

-Jamey Wilhite, Arkansas DOT, PTF Member