An external communication plan helps keep the external stakeholders informed, involved (Iowa DOT, 2014, Thinking differently), and supportive of the agency’s asset management effort. Communicating the progress made and the next steps being pursued in the implementation of asset management also shows accountability and adds credibility to the agency’s effort. It is important to have performance measures and targets that are understood.
Engaging with stakeholders to understand their needs and expectations provides the information needed to determine and review the service provided by road infrastructure assets and hence the asset management activities. The road network is often of significant interest to the public and the media. This interest is likely to continue with robust public expectations for how the network should function.
The levels of service that underpin the AMP must be based upon a good understanding of stakeholder and customer priorities and expectations (Austroads, 2009), and they are essential to the success of the AMP. The AMP is an effective mechanism to communicate levels of standards, performance targets, funding scenarios, and outcomes and to manage customer expectations.
An AMP is an important tool in addressing the trend towards transparency, which results in the increased availability of a wide range of information in the public domain. Organizations should provide clarity and transparency in how they make decisions in the identification, assessment, programming, and delivery of asset management activities, including maintenance works, and should clearly explain how such decisions were affected by public input or how these decisions will impact the public.
Providing good quality information to stakeholders on what can be expected from the asset management approach is an important aspect of service to the public. A clear and effective approach to communications within the asset management framework can be an excellent means of providing information and responding to challenges related to programs of maintenance works and value for money (FHWA, 2015). Effective communications also assist with the often high volume of public requests, reports from multiple sources, and media interest in road maintenance. The potholes review undertaken by the Department for Transport in England (HMEP, 2012) and Scotland’s National Road Maintenance Review (Transport Scotland, n.d.) recognize the importance of communications and make recommendations in this regard.