Goals and Objectives

Definition of Goals and Objectives to be Achieved

Defining goals and objectives requires a shared vision among all stakeholders of what the urban freight system, or a specific aspect of it, should be in the short-term, mid-term, and long-term future. It also requires a clear idea of what roles and responsibilities the stakeholders will have in making that vision a reality. Developing such a shared vision requires working with stakeholders to identify their goals based on a clear understanding of (a) the problems and issues that are the focus of the effort and (b) the parameters that characterize the desired future state, or goal(s). For example, a freight goal may be “to reduce congestion to enhance freight mobility.” A more specific description of an aspect or parameter of that goal may be “to improve travel speeds at key arterials.” Clarifying and defining the goal can delineate it into a series of component objectives.

Agency staff can work with stakeholders to help them understand the potential consequences of skipping this critical step. It is important to develop a consensus around the goals and objectives that should guide the effort. This almost always requires the public sector playing a key role in securing the support of the various stakeholders. If stakeholders are negatively impacted or inconvenienced by the goals of the freight initiative, the public sector could consider the use of incentives of various kinds to mitigate these impacts.

Tasks involved in defining the goals and objectives to be achieved are:
  • Stakeholder outreach and agency coordination.
    • The individuals and groups that define the goals should include agency leadership and public and private-sector stakeholders. Agency leaders are critical for winning and securing long-term support for the DM process, and the recommendations that may come from it. It is also critical to engage private-sector stakeholders as they operate the system and could provide invaluable input regarding desirable and not-so-desirable, goals and objectives.
    • Before defining the goals and objectives, the study area needs to be defined, recognizing that supply chains interconnect wide geographic areas. For example, restricting large trucks from entering a congested downtown may force carriers to use a larger number of small trucks—which, in turn, could increase congestion beyond the level that was produced by the large trucks.
    • In defining the goals and objectives, it is important to maintain ongoing interactions with all stakeholders. As the planning process proceeds, goals and objectives evolve and become more specific. Throughout the DM process, stakeholder positions, perceptions, and recommendations may change as more information becomes available and stakeholders gain a better understanding of each other’s positions and concerns.
  • Data collection / Information gathering:
    • Data and information explaining current conditions helps stakeholders formulate goals and objectives. For example, traffic counts estimating the number and percent of trucks and passenger vehicles could be important to develop an unbiased idea of the relative role of each as contributors to congestion.
    • Ideally information is gathered from all stakeholders, as different groups will view problems and define goals from their own perspectives. For example, the public may perceive the problem as being too many trucks on a roadway, whereas truckers may perceive the problem as being too many passenger vehicles, and railroads may perceive the problem as not having enough rail access.
  • Assessment and analysis:
    • All goals and objectives are reviewed to confirm that they are reasonable given constraints of time, budget, environment, and regulations in place. For example, a goal to drastically reduce the number of trucks in an area may not be realistic without sufficient funding to provide alternative freight transport modes. When the goals and objectives are drafted, it is important to present them to the agency leadership and to public- and private-sector stakeholders to confirm that (a) they are appropriate and (b) they address all relevant issues and concerns. Additional information about existing and future conditions, as well as the opinions and perspectives of other stakeholders, may help in the review, refinement, and finalization of objectives.
  • Generation of Outputs:
    • Outputs from this task are a set of goals and objectives, agreed upon by all stakeholders, that will clearly specify the desired future state of the system. The objectives should follow the SMART criteria; that is, they should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely (Federal Highway Administration 2012c).

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