Stage 1: Aims and Objectives
Step 1.1 - Determine Aims and Objectives
The aims and objectives Stage 1 of the pilot progresses following the successful review of the feasibility Stage 0.
Obtaining and recording a clear understanding of the requirements of all the various users for an innovation is the essential first step in the development of a pilot. It is important to appreciate that the term ‘users’ is used collectively to encompass all those potentially impacted by the pilot, including those directly using or influenced by the innovation and other decision makers and stakeholders.
In this context users could include network managers, system or service managers, drivers, passengers, commercial drivers, fleet operators, police and emergency services, HA traffic officers, freight operators etc. Decision makers could include a range of local and national government departments or agencies, system providers etc. It is also necessary to take account of other stakeholders needs including for example, local residents who may not use the HA network but may be affected by a pilot.
Through the identification of these user needs the pilot’s aims and objectives and its scope can be clearly defined, i.e. what is and equally importantly what is not, included within the scope of the pilot. From the consultation process and workshop [HA 2006A] a major concern with delivering pilots has been the expansion of its scope with consequent impact upon timescales, costs and outputs. Whilst there may be understandable reasons for the modification of a pilot’s initial scope and objectives, any changes particularly those from the initial feasibility stage, must be fully justified and their implications reviewed and confirmed.
It is against the aims and objectives that the success of a pilot will be ultimately determined and assessed. The development and agreement of these, particularly for a larger pilot, is likely to include representatives from each of the HA directorates.
The process of collecting and applying user information through, for example, interviews, group discussions etc., will:
- Identify the capacities, limitations, needs, expectations and requirements of users which are important to consider when designing the pilot
- Identify the criteria based on the user capacities, limitations, needs and requirements against which the pilot will be judged
An essential element of the user needs analysis is due consideration of the overall strategy and vision of the HA in developing services to deliver safe roads, reliable journeys and more informed travellers.
The European Commission: ‘Guidebook for User Needs Analysis’ [EC 1998A] , through the use of a framework and checklist, ensures that the essential elements of a user needs analysis are covered. The guidebook is particularly useful for HA practitioners involved in the delivery of pilots as it provides definitions, principles, guidelines and methods for user needs analysis and these are supplemented by case studies. This guidebook will support user needs analysis activities from the outset of a pilot and ensure consistency across the range of HA pilots.
In an ideal situation any pilot design would start with the user and their needs however it is more likely to start from either:
- A definition of problems users might be experiencing which might benefit from a new innovation
- An innovation which has already been defined for which user needs must be identified
- An adaptation to an existing innovation for which user needs have already been identified
When developing a pilot’s objectives these should always be defined to be SMART; that is to say:
- State a defined outcome/result
- Be precise
- Define the criteria for success
- Within an innovations capabilities but challenging
- Not too difficult, not too easy
- Compatible with other objectives
- Within available resources (time and/or money)
- Appropriate resource should be in place
- Directly linked to the objectives and priorities of the Highways Agency
- Appropriate to current and future developments
- Set a date for completion
- Identified as medium or long-term
- Part of a series of phased dates for long-term
In determining objectives for an HA pilot, it is useful to have appropriate cross directorate input and to include specialists who can provide advice on the likely measurability of a specific outcome. Workshops have proved an effective way in the past in establishing HA pilot objectives. The Highways Agency ‘M1 Junctions 6A-10 Improvement Works - Proposed Pilot HOV Lane’ [HA 2006E] provides a good example of a pilot for which clear objectives have been established at an early stage.