5. Engaging Customers, Stakeholders and Communities
Determining community and stakeholder requirements, and translating them into asset management objectives and operational activities, is a complex and challenging task. There are many sources of information that can be used, including demographics, statistics and economic data, as well as community and stakeholder consultation processes.
It is important to understand communities and to consult with them, so that road assets can be provided that meet expectations and serve transport needs within a specific region (Xu 2001). Otherwise, there is a risk of making incorrect assumptions, leading to poor decision-making.
Effective stakeholder consultation processes are encouraged in order to better understand values and expectations, help identify priorities, potential issues, social impacts, opportunities, alternatives and solutions to problems, and to identify those outcomes and levels of service that the community is prepared to pay for. Feedback and information needs to be provided to the community, such as budget constraints and trade‑offs that may need to be made between different levels of service, exploring the impact of decisions on agency and road user costs in the longer term.
When consulting with different groups it is important to consider the following points:
- Make sure the consultation process reaches a representative sample of customers.
- Make the most of existing customer knowledge within the organisation before initiating new surveys or customer research.
- Make sure that consultation includes the associated benefit and cost impacts when discussing LoS requirements. This will help customers choose between alternative options and determine which ones are more important to them.