2.5 Strategic Analysis
Strategic analysis is carried out to satisfy and explore broader corporate level goals and options. It usually uses the same system, including models, boundary conditions and data, but with different optimisation targets and objectives. Strategic analysis may also be conducted on aggregated data for the sake of speed or to overcome software limitations. As the results of the analysis usually vary with the section size, special care must be taken to ensure that when running the works programming and the strategic analysis on differently aggregated data, the results of the two different analyses are consistent.
Strategic analysis is used to answer questions such as:
- What is the preferred general maintenance strategy, including timing and nature of the investment, with the available budget? For example, invest (rehabilitate) first and conduct minimal maintenance or invest evenly over a period.
- What is the minimum cost to maintain the network?
- What is the optimum distribution of resources between asset types or major parts, i.e. sub-networks, of the road asset?
- Are the key performance indicators (KPIs) achievable with the available budget?
Strategic analysis is typically used for network performance analysis, policy research, setting standards and broader sector level budget allocations. The resulting performance analysis provides a ‘state of the asset’ report.
Strategic analysis may also include special objective functions and optimisation methods to investigate the minimum costs to maintain assets at a given standard. In this case the ‘minimum cost’ is relative to the standard and the result of the analysis is the annual resources that are needed to meet the target standard. This is the inverse of the usual optimisation process, as the performance level is set, and only the lowest cost treatment strategies need to be found.
As a general rule, it is advisable that multiple analyses are undertaken with variations in the target standard specified, including those which are currently being achieved on the network. Where this involves calculation of total transport costs, it provides the basis for comparing the economic value of the alternative standards and helps build a funding case.