Transport for NSW – Managing Standards as an Asset


The Standards Management Framework (SMF) update has been a TfNSW cluster undertaking which sets out to create an integrated, harmonized, consistent and holistic whole of life approach to the management of TfNSW technical standards.

The alignment with ISO 55001:2014 Asset Management, Management Systems – Requirements provides guiding principles recognising technical standards as assets, setting high level requirements governing the outcomes in the planning, design, construction, maintenance, operation, and disposal of TfNSW assets.

This ensures standards are managed to create value, putting our customers and communities at the center of everything we do as part of the TfNSW Future Transport Strategy.

Assessment Criteria

Asset Management

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has undergone a transformational journey which saw all transport related agencies and their service providers covering heavy rail, light rail, metro, roads, maritime, ferries and active transport come together to provide better integrated services across all modes, driving a stronger focus on creating better places, and delivering customer and community outcomes. As a result, TfNSW currently manages a complex and diverse portfolio of network assets with a value of circa $178bn (Transport for New South Wales, 2022), see Figure 1.

Figure 1: TfNSW network assets portfolio

The management of such a complex and vast network of assets requires strategic leadership, governance, assurance, and a clear articulation of risk-based and sustainable business outcomes for people to work towards. It also provides TfNSW with the prerequisite assurance framework that asset management activities will deliver an integrated, modern transport system that puts the customer at the center.

Standards Management

The objective of this work was to develop a best practice and easily understood framework and supporting processes to provide assurance that the intended network safety, infrastructure integrity, network availability and reliability outcomes are achieved.

Aligned with the structure and broadly covering the themes of ISO 55001:2014 Asset Management, Management Systems – Requirements, the SMF is a key enabler and a technical and design support element, to the TfNSW Asset Management Framework (AMF).

The SMF supports and enables the achievement of Transport’s future vision and enterprise strategy and its asset management objectives as articulated in the Transport Cluster Strategic Asset and Services Plan, see Figure 2.

Figure 2: An enabler of strategic outcomes

Standards is the collective term used by the TfNSW cluster to identify asset and related process requirement documents for managing the configuration of transport assets and services throughout the asset life cycle. They describe physical or functional characteristics of an asset or performance of an asset management function.

Standards are typically seen as beacons of technical requirements but in fact, when they are aligned to business outcomes they can provide a benefit to the Transport cluster, our customers, the community, and economy by:

  • Guiding TfNSW through safe, effective, and whole-of-life operation, maintenance, and enhancement of the transport network.
  • Ensuring TfNSW requirements are clear, consistent, and transparent to foster collaboration with industry partners.
  • Enabling emerging technologies or innovation by assessing and communicating their appropriate application to the TfNSW network.
  • Providing an overarching framework for risk management and compliance.
  • Ensuring as far as is reasonably practical, safety, integration, and interoperability both from a technical and customer experience viewpoint.

Standards as assets

Standards define the level of quality and reliability of the network considered acceptable by the customer and community for the asset’s life cycle. As such, they are themselves an asset, intangible assets, but assets nevertheless, as well as artefacts which set requirements for TfNSW assets and services whilst also supporting the asset management life cycle.

In the SMF standards as assets have a lifecycle and for this purpose, the DAMA DMBoK, an international data management standard, was adapted to develop a life cycle model setting out interconnected states in the management of information across the life cycle from planning through to enhancing and disposal and align to the Transport AMF life cycle. This is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 Lifecycle of TfNSW standards as assets

Standards provide minimum technical and safety requirements expressed as a set of mandatory rules for an asset (e.g., bridge design, drainage, geotechnical, signaling etc.).

Standards do not sit in isolation, and it is important to set their role in any organisational context, their function and how they create value. For TfNSW, this is graphically illustrated in Figure 4, which demonstrates a clear structure of interdependencies from the overarching context within which we operate (Level 0) to our enterprise policies and frameworks (e.g., Corporate Policy, Privacy, Environment & Sustainability, Asset Management Framework etc.) at Level 1 and how all subsequent levels (2 to 5) are bound to them to enable the implementation and delivery of business goals.

Figure 4 Interdependency structure of documents across TfNSW

As part of establishing this framework, we also developed a set of core principles illustrated in Figure 5. Through these core principles, we set forth our strategy to move towards standards that are outcome or performance based where appropriate, using industry accepted technical approaches with no modification as unless otherwise necessary to meet our obligations and promotes a drive towards national harmonisation.

Figure 5 TfNSW Standards Management Framework, core principles

The SMF provides scalable governance through tiering to processes, and procedures commensurate with the level of risk (e.g., technical, safety, environmental, legal etc.) and change impact. (e.g., single asset, multiple interconnected assets in a corridor, single or multiple modes of transport etc.).

Intelligent Compliance

Technical standards are routinely applied as the limiting boundaries for asset solutions. Overly strong and prescriptive governance can further exaggerate such effects leading to situations where only repeatable and previously proven historical solutions are acceptable, thus stifling innovation and technology adoption. It also exaggerates a focus on best technical outcome for an individual asset without balancing the needs, cost, risk, and performance of transport corridors with interconnected assets.

It is expected that every effort is made to comply with requirements contained within TfNSW standards, it may not be reasonably practicable to always comply fully with such requirements. In some instances, better outcomes can be achieved for TfNSW through noncompliant alternatives even when compliance is reasonably practicable to achieve.

This led to the development of the concessions management process which facilitates in a controlled and auditable manner the management of proposed deviations from or exceptions to standards requirements. This is done to deliver assurance that such deviations are managed appropriately to enable innovation and value creation, see Figure 6.

Figure 6 Concessions management process integrated assurance values.

Value Creation

Value creation is dynamic and constantly present across any type of business or organisation. It can increase, decrease, or even get transformed. An organisation’s principles whatever these may be can create, destroy, or transform value and the constant flow between all the principles makes up the value creation process.

For the Transport context, and with respect to the SMF, we articulate value as achieving that balance of cost, risk, and performance across a range of metrics. Broadly these are financial and non-financial metrics, with the latter encompassing many different categories as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7 Outline facets of value creation

By embracing value creation in the SMF, this enables us to foster a culture of recognition for our individual and team efforts which in turn contribute to the success of others. 

Value creation measurement and articulation are key components of our cultural change shift towards outcomes-based thinking for the customer and the communities we serve. This has now formally been endorsed by our executive leadership which resulted in a cluster-wide program to achieve Future Sustainability – living within our means so we can afford to invest in the right things for our customers and communities with less reliance on taxpayer subsidies.


The Standards Process Development and Publishing (SPDP) team within the Asset Management Branch of Transport for NSW provides strategic initiative leadership of standards as assets and associated support systems. This strategic initiative has been led by the SPDP team in collaboration with the TfNSW cluster.

The update of the SMF version 2.0 has been developed collaboratively, leveraging the Transport Standards Community of Practice (CoP) consisting of Transport Senior Leadership, Standards Leads as well as technical SMEs across the TfNSW cluster.

The focus of the update was to align with ISO 55001 to provide a world class standards management system for users who are involved in standards configurable change processes. In supporting this, TfNSW has deployed the Transport Standards Portal in late 2022 for managing standards configurable changes.

A focus group comprising members of the Transport Standards CoP acted as the working group in reviewing the draft framework and integration of stakeholder comments, ensuring the final draft was fit for purpose and ready for deployment and implementation.

Endorsement of the SMF by the Transport for NSW Asset Management Steering Committee is expected during March 2023.

The Transport for NSW Asset Management Committee have the following accountabilities:

General comments

Standards management is an integrated asset management interdependency and the SMF itself forms part of a wider evolutionary journey. Frameworks set principles, provide further clarity on business strategies and policies, and describes what needs to be achieved. Therefore, the “how outcomes will be achieved” is a natural enabler of frameworks. Figure 8 provides an outline of our evolutionary journey of frameworks and enabling processes to achieve business outcomes.

Figure 8 Standards Management Framework – evolutionary journey

The SMF recognises that Standards are equally assets with their own distinct lifecycle, embeds core principles reflecting strategic organisational direction and is further complimented with a focus on value creation, embracing innovation, technology disruption and thinking out of the box, to deliver the right balance of cost, risk, and performance.


ISO 55001:2014 Asset Management, Management SystemsRequirements

DAMA-DMBOK: Data Management Body of Knowledge, 2nd Edition, July 2017

NSW Treasury, Asset Management Policy for the NSW Public Sector, TPP 19-07, Policy and Guidelines Paper, October 2019.

Transport for New South Wales, Future Transport Strategy, 2022 (, accessed 12th December 2022.

Transport for New South Wales, Connecting to the Future, Our 10 Year Blueprint (, accessed 12th December 2022.

Transport for New South Wales, Annual Report, Volume 1, 2020-21 (, accessed 12th December 2022.

Transport for New South Wales, TS 00003.1:1.0, Concessions to Transport Standards Part 1 – Concession Process, Version 1, 2019.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top