Objectives and goals are important to a successful TDM program.  How important?  Really really really important. Why are they so important?  Without objectives and goals it’s hard to focus your TDM programming sufficiently to accomplish anything.  

First things first…what is the difference between objectives and goals?  Objectives are broad.  They are the large scale vision for what you want to accomplish, while goals are the measurable smaller steps that will help you achieve your objectives.  Your objective, for example, may be to reduce SOV mode share at your organization. That’s great, after all, reducing SOV mode share can contribute significantly to your bottom line and make your employees healthier and happier.  But how exactly will we get there?  You could reduce mode-share by having more people take transit, or bike, or carpool, or some combination of any of these, and your goals will be associated with these baby steps that will get you there.  Let’s walk through setting a good goal with the stated objective of reducing SOV mode share.  Here at RideAmigos we believe in setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Dependent.

Specific

Specific goals are goals that are well defined and clear.  ‘We want to have a better TDM program’ for example, is not well defined.  ‘We want to use our TDM program to increase carpooling amongst our employees’ is better, but still not specific enough.  How much do we want to increase our carpooling numbers?  Is ANY increase enough, or is a specific shift necessary to help you reach your objective?  How about ‘We want to use our TDM program to increase carpooling amongst our employees by 30%’?  Now we’ve got a goal that is very specific.

Measurable

This seems pretty straightforward, but you want to make sure that your goal is measurable and therefore, that progress towards it is measurable, otherwise how will you know when you’ve met it?  Given the goal that we are working with, to increase carpool ridership by 30%, we need to ask ourselves what the relevant metrics are and how we will ensure that we have that data.  Essentially we need to have carpooling numbers both before and at some time or times after introducing the specific TDM programming.  How do you get that?  A survey may be a good option, particularly for the before numbers.  Additionally, the RideAmigos platform is an excellent source of data and reporting.  Run your TDM programming through RideAmigos and require that all those that are carpooling and want to receive the incentive, log their trips.  Now you’ve got a robust source of data about the behavior of your users during the program to compare against those before numbers.

Attainable

The goal that we’ve been working on above is only a SMART goal if it is also attainable.  For example, if your employees already commute by carpool 80% of the time (humor me), then the goal to increase carpooling by 30% is unattainable because it would put you over 100% of your total commuters.  Likewise, if you know that your employees are geographically dispersed, it may be difficult to significantly increase the percentage of your users that are carpooling.  If, on the other hand, the majority of your users commute from over five miles away and are from a generally dense geographic area that is underserved by transit, carpooling is likely a terrific option.

Relevant

Your goal also needs to be relevant, both to the problem that you are trying to solve as well as to your users.  For example, if you would ultimately like to reduce the number of parking spaces that your organization needs, carpooling, while better than driving alone, is perhaps not the best way to spend your resources.  Instead you may choose to focus on increasing the number of users that take transit.  Additionally, if the goals are not relevant to your users, it is unlikely that they will take part in any TDM programming that you offer.  Make it relevant by highlighting how working towards the goal will impact their life (less cars means less time stuck in traffic and more time to enjoy the day), or by engaging them through their social groups via the use of challenges.

Time Dependent

Goals that have no time to completion are not goals, they are just things you’d generally like to get done.  To set a goal you must have an end date in mind where you will assess your data, and determine whether or not the goal has been met.  Adding onto the goal that we’ve been working on above, then, we have ‘We want to use our TDM program to increase carpooling amongst our employees by 30% by the end of the calendar year’.  Now we have a specific, measurable goal, that we’ve deemed attainable and relevant and that has a clear end date where we will assess.

Conclusion

Go through this exercise to define the goals of your organization’s TDM programming.  Once you’ve set some goals, you’re ready to start planning steps to take to achieve those goals using the tools that are included in the RideAmigos platform!