Why a phased approach to adopting parking or security software works
Most parking and security operations eventually come to the decision that technology is the answer to improve how they manage things. The more difficult question is around where to start and how big of leap forward is really necessary.
Management systems for parking and security make life easier for operations of all sizes with all types of priorities. A very small department might need technology to help make better use of limited staff and budget, while a midsized operation wants to be able to better plan their lots and parking allocations to grow revenue. The larger operation might want all of that, and access to a constant stream of data for analytics and ongoing improvements.
Understanding what software solution is the best fit is about understanding what your priorities are right now and what immediate problems you want to solve.
What you might uncover is that a very basic introduction to a new technology satisfies your most imminent concerns and phasing in other features and functionalities lets you better manage your budget while still making big improvements in how efficiently you operate.
Choosing parking and security management software isn’t like buying a car
When you buy a car, you negotiate all the features you want from the start. You get the sunroof, leather interior, and extended warranty before you leave the lot. Nobody wants to come back to add heated seats later because it’s inconvenient and likely going to cost you more.
Your parking or security management software shouldn’t force you into an all-or-nothing scenario. The OPS-COM system is a good example of a modular solution that lets you choose what you need now and add to the package later, without the cost escalating outside your budget. From our experience, a phased approach to adopting software for parking or security management has been the best fit for clients who are focused on addressing one or two areas that are causing the most problems in their operations.
To add some context, if you are a smaller parking and security department on a campus, for example, and you’re looking for a technology solution to help you better manage your permit process, you don’t necessarily need to adopt a full-scale parking solution with all the bells and whistles. A first step into a solution that gives you a customer database with a user-friendly customer self-serve online permit application feature might be enough. You give your customers better access and you minimize the time your staff spends with paper applications and interacting directly with customers. Down the road, you can look at providing your field teams with handheld devices or using the system to manage violations or whatever other features address other, less pressing issues.
If you’re considering adding license plate recognition (LPR) technology, you can phase that in as well. Pay by plate permits could be a starting point with patrol teams looking up plates in a searchable database. You could then choose to equip your patrol teams with cameras either vehicle mounted or as part of their hand-held device if they are on foot.
Advantages and disadvantages of a phased approach
Let’s start with two of the biggest disadvantages. Depending on how large your operation is, you might find that a single adoption of a new system is less disruptive because everything happens at once on a much shorter timeline. While the single implementation is a big disruption, it’s a one-time event and you don’t have to ask your team to go through it again in the coming months or years. The same can be said about training. While there will be more training required, it’s all done at once. You may also see a quicker return on investment because the benefits and efficiency gains are more widespread throughout your operation. Again, this will depend somewhat on the size of your operation.
And now some of the advantages:
Less Risk: with a phased approach if there are problems they are isolated to one area and not your entire operation. This might make it easier to get buy-in from senior management.
Quick Improvements in Priority Areas: when you choose to start with technology that solves your most immediate concerns, you’ll quickly fix those areas that are least efficient and causing your operation the most headaches.
Better Control: when you’re only making small changes, you have better control over how it happens and is implemented. This is especially important for groups who have limited resources to dedicate to the transition.
Easier Approvals: because you require a smaller budget, and the risk is lower, it’s easier to get approvals quickly to move forward. Costs are spread over a longer period and multiple budgets and may be low enough that you don’t require an RFP to purchase the software.
Smoother Adoption: changes are only occurring to a specific area so there is less disruption to other parts of your business. As well, the feedback you receive from the first phase can help direct and improve future phases.
What you should know about the costs
We only feel comfortable talking about the costs of our own system, but it’s worth asking other vendors what a phased approach would cost for their system. With OPS-COM, the difference between adopting our entire system, vs phasing in the different features over 4 years is approximately 10%. This will really depend on what you want your final system to look like, but it’s a good benchmark.
Keep in mind that the longer the time frame of your phased approach, the more likely it is that you’ll see a point where the system price increases during that time. So, you’ll need to build that into your budget as well.
Another important consideration is that we often work with operations who can easily take a phased approach and avoid the headache of the RFP process. We covered some details about security and parking management RFPs in a recent blog, including information on forgoing the RFP entirely.
We work with groups all the time who want to understand where to get started and how to adopt new technology on their timeline. If you have questions, please contact us and we’d be happy to help.
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