Adopting parking or security software in a phased approach
Most parking and security operations eventually decide that technology is the answer to improve how they manage things. The more difficult question is where to start and how big of a leap forward is necessary.
Parking security software management systems 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. In contrast, a mid-sized operation wants to better plan their lots and parking allocations to grow revenue.
The larger enterprise might want all 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. You get the sunroof, leather interior, and extended warranty before you leave the lot. Nobody wants to return to add heated seats later because it’s inconvenient and will likely cost you more.
Your parking or security management software shouldn’t force you into an all-or-nothing scenario. The OPS-COM system is an excellent modular solution that lets you choose what you need now and add to the package later without escalating costs outside your budget.
From our experience, a phased approach to adopting the software for parking or security management has been the best fit for clients focused on addressing one or two areas causing the most problems in their operations.
An example is if you are a smaller parking and security department on campus and are 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.
The first step can be a solution that gives you a customer database with a user-friendly customer self-serve online permit application feature. You offer your customers better access. At the same time, you minimize the time your staff spends with paper applications and interacting directly with customers.
Initially, you may want to consider how you can reduce staff time and make your parking office more efficient. Often small tweaks rather than large leaps can make noticeable improvements in both the time and emotional commitments of patrol and counter staff alike.
Down the road, you can provide your field teams with handheld devices or use the system to manage violations. You can leave less pressing issues until later. Both young and older staff enjoy being invested in new technology. In many cases, a staff member will lead the charge in such an area and become a mentor to other non-technical staff.
If you’re considering adding license plate recognition (LPR) technology, you can also phase that in. Pay-by-plate permits could be a starting point for patrol teams looking up plates in a searchable database. You could then choose to equip your patrol teams with vehicle-mounted cameras or as part of their hand-held device.
Advantages and disadvantages of a phased approach
Let’s start with two of the most significant disadvantages. Depending on the size of your operation, you might find that a single adoption of a new system is less disruptive. The reason is that everything happens at once on a much shorter timeline. While individual implementation is a significant disruption, it’s a one-time event. You don’t have to ask your team to go through it again in the coming months or years.
Training has similar issues, and while more training is required, it’s all done at once. You may also see a quicker return on investment (ROI) because the benefits and efficiency gains are more widespread. Staff buy-in is a huge benefit; as more staff buy into the process and offering, more staff can assist those intimidated by new processes or technology.
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: Choosing to start with technology that solves your most immediate concerns quickly fixes those areas that are least efficient.
Better Control: Small changes mean you have better control over how it happens and its implementation. This is especially important for groups with limited resources to dedicate to the transition.
Easier Approvals: With a smaller budget, the risk is lower. It’s easier to get approvals quickly to move forward. The options include spreading costs over an extended period and various budgets. Costs may be low enough that you don’t require an RFP to purchase the software.
Smoother Adoption: Changes only occur in a specific area, so there is less disruption to other parts of your business. The feedback you receive from the first phase can also help direct and improve future phases.
What you should know about the costs
We only feel comfortable talking about the costs of our system. It’s worth asking other vendors what a phased approach would cost their system.
With OPS-COM, the difference between adopting our entire system vs. phasing in the different features over four years is approximately 10%. This will 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 you’ll see a point where the system price increases. So, you’ll need to build that into your budget as well.
Another important consideration is that we often work with operations that 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 always work with groups who want to understand where to get started and how to adopt new technology on their timeline. If you have questions, please contact us; we’d be happy to help.
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