Why a phased approach to adopting parking or security software works
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 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. While a mid-sized operation wants to be able to better plan their lots and parking allocations to grow revenue.
The larger enterprise 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 an excellent 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.
An example, if you are a smaller parking and security department on campus, 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.
The first step can be into 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. While you minimize the time your staff spends with paper applications and interacting directly with customers.
Initially it may be that you 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 look at providing your field teams with handheld devices or using 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 he 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 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.
Advantages and disadvantages of a phased approach
Let’s start with two of the most significant disadvantages. Depending on the size your operation is, you might find that a single adoption of a new system is less disruptive. Reason being 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 there will be more training 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. This is where staff buy-in is a huge benefit, as more staff buy into the process and offering, more staff are able to assist those that might be intimidated by new processes or new 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: Making small changes means, you have better control over how it happens and its implementation. This is especially important for groups who have 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 are only occurring in 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 system. 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 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 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 which 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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