Establish a clear understanding among all partners on the level of technical support to be provided by suppliers and integrators, as equipment provided in-kind or at a reduced cost is often provided with minimal technical support.
Orlando, Florida's experience with a Field Operational Test (FOT) on using a single smart card for transportation payments at facilities operated by multiple regional agencies.
There are tradeoffs associated with the level of technical support provided by suppliers when accepting "in-kind" or equipment at a reduced cost from a supplier(s) in a demonstration project. The implementation team made arrangements with several vendors to supply equipment at a reduced price (or in some cases at no cost) in consideration for the relatively high profile that this FOT would provide. While the vendors did agree to offer lower cost equipment, some offered only limited quantities. In addition, some software customization and systems integration support services that would typically be offered by an equipment vendor became the responsibility of the overall systems integrator. The magnitude of these additional systems integration responsibilities became increasingly apparent over the course of the implementation period, and contributed to the implementation taking longer than originally anticipated.
The implementing agencies indicated that this approach was based on a risk management decision that took into account the odds for success and the cost estimates received for integration with existing systems. They estimated that half of the federal funding provided for the project might have been expended for this part of the overall integration effort if this approach had not been adopted. The implementation team identified these equipment arrangements with vendors as a viable implementation solution, given the available funding, once it was clear that initial attempts at a traditional procurement approach had proven unacceptable from a risk management perspective. The revised procurement approach that was utilized served to limit the need to use capital project funding for equipment purchases. The limited scale of the test configuration also helped preserve sufficient funding to last throughout the duration of the FOT.
This ORANGES experience suggests the following guidance for similar future initiatives:
- Only use "in kind" or reduced price contributions from suppliers with an advance understanding on any limitations in the supply by that vendor of necessary ancillary equipment and services associated with that product.
- Ensure that there are planned mechanisms to provide all necessary ancillary equipment and services that will not be provided as part of such a vendor arrangement.
The overall project was completed behind schedule. The system development challenges associated with this lesson introduced significant schedule delays, while the project team found ways to compensate for limitations in what the vendors would contribute that had not been anticipated.
The participating cardholders generally expressed a positive opinion about the potential technology, with concerns focusing primarily on the limited scale of deployment. The system development challenges associated with this lesson had no significant effect on the system performance as experienced by the cardholders.
The ORANGES experience highlighted some issues and problems associated with equipment that is provided "in-kind" or at a reduced cost, as the type of equipment often needs higher levels of technical support. This experience identifies strategies gaining an understanding of the level of technical support needed by suppliers and integrators involved in the project. While this learning was derived from a project involving a smart card payment system, this guidance applies to all ITS projects requiring some level of systems integration and technical support.
Author: Moniz, Leisa M. (Volpe) et al.
Published By: U.S. DOT Federal Transit Administration
Source Date: 8/1/2004
EDL Number: 14268URL: http://ntl.bts.gov/lib//jpodocs/repts_te/14268.htm
U.S. DOT/RITA/John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
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smart cards, electronic fare payment, SmartCard, smart card, SmartCards