The roll-out process stretches over time and consists of several steps. Even if IT solutions within the ITxPT (IT for Public Transport) standard are plug-and-play, there are decisions to be made, including definition of the system, test installation, FAT and SAT tests, end-user testing, educations, installations and configurations, acquiring data, educating personnel, and many other steps to be taken before the full roll out is finished. Depending on the project, how many buses and the availability to make installations, the process can stretch up to a year or more.
We will give an overview of a typical roll out plan. Note that the procedure can differ quite a lot from case to case, and with the fast evolving IT environments, procedures will change over time. It also differs quite a lot between the plan for an operator with fifty buses to an operator with thousands of buses. All steps are not always necessary in smaller projects, whereas in larger projects other steps and procedures will be added, according to specification. There is also a difference if the project is a part delivery of a bigger project or if it is a stand-alone project. It could also be initiated by a PTA tender. However, to get a basic knowledge of the process, this post hopefully covers your need.
So, where does it all start? First, you typically do a pre-study to have a basic idea of what you are looking for. A part of the pre study can be in the form of a pilot, as described further down.
Request For Information (RFI)
In this stage you often don’t have enough information to write a detailed request, and you are not necessarily committed to buying. Request for Information (RFI) is used when you think you know what you want but need more information from vendors. It will typically be followed by an RFQ
Request For Quote (RFQ)
Now, you have a clearly defined specification of what you need, and you are probably committed to buying. Request for Quote is commonly used when you know what you want but you need information on how vendors would meet your requirements and/or how much it will cost.
The supplier makes a cost estimation, based on previous experience and the details in the quote request.
To ensure that the system meets your expectations and to get a deeper knowledge of the system, a Pilot is often a natural step to take before deciding on a project. The purpose of the pilot is to get a better understanding of how the overall solution works in the field. How does the form factor match the needs? Is the solution what you were expecting? You also often start collecting data at the same time, to be used later for setting up a baseline for the features such as for example Fuel Economy.
As mentioned above, sometimes the pilot precedes the RFI and RFQ, as a part of the pre study. If you need to get a better idea of the system before being able to formulate questions, then ordering a few units to install one in each vehicle type in your fleet and test the standard functionality before going forward with a formal request for information, can be a good idea.
A project brief is a miniature of a Project Description, this document is done in the Start-up phase of the project and describes very shortly the background, desired outcome, project setup and the business case. The main target is to verify that the project is, or will be viable and worth doing. It provides important input to the Cost decision that will actually move the project to the next phase.
Now the cost decision is made. You order the system, and the project can start. This is often the first payment point, where typically 50% of the total is settled.
Initiation – Execution
First the product is described in detail by the supplier and you both agree on that the details of the contract are covered in the description. This is what is going to be implemented.
Set up Project team
Now it is time to start the actual project. First and foremost it is important to set up a suitable organization at this point. Most important at the implementation stage is that you as the purchaser create an internal organization with the purpose to take care of the project when it is implemented. The Project setup normally consist of the following:
Project Manager (supplier side): Responsible for driving and managing the project according to the supplier guidelines and according to Project Objectives.
Project Board (supplier side): Responsible for giving support and guidance to project management.
Project Members (supplier side): Contains all the resources needed to deliver the work packages that will be the final product or solution. This work includes to develop & deliver new functionality and to deliver existing services. Example of roles are architects, software developers.
Project setup (purchaser side): There should be a similar setup but at minimum we recommend to have a Project Manager (responsible for the rollout) and a technical contact (responsible for the technical solution).
Other Project Support (purchaser side):
- Management group where representatives of the employer and the unions are members (for larger projects).
- Eco driving coach (if applicable) – preferably a seasoned bus driver, with prior experience to educate staff – will educate drivers and function as a contact person between the drivers and the system deliverer.
- Technical receiver – will oversee vehicle installation, the selection of buses, vehicle login and possible integration, back-end login and possible integration.
- Employer representative – responsible for the incentive program (if implemented)
- Union representative/safety agent – placement of vehicle-mounted equipment. Incentive program (if implemented)
- Workshop representative.
Set up Project plan
In this process all actors are involved, where goals and organization for implementing the project are decided. You also set the time frame for the project. It is advisable to involve the union or other organizations representing the employees, to benefit from the experience of drivers within the organization. For the same reason, workshop personnel should also be involved early in the process.
Clarify all activities
This stage is extremely important for a successful project. Here the purchaser and the system supplier agree on the specifications of the project, both on project level and on a more detailed level.
You also decide if you are going to do a field trial, or Site Acceptance Test (SAT), which is done on a limited, already existing functionality. There are some additional decisions to be made by you, the purchaser:
- How many depots? It is wise to start out with a few depots or to start with a field trial (SAT) to try the system out and to give everyone involved the opportunity to understand what the project aim is and how it should be implemented.
- For eco driving, the chosen busses should, if possible, be driven by several drivers, where some don’t log in. It isn’t necessary, but it is good for the initial comparing evaluation between drivers with and without eco-driving implemented.
You need to be very clear about what a successful project means, already at this stage. If this isn’t done, you for example don’t know what to test in the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) and the Site Acceptance Test (SAT).
What is a successful SAT? In next blogg post, “Roll-out plan for telematics part 2”, the FAT and SAT tests are explained in some detail. You need to go through the details and decide the expectations beforehand, together with the system supplier, so that you are clear of what to expect from the tests, and from the system functionality.
Then you need to write test cases. The project requirement specification is the input for the system specification, and the system specification is the input for all tests. Sometimes use cases are a part of the process of writing test cases as well.
Another important issue to take into consideration is to see to it that you have secured the resources to go through with the SAT tests. Failure to do so, can delay the whole project. For instance, if the SAT test is connected to payment, and you don’t have the resources to finish the tests in time, then you can’t make the payment. Then the project can’t continue until that happens, which in the end could delay the whole project plan.
The FAT and SAT generally play important roles in moving the project further, both because they are gates that must be passed before continuing to the next step, and because payment is often connected to the tests.
Other payment points can be at the time of ordering, delivery of hardware, software or delivery of the system as a whole. This depends on the size and kind of system ordered.
In the next post (part 2) we will go through developing products and solutions, Tests and Test setup, where we walk through the FAT and SAT tests in some detail.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is the author’s opinion and doesn’t reflect the opinion of any other person or organisation.