Bringing Agile Software Methodology to Parking
6 Nov 2016
The parking enforcement industry has undergone major practical changes over the past few decades. The focus has shifted from tried-and-true, slow-and-steady methods of enforcement (meters, gates and spitters, chalked tires) to new and exciting tech-friendly ones (pay-by-plate, pay by space, smartphone-based payments) that emphasize speed, efficiency, and customer convenience. This makes sense, given our reliance on real-time communication and cloud-based technology in almost every aspect of modern life.
Municipalities that have ridden the wave so far have enjoyed major benefits in both customer satisfaction, revenue generation and increased compliance. And to its credit, the industry is not growing complacent with these enhancements. No matter how great something is going, improvements can always be made, and parking management companies are looking far and wide to locate new ways of developing further.
The “Agile methodology” is one such innovation, an interesting new way to consider product development, project management, and collaboration that has revolutionized the software industry. Here’s a brief explainer of what the “Agile method” is, how it works, and why it’s perfect for the parking management industry.
Getting More Out of Working Less: The Agile Manifesto
An “Agile” approach to development is based in collaboration among individuals, self-organization, and cross-functionality. To call a process “Agile” is to say that it adheres to the founding tenants and 12 principles behind The Agile Manifesto, a sort of “teamwork blueprint” written at the turn of the 21st century by software engineers seeking a better way to manage development teams. Based on the workflow methods of innovative Japanese companies in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the goal is to produce products that work well and give customers what they want, and to do this by being responsive to critical feedback throughout development and emphasizing individual co-worker interactions over tools and processes.
Agile methodology is the opposite of a top-down management structure. Outside of one introductory meeting where managers lay out the project to developers and plan workflows, all oversight and management from that point forward comes from the developers and their teams themselves. Brief, once-a-day meetings called “sprints” keep management in the loop on progress, but beyond that everyone’s on their own, and held accountable, for what they produce, with business and development teams working towards individual targets that work in concert with one another but do not overlap.
Each team is self-organized to promote a constant development pace, and iterations of products or data sets are continually delivered throughout the project’s lifespan so they can continually be updated or revised until finished. Though it’s ideal for projects that end in the creation of a concrete product, this system is adaptable to any sort of complex project with lots of moving parts and many different people involved.
Customer satisfaction is the highest priority and final goal of the Agile methodology, and everyone from the FBI to construction crews has utilized it to get more done in less time without forgetting practical considerations like utility and customer convenience. Undertaking simultaneous workflows from multiple groups that rarely intersect, except in iterative deliveries of useable chunks over time, as opposed to waiting until everything is 100% completed and working backwards from there, allows teams to work smarter, accomplish more, and manage their time more efficiently.
Agile Methodologies in Parking Management
Responsiveness, adaptability, and efficient project management all seem ideally designed for an industry like parking management, which involves so many different individual actors, enforcement objectives, and changing circumstances. In particular, the emphasis Agile methods place on teams working in unison on separate aspects of a given project simultaneously shows a better path forward for the future of parking software and enforcement. This is why gtechna has adopted the agile approach to create the best possible product that meets enforcement needs while keeping parker satisfaction front and center.
Remember, parking enforcement agencies are actors working on behalf of a larger entity (the municipality) within a department and with a variety of mandates and means at their disposal. Organizing everything as efficiently as possible is no small task, especially given the sometimes antagonistic nature of the relationship between parkers and parking enforcement officers. Teams that are better organized can provide better coverage and services; when everybody’s on the same page, good relationships can be built based on a mutual respect between the city’s parking authority and the public.
An Agile approach to parking management can be designed around tasks that are time- and team-oriented, with daily reviews and progress updates that emphasize how everyone’s been handling their assigned tasks, as opposed to worrying solely about what someone in charge wants them to do. Outside-in as opposed to top-down, parking professionals–from field officers to IT teams to managers–can keep track of themselves with an Agile methodology and respond quickly to necessary changes or issues that develop as they develop.
In light of the way technology itself is changing the game for parking solutions with new systems like pay-by-plate, this seems like an obvious fit. And yet, it’s not something everybody embraces. Mainly, this is because many people simply don’t understand the Agile method. Who wouldn’t we want to work smarter, but not longer, to produce a higher-quality of work on behalf of end-users who will be more satisfied by the work accomplished? It is no small task to enforce local parking ordinances, but an Agile methodology allows everyone to see the situation in a more holistic way that can lead to a better experience for parkers and officials alike.
Bringing Agile Methodology to Parking Enforcement
Accountability. Transparency. Efficiency. Responsiveness. Adaptability. Development. Collaboration. The hallmarks of the Agile Method lend themselves to parking enforcement every bit as well as they do the software industry that originally developed them. Municipalities that want to stay ahead of the game and get more out of their local parking enforcement system would do well to integrate them locally, and soon. At gtechna, we know agile. Working with a team of parking experts that knows the agile process inside and out like us can get your operation off to a fresh start with a newly minted real-time parking solution and agile management approach.
Wondering what parking management in the cloud looks like? Check out our infographic!