Now that the authority had its RFP, it needed a way to drive the program forward without robbing time from the already busy internal staff. The authority?s finance team conducted a return-on-investment analysis weighing the hiring of a dedicated team versus bringing on consultants to execute TIDE. The outcome was clear: with a 10-year life, an on-staff dedicated team would, by far, financially outperform a consultancy.
Establishing a core team presented the added benefit of retaining industry and specific institutional knowledge that often ?walks out the door? with consultants.
The authority also made the unusual decision to not pursue candidates for this team that had transit-specific knowledge. Executives believed that like any other industry, there were broadly applied technology and project management backgrounds that could also work in public transit.
The first order of business was to hire the program manager for TIDE, a search that took nearly nine months. In spring, 2007, the new program manager was tasked with determining team makeup and for recruiting and placing the TIDE team. Three more members were added to the team, including a radio systems and IT engineer, an executive administrative assistant, and a senior programmer and database administrator.
Critical Control ... Identifying a Gate Keeper
The authority centralized TIDE?s numerous initiatives intentionally with the program manager. The intent was to allocate decision-making to one gatekeeper in an environment rich with competing priorities. Often, line managers struggled to strike a balance between the operational aspects of their day-to-day role (?getting buses on the road?), and the perceived low priority and time-consuming tedium of a multi-year technology program implementation. The business decision was made to yield the final call to the program manager, whose responsibility it was to deliver the program on time and under budget, but also to provide deliverables for the ultimate satisfaction of the customers served, namely external customers and internal stakeholders who have a keen appreciation for customer preferences and operational needs.
Organizationally, the program manager was given ?dotted line? access to the CEO. This enabled quick communication of issues, escalation of issues and immediate involvement by key executive staff when needed. This ?streamlining? of decision-making was a key factor in the program?s to-date on-time performance.
Since the RFP process was so unconventional (allowing respondents to propose solutions ? and requirements ? that would fit the business need of the authority), the diversity of responses was similarly disparate. It was incumbent upon the authority to conduct a very detailed analysis of just what the respondents were proposing, so that there would be an ?apples-to-apples? comparison.
From March to May 2007, the authority embarked on a tour of reference customers provided by respondents. The TIDE team also interviewed proposed vendor teams, visited vendor headquarters and rigorously compared specifications provided using a process whereby vendor proposals were evaluated based on several non-technical factors, as well as traditional technical compliance items and pricing. Such non-technical factors included: ?ability to deliver? on schedule, ?ability to commit adequate resources? to the program, ingenuity, compatibility, maturity of development processes, strength of the proposed talent and team accountability.
From June to September, the authority leveraged vendors and proposals to derive a comprehensive statement of work and requirements matrix, and finally selected and entered into contracts with ACS Transportation Management Solutions Group of Columbia, Md., as prime contractor with Trapeze Software Group of Missaugua, Canada and GFI Genfare of Chicago, Ill., as subcontractors. The program officially kicked off in November of 2007.
This process was not without challenges. From March to September, the vendor selection team at RGRTA selected and then de-selected prime vendors, and subsequent to prime vendor selection, went through full contract negotiations with two fare collection subcontractors before finally selecting GFI Genfare. These were, at times, very difficult and contentious choices: but in the end, the decision came to what was best for RGRTA customers and for the program as a whole.