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Integrating Technology Into Your Parking Operations

This article was published by the National Parking Association in the February 2023 issue of Parking Magazine. Its content is inspired by a panel featuring Ocra product leaders Chris Everton and Avarie Anderson, alongside other industry experts, at NPA Expo 2022.

You can view the original article here, and check out our recap of the panel, too!

There are several factors to consider when integrating technology into your business operations.

A long-term company strategy will help in evaluating which path is ideal.

For example, will you need to build a proprietary system or can it be purchased off the shelf? Or perhaps there’s another company you can partner with to leverage operations.

The focus is different for every organization. The decision to build, buy, or partner starts with understanding what resources you have available and how fast you need to scale.

It’s best to start with a formal needs assessment. This helps stakeholders gain a clear understanding of the problems to solve, what value needs to be created, and how the tech will adapt for future needs.

💰 Time to Buy

Buying a solution means taking an existing technology product/service and using it in house. The technology can typically be implemented quickly, often out of the box.

Involve key stakeholders to ensure the solution is agile enough to meet company demands, potentially over the next ten years. Also check that the solution integrates with technologies already in use.

Find out if the tech company provides technical support and training for staff. If not, this may need to be managed internally and will require additional resources.

Develop an installation and maintenance plan to make sure that the integration process is successfully managed.

🔨 Time to Build

Creating new technology software for your organization takes project time, money, and subject matter experts to ensure a solution that can effect change.

Considerations regarding whether to custom build include:

  • Integration – The new system needs to integrate with external software currently being used, as well as hardware and software already in place.
  • Obsolescence – As technology becomes outdated, it’s important to factor in the costs and resources needed to keep up with the latest developments.
  • Longevity – Building might work best for companies that plan to own assets or real estate for the long term. If the business is being developed for a future sale, it might not make sense to fund a new solution.
  • Limitations – Is there a reason the marketplace doesn’t already have this solution? Creating new technology may be too customized.

🤝 Time to Partner

When you partner, you’re tapping into another company’s expertise, so you don’t have the endure the tech creation process and can still scale quickly. Identify a tech company to help develop your strategy and build a solution that can propel your business ahead.

The partner should have mutually beneficial outcomes, in which your partner helps you meet your goals, adds value, and supports growth.

Questions to consider:

  • Does the partnership come with implementation support and training?
  • Does it solve one problem but create new problems that you’ll also need to solve?
  • Will the partner scale features with you and be flexible to your evolving needs?
  • Does the partnership offer you a financial benefit?
  • Does the partner truly understand your problems and needs, or are they just trying to sell you a solution?

Long-Term Focus

Keep the company’s long-term technology plan updated and accurate. The review of technology needs to be an evolving process as the business grows.

Dedicated technology companies often have new and innovative offers that you may want to take advantage of as the parking industry continues to rapidly progress.

Staying on top of technology advancements can help you advance your business, and even discover new markets.

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