Apply systems engineering principles for improved project management.

A Colorado DOT experience in deploying a large multi-jurisdictional ITS project

Colorado,United States

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Lesson Learned

The I-25 Truck Safety Improvements Project (I-25 TSIP) was a large multi-jurisdictional project with a two tiered (Integrator and Manager) structure. Colorado DOT (CDOT) believes this was sound rationale even though this structure was not a complete success for them. The CDOT/Manager partnership was a positive experience; however the CDOT/Integrator partnership was not as successful due to several unresolved issues. The fact that the project was still a success indicates that applying systems engineering principles to the project improved the project management and they were able to overcome setbacks to deploy a successful project.

CDOT offers the following suggestions for improving project management through systems engineering.
  • Develop an organizational approach that emphasizes a multi-tiered technical management structure. CDOT developed a five-tiered technical management structure that was implemented on a previous project and was maintained on the I-25 TSIP because of its proven effectiveness. Generally, the configuration is comprised of five levels of oversight ranging from the upper management level with less frequent meetings to the day-to-day participants that meet more frequently. Because of the deployment focus of this project, CDOT was able to eliminate two of the management levels that would normally be required for a "normal" software development project. The structure will be maintained and of even greater value on a future project to develop the CDOT core ATMS/ATIS.
  • Employ proactive risk management. Due to successful application of the risk management principles that form a key part of systems management, CDOT was able to develop recovery plans to complete the intended work when the Integrator's services were discontinued. Although some schedule delays were encountered as a result of reassigning tasks, all intended work was completed at no additional (unintended) cost to the project. Risk management was the paramount factor allowing CDOT to achieve a winning project outcome after participation of the Integrator ended. Various projects were deferred, identified for completion by the Integrator or identified for completion by the State. Completing certain task orders using State forces ultimately led to increasing CDOT’s in-house expertise in ITS-related areas.

This lesson suggests the importance of applying sound system engineering principles throughout the deployment of the I-25 TSIP project. Due to some extenuating circumstances early in the project there could have been significant negative impact on the budget and schedule, ultimately affecting overall project performance. However, because of the systems engineering principles that were established, CDOT management was able to overcome the adversities and complete the project successfully. The actions described above laid the foundation necessary to develop a recovery plan that allowed for successful completion of the project. By maintaining budgeted costs and schedules, CDOT was able to achieve the established goals for the region that included increased mobility and safety, improved productivity and enhanced inter-modal connectivity and inter-jurisdictional coordination.

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I-25 Truck Safety Improvements Project Local Evaluation Report

Author: Stephen Sabinash

Published By: Colorado Department of Transportation

Source Date: 12/29/2004

EDL Number: 14121

Other Reference Number: FHWA-JPO-05-039

URL: https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/4113

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Lesson Contacts

Lesson Contact(s):

Steven Sabinash, P.E.
Centennial Engineering, Inc.

Agency Contact(s):

Frank Kinder, P.E.
Colorado DOT ITS Branch

Lesson Analyst:

Cheryl Lowrance


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Lesson ID: 2005-00105