Engage in project planning and make initial decisions about the ITS procurement process.

Experience from a review of ITS contracting methods and practices. Step 1 of the Decision Model.

United States

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Lesson Learned

Project planning includes a number of steps that are important to ensuring the success of the system procurement and acquisition process. The research concluded that all procurements should be preceded by the establishment of a shared vision among stakeholders for the project, the definition of project scope, a careful cost estimating process, and the development of a project work breakdown structure with a schedule for the systems procurement.

The guide notes the following key steps in project planning:
  • Determine project feasibility. During this stage, stakeholders must come to agreement on the project concept of operations and on how the system will be used. This involves a consideration of any institutional, financial or temporal constraints that may affect the ITS project. Once the concept of operations has been established, the stakeholders must outline the project scope, schedule, and cost estimations.
  • Consider the use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products (hardware and software). In establishing project feasibility, the agency may learn that the planned system has been developed and procured by another agency. In this case, the guide recommends a commodity type procurement process. There are a number of benefits to procuring COTS systems: these systems have been previously tested; the cost for system upgrades can be shared by agencies; and the system’s operation can be assessed before system procurement. Agencies considering this option should consult other agencies that have had experience procuring COTS systems.
  • Consider whether outsourcing is an appropriate alternative. With this approach, an agency contracts for the acquisition of a function (i.e. an entire agency service such as traffic management, traveler information or toll collection) or a capability (i.e. an internal agency process such as inspection, maintenance, signal timing). The research concluded that outsourcing is a useful approach for the acquisition of new systems when an agency requires a new capability but does not have the personnel resources to manage its implementation, operations and/or maintenance.
Project planning prepares agencies for initiating the first step of the Decision Model used to guide the ITS procurement process. In the first step, agencies must assess the fundamental project characteristics and make initial decisions about the nature of the procurement. The following guidelines are provided regarding the first step of the Decision Model:
  • Utilize an outsourcing procurement package if outsourcing an existing agency activity or function is planned.
  • Utilize traditional consulting procurement processes if consulting services are required.
  • Utilize the Decision Model if the project includes system development.
This initial step assists agencies in determining whether the Decision Model is appropriate for their project or whether an outsourcing or consultant contract is required. This step, combined with the subsequent steps of the Decision Model, is designed to create an efficient and reliable procurement process. This increased efficiency can result in cost savings for agencies in the procurement of ITS. Moreover, by enabling agencies to choose the most appropriate procurement package, the Decision Model facilitates the ultimate success of the ITS deployment.

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Guide to Contracting ITS Projects

Author: Kenneth R. Marshall and Philip J. Tarnoff

Published By: National Cooperative Highway Research Board

Source Date: 2006

Other Reference Number: NCHRP Report 560

URL: http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/nchrp_rpt_560.pdf

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Lesson Contacts

Lesson Contact(s):

Kenneth R. Marshall
Edwards & Kelcey

Phil Tarnoff
University of Maryland
301- 403-4619

Lesson Analyst:

Margaret Petrella
U.S. DOT/ RITA The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center


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Lesson ID: 2007-00321