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Jun 03, 2017
Developing all the skills to build, manage and support every facet of your IT needs in-house is not realistic – or necessary. Read on to find out why.

Trying to do it all yourself is just too expensive and time-consuming. But walled gardens are not the way to go either. That option inevitably leads to a crippling lack of connectivity and data integration – both of which are vital today.

Whatever industry you look at, the consensus is that ideal enterprise solutions are easy to deploy, use and start getting value from. For advanced solutions, such as analytics and business intelligence tools, industry expertise can add significant value – especially when a quick win is needed.

In the public transport industry, for example, would you want to rely on a partner that has no idea what data you need for compliance reports? Before you answer, remember: non-compliance will get you fined, your vehicles pulled off the tracks and your company in a heap of legal trouble.

With these things in mind, here are five questions that you should ask technology vendors before signing that contract:

 
1. Do you know my turf?

The ideal technology solution shows up to work on Day 1 knowing everything about your business and immediately starts adding value. Solutions that are not purpose-built for your industry need you to take time out to “teach” them about industry regulation, contract KPIs, OTP and so on. This adds complexity and stress to any deployment – most of which will land on your own employees – and ultimately limits the value for your organisation. In short, industry expertise matters when choosing your supplier.

 
2. Have you helped others like me before?

In theory, many different solutions could support your needs. In practice, how many of them will do so successfully? Ask your potential provider to provide detailed case studies and client references that prove their solution works for public transport operators. For example, if your objective is to use a solution with predictive analytics to decrease the mean time between failures on rolling stock, make sure the vendor you select has been there and done that.

‘Bolt-on’ solutions may address a wide market, but add little depth of vision for public transport operators.

 
3. How do you see us growing together?

Ask potential technology suppliers, “What do your existing long-term partner relationships look like?” Long-term business relationships in the technology field are indicative of an organisation that has an ongoing commitment to developing new solutions with you – not just completing transactions.

 
4. When will I see results?

Done right, technology should help take your organisation to the next level with minimum pain and maximum gain. This is difficult to do if you end up spending weeks or months setting up parameters, integrating data and testing, which is usually the case if you attempt to customise a generic solution.

Intelligent tools purpose-built to work with data from your EAM, ITS and financial systems can deliver value to your business right away. The impact is even greater when those tools make it easy for users to customise the way they see and interact with data.

 
5. How will you support me?

Public transport enterprise systems are complex. If there is a technical error or something you don’t understand, what are you going to do? A service level agreement will cover the basics, but who is actually going to help your team get up to speed with using the solution in live environments, when money and safety are on the line?

  • Can your software vendor help figure out why complaints are up 50% on a particular train line?
  • What can they tell you about using their software to meet the new reporting requirements for rolling stock performance measures?
  • Most importantly, does your technology provider have a dedicated training and customer care team that supports your every need?
 
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