IPI_Generic_APO_Logo_FinalBy Maria Irshad, CAPP, MPA

By now, you’ve either heard or read about APO. It’s a tremendous step forward for the parking industry. It’s also a significant task to undertake as an organization.

In 2014, the parking pioneers who developed the original APO framework reached out us to see if Houston would be interested in beta testing the process. Of course we said yes! The first step – understanding the matrix – was, by far, the highest hurdle.

The original matrix contained more than 200 metrics. Each metric required evidence to be certified by a reviewer. The thought of putting together the evidence, frankly, was overwhelming. We recognized that this isn’t a one-person show – we had to collaborate. So, naturally, we ran it like we would run any other parking project.

DSCN1569We assigned a project manager to oversee the process, create and maintain the schedule, develop the document storage plan, ensure deliverables were met, and produce the final package for the reviewer.

The project manager pieced apart the matrix and assigned categories to experts in our shop. Experts were responsible for reviewing and providing the evidence of support. If our understanding of a metric was not clear, the project manager noted the information, which was then discussed with the reviewer prior to our submittal.

The project manager also tracked those metrics for which we had no evidence.

Looking at the completed matrix and the stacks of evidence, we were able to see our success. It’s like that feeling of crossing everything off your to-do list times 1,000. While we captured our success, the matrix also helped us identify weaknesses. The best practices that made sense for our operation made their way to our strategic plan, providing for future improvements and growth.

If you haven’t already, download an overview of APO and request a copy of the matrix. Even if your organization is not ready to pursue accreditation, measuring your organization against the matrix can help bolster your strategic planning initiatives.

Maria Irshad, CAPP, MPA, is assistant director of ParkHouston.