PARCS Re-creation: Implementing a Large Project Imperfectly

By Christina Ryan; Ben Schnabel, CAPP; and Brian McGann

Thinking about replacing your aging parking system and equipment? Wondering what new technology would do for the efficiency of your parking environment?

This type of large-scale project can seem too overwhelming to even begin to think about.  Executing a large project takes planning, funding, and hundreds of resource hours.  This can be daunting for any entity, but especially for those with limited resources. On the flip side, installing shiny, new equipment, implementing cutting-edge technology, and developing more efficient and accurate processes is very exciting for both users and customers.

Conventional wisdom will tell you the key to good project management includes a lot of formal documentation–Gantt charts, task lists, requirements gathering, process flows, etc.  These are all useful documents in developing a project plan and it is highly recommended that they be a part of the planning process.

But what happens most often is that these valuable pieces of information don’t manifest into a successful implementation. How can this be when so many planning hours were spent thinking about the perfect implementation?  Because no implementation is perfect. Outside forces that are not within the project team’s control wreak havoc on the best-laid plans.

Parking & Transportation Services (PTS) at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus, started their quest for a new parking system in July 2018. Three years later, PTS is completing the implementation of new PARCS software and equipment (including LPR). Their experience highlights the keys to a successful project implementation. What are they? Surprisingly the concepts are very simple:

  • Build a strong team (it takes a village).
  • Break it down (many small pieces).
  • Communicate (consistently).
  • Manage (daily).
  • ADAPT, ADAPT, ADAPT (constantly).

Christina Ryan and Ben Schnabel, CAPP, are with the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus. Brian McGann is with Walker Consultants. They will present on this topic at the 2021 IPMI Parking & Mobility Conference & Expo, Nov. 29 – Dec. 2, in Tampa, Fla.