Exercise Your Procurement Muscles: Ask the Experts for Help!


By Brian Shaw, CAPP

It used to be that sourcing a Parking Management System (PMS) to manage permits, transactions, citations, etc., was such a huge undertaking, that parking operations tended not to source this product very often.  It was not unheard of for a client to keep a PMS in place for 10 or more years.  At Stanford, we had a homegrown PMS for over 20 years!

Unlike a Parking Access and Revenue Control System (PARCS), which mainly deals with hourly or daily transactions and monthly permit access, a PMS may or may not involve access control.  At Stanford, our PMS has nothing to do with access control.

Since we went with virtual permitting and LPR enforcement in 2018, our ability to pivot our PMS has become easier.  No longer loaded on workstations, PMS is all cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) products.  And with virtual permits, our customers do not need to take any action when our PMS changes.

When our current PMS was sold for a second time to a new company, we decided it was time to control our own fate and ensure we have a PMS that meets our needs and is of our own decision.  Our team did not hesitate to gear up for the procurement process for a new PMS.

An innovative approach we took was to engage with a parking consulting firm to help us develop the RFP and vet potential bidders.  Issuing RFPs for parking management technology is not something we do every day, but our consulting partners have helped other clients do this numerous times.

We engaged with Dixon Resources Limited who did a great job in helping us understand what we needed of our PMS and identify vendors who could issue a proposal.  And Dixon helped us review the proposals we got and getting us to a final selection.  They also had us do sandboxing with several potential proposers so we could try out these systems.  Dixon also helped us identify current users of various PMS and organize calls with them for us.

Our approach to source a new PMS was also done at a pace of our choosing.  We took our time to find the right system and are taking the time needed to implement the new system.

I have begun to see other university peers need to go through PMS sourcing more often than in the past.  The days of decade(s) long use of a PMS, at least in the university world, is coming to an end.  Quite a few of our Pac-12 and Ivy + peers have changed PMS providers or are about to go through the RFP process.

Make use of the great consultants in the parking world and exercise those procurement muscles!  Ensure your operation has the best PMS available to meet your needs.  The way to do that is develop a great RFP and work with an expert to help lead the way.

At Stanford, we are looking forward to launching our new PMS, AIMS later this year or by early 2024.


Brian Shaw, CAPP, is executive director of Stanford Transportation for Stanford University, and co- chair of IPMI’s Education Development Committee. He can be reached at bshaw2@stanford.edu.