Three Little Words

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Three Little Words

Fit for Purpose…

I was having breakfast with a buddy here in Melbourne (I’m “down under” attending the Australian Parking Association meet). We were discussing the complexities of parking software system and he mentioned that one of his staff had damned one of his company’s products as being too complex for the job. The staffer said that it wasn’t “fit for purpose.”

It’s like using a machine made by Caterpillar or International Harvester to turn over the dirt in your back garden, when a nice shovel would do perfectly. The Cat did the job , but it wasn’t fit for the purpose.

Many systems we find in the parking environment have similar issues. They do the job, but they also do so much more. Often revenue control systems have features which may seem wonderful on the surface but have no relation to the job at hand. One might be an analysis program for computing long term rate structures in a garage which has only monthly parking. Another may provide the capability to review transactions back years, but the folks running the facility have no understanding of how to pull those tidbits from the complex innards of the system.

The facility needed something that would allow the staff to turn on and off cards and open gates when those cards were presented. The facility owners were prepared to pay staff to provide those functions. The system, however, could also launch the space shuttle. It simply wasn’t “fit for purpose.”

Of course such systems also have other issues. The more complex, the more possibility there is for a problem. Just as a 777 requires more maintenance than a Cessna 150, complex software requires more maintenance than the system than runs the sprinklers in your front yard. You might be willing once a year to change the timer or set the clock when the power goes out, but it’s doubtful if you want to call IBM’s 24/7 hot line when you grass starts to brown.

When we purchase these systems, it seems to me that the first questions we need to ask that that simple one asked by my Aussie’s staffer – is it fit for purpose?

JVH

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John Van Horn

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