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Managing the ITS Implementation

The case study on the Abu Dhabi Integrated Transportation Information and Navigation System (i-TINS) provides an example of how a systems approach is applied in practice. (See Case Study: System Integration (Abu Dhabi)) There are two different aspects to managing the implementation of an ITS project, both of which are important.

The first is done by the Project Manager (PM) and covers all of the work, but with a heavy emphasis on the financial and contractual aspects. It also involves dealing with the ITS service users and customers, some of whom may not be represented by any of the key stakeholders.

A second aspect is the technical or engineering part of the work and is done by someone often called the "technical" or "engineering programme manager". This person will concentrate on the programme of technical work involved in the ITS implementation.

Project Management

Project Management includes managing everything that is necessary to complete the ITS implementation to the satisfaction of its stakeholders. At the outset, project management must make sure that there is an agreed project plan in place and that the plan is followed during implementation. The level of detail must be sufficient for all participants to know what they have to do, the timeframe in which it has to be completed, any dependent project-related activities and the availability of any external resources that are required.

As part of the implementation of the project plan, project management will involve:

  • setting up, agreeing and managing contracts for suppliers, system integrators and communications providers
  • looking after the financial aspects, such as agreeing that payment can be made for work that has been completed
  • acting as a "go between" with stakeholders so that they are fully informed about the progress being made by the ITS implementation and any deviations from the planned programme – as well as addressing any concerns that they may have
  • dealing with the media and working with publicity consultants to provide information (good and bad) about the project in the most appropriate way possible

Acting as a "go between" with stakeholders is a two-way process. It means representing the project to the stakeholders so that they are informed about what is happening and the reasons for it. It also means representing the stakeholders to the project team to make sure that any concerns are addressed – and to deal with any changes that the stakeholders would like to see. These changes can be anything, from planned events to requirements for services – both of which can change as the project progresses during implementation.

Changes to requirements for services are sometimes collectively known as "requirements creep" and can be a natural result of changes in user attitudes towards ITS and developments in technology that make additional and/or revised services possible. (See How to create one?)

The magnitude of the project management activity will depend on the size and scope of the ITS implementation. Aside from the usual factors such as number and scope of services and transport modes, plus geographical coverage, other factors that affect the size of the activity include the numbers of stakeholders, suppliers and communications providers. Some building work may be needed, such as for a control centre, plus other work such as installation of equipment in different locations (for example the roadside) and sometimes the removal and proper disposal of existing components. None of these tasks and activities should be underestimated as some will have their own particular complexities, such as installing a variable message display over a busy part of the road network necessitating temporary traffic restrictions. All of them will need to appear as items in the project plan.

If most activities take place in the ways and at the times shown in the project plan, then the project management activity is not too onerous. It is when there are deviations from the project plan or when contractual difficulties emerge that the demands on project management increase dramatically, in scale, complexity and content. There will be times when (unfortunately) some delicate diplomacy will be needed if all the activities related to the ITS implementation are to be completed with any degree of satisfaction for everyone that is involved.

The project management activities are best carried out by a dedicated Project Manager (PM) who must be appointed before any work actually starts. Who it is will depend on a number of factors. According to the circumstance the PM may come from:

  • a leading supplier
  • the system integrator – if one has been employed
  • a large and/or dominant stakeholder
  • an independent outsider

No matter where they come from, the person who is the PM has to manage all the work to implement ITS on behalf of all those involved, whether they stakeholders or suppliers, and must not favour the interests of a single entity or group at the expense of the others.

Technical or Engineering Programme Management

For the larger ITS implementations which are often complex and have lots of engineering content, it will be beneficial if a separate person is appointed to manage the systems engineering programme. This job can be seen as a "technical project manager" or "engineering manager", because the person doing the job may not get directly involved in the contractual or financial aspects.

The person appointed to be the technical project manager can come from

a dominant supplier, which might be the one that provides all the control and management centre components, or the person, could be from the communications provider.

if a large number of suppliers are involved, a system integrator can be appointed to which the programme manager will belong. The system integrator is often a specialist organisation and should preferably be one with a proven track record of implementing ITS and a knowledge of the particular services that the stakeholders want ITS to provide.

Whatever the origins of the person managing the systems engineering programme, they need to be able to manage all of the steps shown in the system engineering "V" model (See Systems Engineering Programme) according to the project plan.

Advice to Practitioners

Obviously it is important to have the right numbers of staff involved in the management of the ITS implementation. For the project management part of this work, there is nothing better than an experienced Project Manager (PM), preferably with some recognised professional qualifications in project management. Experience of working in ITS is not necessary, as the PM is primarily concerned with contractual and financial matters, but knowledge of local laws and customs will be advantageous. Ideally the PM should be appointed before the "procurement" stage of the ITS implementation starts. This enables them to be involved in the final contract negotiations and to take ownership of the agreed terms and conditions. It also means that they can produce or validate the project plan at an early stage, which will enable it to have the most beneficial impact on the project. The PM should also participate in the negotiations for any sub-contracts covering specialise activities, such as building works and installation of components at the roadside.

As noted above, the PM may come from a leading supplier, or the system integrator (if one has been employed), or a large and/or dominant stakeholder, or be a complete outsider. Once the ITS implementation has been completed they can move on to other work. But if the ITS implementation needs any upgrade or improvement work, then it will be of benefit to use the same PM again to take advantage of their previous experience and any relationships they have built up with any of those who will be involved.

Similar comments apply to the person managing the systems engineering programme, the "technical project manager" or "engineering manager", except that it will be a definite major advantage if they have some previous experience of working in ITS. They should be appointed as part of the "procurement" stage of the ITS implementation, perhaps as part of the contract with a supplier, communications provider, or system integrator.

The advantage of having a systems engineering programme manager who is employed by one of the main stakeholders is that person could also be retained for work on any upgrade or improvement work that the ITS implementation requires in the future, to take advantage of the knowledge of its complexities that will have been gained from the previous work. The resourcing of staff for individual component and communications development and testing will be a matter for the suppliers and providers involved, but should be expected that the person or people involved will have some relevant experience.

Issues for Developing Economies

For developing economies, finding the right people for the project management and systems engineering programme management roles may be difficult. If expertise in either of these roles is available locally, it is more likely to be that for project management. Employing a person with knowledge of local laws and customs will be a definite advantage.

Finding a suitable person locally for the engineering programme management role will probably be more difficult. This will be particularly true if there is no local expertise in ITS related technologies and communications.

There are several consultancy companies specialising in ITS implementation that will be able to provide engineering programme managers with suitable experience. These companies vary in size from large international organisations with offices in several parts of the world, to small single person organisations. The former are likely to have a broader range of experience of implementing ITS services than single person organisations, but this does not necessarily make them any better. It is best to do some research to find out what actual ITS implementations they are working on currently and have worked on in the past to assess their experience. Also communicating directly with their actual customers will almost always provide a much better idea of how good they are.

Ideally what is needed is an organisation that is prepared to set up a local office and to recruit and train local people in engineering programme management. This will have definite advantages in that the knowledge gained from a particular ITS implementation can be retained locally and be used in any future ITS related work.

Further Information

Project management is now a discipline in it its own right. So it should be possible to find someone, or an organisation with the knowledge and experience to perform all the activities correctly and in the right way. There are organisations that actively promote the professionalism of project management and offer access to qualifications for project managers. The largest of these is the Project Management Institute ( that has branches (called chapters) in most parts of the world. It has published a book called "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge", which is now in its 5th edition.

Reference sources

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