Making a Case for Centralized Data

Picture this: A mid-sized transit agency has seven departments — finance, HR, maintenance, operations, and a few others. Each department has its own way of tracking data, from spreadsheets to single-function technology solutions, and none of the systems talk to each other.

The agency’s board is looking for a comprehensive report on ridership, revenue, and staffing at the next meeting. Can they pull it off? Can they do it without compromising office morale or everyone’s sanity in the process? 

Sound familiar? This scenario plays out at agencies across the country, and we’re here to tell you that things do not have to be this way. Adopting a centralized approach to data can help teams work with each other and in support of common organization-wide goals. 

Data is the holy grail of any business, and having a common framework to measure key performance indicators will help make your organization more efficient operationally and financially.

With so much uncertainty in our industry right now, it’s the perfect time to start taking steps toward seeing the bigger picture through centralized data and leveraging data analytics.

The Shift to Enterprise Thinking

A common misconception is that moving away from individual systems will cause people to lose their jobs because they’re replaced by computers and algorithms. In reality, the opposite is true. Centralized data makes everyone’s job easier and gives them time to focus on things that software can’t do, like long-term planning and engaging with customers.

Throughout our work with agencies across the country, we’re fortunate to witness those “lightbulb” moments when people realize that enterprise transit management software is not going to make their job more difficult; it’s going to make it easier and free up their time to tackle those things on the to-do list that never seem to get done.

Think about how much time you and your colleagues would save if you did not have to waste it trying to reconcile information from different systems across the organization. How many meetings could you save? How much computation time?

An enterprise solution does all the hard work for you, leaving you free to focus on how you can apply the data toward your agency’s short and long-term needs. You can have information from “hire to retire,” whether that’s a person on your team or a bus in your fleet.

Once enterprise transit management software is in place, you’ll be able to see things like payroll and inventory, and driver start times and bus maintenance side-by-side in one system, rather than having to make multiple requests then spend time figuring out how to reconcile the data.

This increased visibility is critical when budgets are tight and every dollar counts. You can’t make informed decisions without solid data, and no one wants to waste valuable resources as a result of not having a clear picture of where things stand.

Take the Next Steps

Making a move like this requires buy-in from across the organization and convincing people that giving up the control they have over their pieces of data is worth it in the long run.

Our experience has shown that all it takes are a few change champions in an organization to really get the ball rolling and make a big impact. Those people don’t always come from the places you’d expect.

Sometimes the biggest advocates for the change are the people who stay behind the scenes and are not likely to speak up in meetings. They cultivate influence and trust with their peers behind the scenes and can be just the people you need to help build support for new systems and processes.

Now is the time to start identifying who these people are in your organization, and how they might be able to help in the effort to work smarter, not harder. This is also the time to evaluate what your data needs are and what type of technology partner you need to meet them. You might already have a solution in place, but it’s only being used by one team right now.

The bottom line is that you don’t know what you don’t know. And now is the perfect time to start finding answers.