What's next for transportation software?

January 14, 2021 by Ryan Smithson

What's next for transportation software?

With everything from virtual meetings to ransomware attacks to increased mobile access, businesses and organizations across the world are evaluating what it looks like to move from server-based software to cloud-based software. The pupil transportation industry is living through this shift too, and there is much more to consider than simply what program to use. Successfully implementing cloud-based software can be a challenging task, but there are steps you can take now that will make your transition easier.

With more than two decades of remote hosting experience, Tyler Technologies has migrated many of our clients to cloud-based solutions. We understand the many processes around that move and are always modifying our approach as technology evolves. In this blog, I wanted to take some time to explain some steps you can take now to help set you up for success if you choose to move to cloud-based software.

1. Update your routing map.

For routing software, the street network is like a foundation of a house. If it’s been a decade since you’ve added or modified streets in your current program, then you should consider running a full map update. You can do this either yourself, if possible, or by working with your vendor’s professional GIS (Geographic Information System) team.

2. Think about your custom map rules.

The mapping for pupil transportation includes much more than street lines and speed limits. There are school driveways, hazard areas, walk boundaries, lower speeds for bussing, turn restrictions, and more. If you can make those rules and settings clean now, then you’ll have less surprises moving your database from one system to another and less “clean-up” once the data has been moved.

3. It’s not apples to apples.

Cloud-based software thinks differently than server-based software. For example, your Student Information System (SIS) may end up being on a different server than your routing data, so you’ll need to understand how student imports will work after the transition. Ask your vendor what best practices they’ve developed around moving data or modifying processes like SIS imports. What data can migrate seamlessly and what needs to be recreated in the new system? What key differences can end-users expect? And what does data-sharing look like in the cloud-based world, and how might that change your current processes for communicating with school admin and/or parents?

4. Take control of the demo.

Ask the right questions during a software demonstration. Make a list of the common tasks you complete in your server-based software to make sure you see the equivalent in the cloud-based version. What does it look like to add stops to a run? To change the path of a run? To set up a student with a shuttle to the VoTech building? Don’t settle for “Yes, it can do that.” You should see the software in action, not just on PowerPoint slides or recorded videos.

5. Shop now.

If you’re looking to get started for the start of school, the best time to evaluate your options is the winter before. Waiting until June to watch your first demo will extend your timeline significantly. It may whet your appetite, but not give you or the vendor enough time to successfully implement the data and train your end users before you need to ship postcards to parents. Summer is exceptionally busy in school transportation, so get ahead of it now.

6. Think about how you’ll scale.

Maybe you’re looking for parent apps, GPS, tablets, student ridership, or any number of add-on modules. That all doesn’t happen overnight. Ask your vendor to provide a recommended timeline for adding more solutions in the future. Doing so will not only give you a realistic idea of what’s involved, but it will also help you plan your budget – while also cluing the vendor in so they can train and implement the first steps while focusing on the bigger picture.

Moving to cloud-based software is an important decision, and like any project, it’s about the people and the preparation. Get ahead of it by planning your move now and prepping your data – mapping, students, employees, vehicles, and runs. Done right, this move will set your operation up for years of success! If any of this is important or interesting to you, please call or email Tyler Technologies at 800.433.5530 or info@tylertech.com for a free product demonstration.

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