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Public Transit in Transition: Implementing ERP for Project Management

Published: March 13, 2015
Josh Jaquish is a technology and business consulting executive with nearly 20 years of experience. Read More

Any project can seem like a mammoth of a task and no matter how big it actually is, people still need to be properly prepared. Projects that affect an entire city are certainly special cases that need to be handled with care. Implementing software such as ERP can help streamline transit project management down to a convenient format. A city such as Boston and its public transit system, the MBTA, provide a good example of how an ERP software suite could benefit from management. 

Budget and Financial Demand

As outlined on the MBTA website, Boston's public transit system has an estimated budget for the 2016 fiscal year of $1.606 billion. With this budget and the goals outlined in the proposal, the MBTA needs an organized system that manages all of the little working parts that create the enterprise as a whole. Of the $276 million set aside specifically for materials and services, 36 percent, or nearly $100 million, is for repairs. These projects, which range from bus tires to elevators, have a separate sub-budget. The projects will have workers, machines and materials that all need to be coordinated and work together in the budget and timeframe allowed. The very delicate system of balance could easily run amok, but has a better chance of staying on task with ERP software. 

Before ERP Launch

In order to have everyone get behind a project management shift of this magnitude, a white paper about ERP implementation in the public sector put out by Purdue asserted that in order to mobilize and align leaders, those advocating for the ERP software need to make a case for change that appeals to as many individuals as possible. In the city of Boston, rallying people behind changes when it comes to the MBTA is not a difficult job. February 2015 was nearly the snowiest month on record for the city and Boston saw many issues with all aspects of public transit. Convincing city officials or voters that a new software could optimize time, money and workers to get the MBTA on par with other large-scale public transit systems, like that of New York City or Chicago, would be a walk in the Common compared to the winter that the Northeast has had to endure. 

ERP software could be the transit solution for cities like Boston all around the country, it's just about choosing the deployment that's right for them. 

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