National Academies Press: OpenBook

Airport Software Solutions and Services Sourcing (2022)

Chapter:Chapter 7 - Conclusions

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Page 40
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 7 - Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Airport Software Solutions and Services Sourcing. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26735.
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Page40
Page 41
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 7 - Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Airport Software Solutions and Services Sourcing. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26735.
×
Page41
Page 42
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 7 - Conclusions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Airport Software Solutions and Services Sourcing. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26735.
×
Page42

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40 Conclusions Major Conclusions An era of increased competition and diminishing resources, coupled with tech-savvy cus- tomers’ demands, are making information technology business units the nexus of technology procurement processes. Procurement and IT departments need to agree on and disseminate a shared definition of technology in order to streamline communication and promote educational opportunities. With technology defined, IT and procurement departments can create categories within an airport enterprise. Hardware, also referred to as hard technologies, is tangible. Software, or soft technologies, are intangible. For procurement purposes, technology services fall into one of two categories: (a) managed services or (b) software as a service (SaaS). Delineating these categories allows for refined reviewing processes and necessary updates to purchasing policies, funding thresholds, and purchasing option designations (such as retainers for mobile com- mand centers). Adopting updated procurement policies creates a system for further modernization appli- cable to all governance structures within an airport. Technology can be inserted to automate workflows and increase efficiencies through advance tracking and reporting as well as monitor- ing of errors. Staff members can redirect their attention to integrated planning, thereby aligning the airport with standards for excellence in procurement. Most Frequently Used Sourcing Vehicles Sourcing is used to identify the technology tools that best suit the needs of the airport. It is a subset of procurement and happens before a purchase is made. Sourcing options are direct, strategic, and automated. The most common type of sourcing vehicle is direct. Word of mouth from other airports; information obtained through conferences, workshops, and webinars; and online research are the direct vehicles most applicable to the world of airports (Maurice Songy, personal communication, December 18, 2020). Procurement Rules That Create the Most Friction The needs analysis process at most airports lacks substance and depth. Many people believe that procuring technology will generate a solution, but this may not always be the case. Enhanc- ing the needs analysis to include a process for evaluating capabilities obliges the requester to communicate the perceived need and propose a solution. Making sure the why is understood upgrades procurement processes and solves the root issue of poor understanding of the capability being sought from a technological solution. C H A P T E R   7

Conclusions 41 Policies and procedures tend to reflect legacy models, especially in publicly owned airports. Highly recognized processes are accepted at face value rather than sparking the questions. Pro- curement and IT professionals who ask why often create change opportunities. For example, airport procurement professionals transitioning from other public entities can explain the ITN process. Implementing this process at an airport can help it to transition away from using an RFP process as a primary means for technology procurement to using it only rarely. Procurement planning and technology processes should focus on economies of scale. Buying that is based on timing and volume opens the door for negotiations and often leads to less expen- sive acquisition of preferred solutions. Studying suppliers’ fiscal years and capturing lifecycle replacement trends can equip professionals with the data needed for optimal buying. Technology silos, or applications and software that do not communicate or cannot be accessed by other departments, limit exposure to features, functions, and collaboration opportunities. When combined with shift work, end-users are not aware of the technology infrastructure that is capable of addressing their needs. Generating opportunities to share technology enhances awareness of potentially underutilized technology while improving interdepartmental commu- nication. Technology vendors also benefit, as strategic labeling may have unknowingly limited their business development opportunities. Effective Sourcing Variations A request for information is becoming increasingly popular as a means to gain a better under- standing of technology options. Broad RFIs tend to receive a range of replies and can be helpful in narrowing technical specifications. Many airports are also exploring what other airports are creating in-house. Piggybacking vehicles can be negotiated between airports (Aneil Patel, personal communication, January 24, 2021). The proof of concept process described in the Tampa International Airport case example is another vehicle that has been shown to be effective. Invitations to negotiate allow an airport to demonstrate technology in order for it to under- stand the capability needed to develop solicitation requirements or contract specifications. Cooperative arrangements and public-private partnerships can transfer exploration and risks to alternate government agencies or the private sector. Contractual clauses can include sourcing, clear decision-making hierarchies, and standardized procurement practices. Gaps in Knowledge and Further Research Needs Education models are expected to evolve into four types as a result of labor market changes (Zimmerman 2019). Learning how these models will create future procurement and technology specialties is necessary given the expected rise of technology and machine learning. Research into alternate options or pilot technology deployment for diagnostic purposes could increase productivity and efficiency in rural areas, especially for nonprimary airports. For example, rural Alaska is limited to just one company for troubleshooting and repairs; alternate options could help to alleviate backlogs. Rules and regulations create the backbone for policy creation and implementation. Quick ref- erence guides or a web resource to help staff members navigate airport workflows could include traditional documentation (such as templates), access to smart contracts, and innovative busi- ness model approaches strategically designed for airports in response to the pandemic. Research

42 Airport Software Solutions and Services Sourcing into an embedded portal for sharing procedures and best practices could lead to efficiencies and more certifications, such as NIGP accreditation. Airline crashes resulting from engine part failures have increased focus on critical infrastruc- ture. Technology to track airplane engines’ past performance and longevity is an option that can incorporate procurement and IT departments along with a host of decision-makers, including the airline representatives. Airports and airlines have received federal funding to offset budgetary challenges resulting from COVID-19, allowing privatization of procurement to become an option. Research and guidance on privatization may be attractive to airport governing authorities and investors.

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The technology procurement process includes sourcing and acquiring software, hardware, and services. Systems and nuances of technology procurement vary within each airport, and navigating such variances at a pace that meets the airports’ needs and technology evolution can be challenging.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Synthesis 120: Airport Software Solutions and Services Sourcing identifies the efficient and innovative technology sourcing and procurement practices developed by airports.

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