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Supporting technology adoption and change management

As engineering consultants, we rarely discuss our role in advising and assisting clients with adopting new technologies and managing change. Clients trust us to deliver infrastructure projects, and now often seek our assistance in planning, selecting, implementing, and testing technology solutions. 

Our role in technology, information management, and change management can range from technical to operations improvements, depending on the client's organizational readiness and capacity. 

The extent of our responsibilities varies based on the sector and clients. We support change management efforts by identifying future roles and responsibilities for managing the new technology and data, or by developing user training programs. 

On infrastructure engineering projects, we mitigate the risk of failure through design measures such as redundancy and safety factors. We carefully choose materials and equipment that are tested and proven, and we follow a systematic approach from concept to design, leveraging industry standards and our experience to meet short- and long-term client needs. 

We enhance the value we provide by incorporating adaptability into our designs. This ensures that the assets we create can accommodate changes in the operating environment. There is the same expected level of care and consideration for technology selection, adoption and advancement.

By effectively mitigating risks and designing with the future in mind, we deliver solutions that address our clients' needs in a complex and rapidly evolving landscape.

What does it mean to take a systematic and supportive approach to these projects? 

A systematic approach refers to a structured and methodical way of approaching a task, problem, or process. It involves following a predefined set of steps or a logical sequence to ensure consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness in achieving the desired outcome.

Clearly defining this approach helps to “demystify” and guide the client through the entire decision-making process. In a systematic approach, each step builds upon the previous one and contributes to the overall objective. The process typically involves the following key activities: Analysis and Planning; Design and Development; Implementation and Execution; Evaluation and Feedback; and Continuous Improvement.

Analysis and Planning: This stage involves gathering information, analyzing the situation or problem, and defining the goals and objectives. We collaborate with the client and stakeholders to understand the context, identify constraints, and develop a comprehensive plan to guide the subsequent steps. On technology projects, this can take the form of a Needs Assessment, Concept of Operations, analysis of business process and workflows, technology landscape and systems architecture, and determination of the key drivers of success, and potentially, new roles and responsibilities.

Design and Development: In this phase, documents such as the Needs Assessment are translated into a design or solution with clearly defined specifications, technical and/or performance based. This phase may involve creating pilot projects, a test bed to conduct experiments or developing models to help visualize impacts (e.g. responsive or adaptive signal control along a transportation corridor with failing levels of service). This phase aims to ensure that the solution is well-designed, feasible, affordable, and aligned with the desired outcome. Through several iterations, the procurement strategy becomes clearer based on all the information available. Associated Engineering may support or be directly responsible for the Request for Proposal (RFP) package, including system specifications, contract terms and conditions, and definition of key milestones and deliverables for the technology supplier. Often, we develop scoring criteria on behalf of our clients to balance price, technology functionality, and performance history that aligns with project objectives and offers the best value.

While it is important to establish a baseline and acknowledge that it does not change quickly, clients can and do grow and evolve during the project as they become more aware of challenges and opportunities. This information may shift the outcomes of the Design and Development activities which we must align with a client’s short-, medium-, and long-term needs before proceeding into procurement. 

In our upcoming Fall 2023 issue of AE Today, Judy will discuss Implementation and Execution; Evaluation and Feedback; and Continuous Improvement of technology.

About the Author

Judy Yu, P.Eng., PMP is Discipline Lead, Data Management & ITS in Associated Engineering's Calgary office. She has 23 years of experience managing major Intelligent Transportation Systems programs and projects, focusing on innovation, operational improvement, ongoing sustainability, and information management. Judy is a senior member of Associated's Strategic Advisory Services team and a member of the ITS Canada Board of Directors.

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