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Why T-Card System Failed Essay

1. INTRODUCTION

The Projects under discussion is T-Card and Myki Ticketing System for NSW and Victoria, the systems T-Card and Myki were initiated to completely automate the old complex ticketing system throughout Sydney and Victoria State. The objectives of the systems were to make the people life easier, simpler and reduce the cost of maintenance which government is currently spending.

1 MYKI Ticketing System

Myki Ticketing System was also designed on the same RFID technology as T-Card but has to be implemented in Victoria which has entirely different ticketing system then Sydney and therefore both the systems were different in functionality. The state govt. realize the need of automation of ticketing system and awarded AU$494 Million tender to Kamco Consortium in 2005 (Smartcard ticketing takes major step forward, From the office of the premier- viewed on 24 sep 2009), the deadline of the system was 2007 and the budget was AU$494 Million but in 2007 the Transport minister announced 1 year delay and the budget was almost doubled which was very disturbing for the taxpayers but the minister said the system will be the best system and it really worth it.

The system was first tested in Geelong bus network in 2007 and was successful, there were some software glitches but the vendor successfully overcome most of it and the test was expanded throughout Victoria and was almost 90% successful which resulted in April 2009 when entire bus services in Bendigo ,Ballarat and Seymour were shifted to Myki (New ticket system starting next week The Courier, published on 30/03/2009 viewed on 25 sep 09) and now Myki is in roll out process and installing throughout Melbourne as well.

2 T-Card Ticketing System

T-Card Ticketing system signifies integrated contactless ticketing system using the RFID Technology. The ticketing system has to replace Sydney buses, Ferries, City Railway and Monorail services. It also includes all the private sector bus, rail and ferries operators as well.

T-Card system was called off in 2008 after Minister of transport John Watkins announced project as a failure, (Case Study) he said the PTTC (Public Transport Ticketing Corporation) is now sure that ERG couldn’t complete the project and therefore left no other choice for the taxpayers and the government. In this regards the Government filed a case of AU$95 Million on ERG and ERG filed a case of AU$250 Million over the Government for illegally terminating the contract.

2.PROBLEMS IDENTIFICATION

The contract of T-Card which was awarded to ERG in 2003 was one of the biggest contracts they have triumph, the others were London’s Oyster, Hong Kong’s Octopus, Singapore’s EZ-link, San Francisco’s TransLink and many more. ERG has a strong background in providing such system all across the world however this smart card technology at that time was unproven and linking the entire buses, ferries, trams and railway networks together was not an easy task, moreover among all the other systems Sydney’s T-Card was unique because of its unique and complex fare system and private transport service providers were included too.

As we know Scope, Time, Cost and Quality are the main four pillars of project management (Robert K Greenleaf , “The four pillars of project management” viewed on 29 sep 09) and mistake in these core functions impacts directly on the critical path, which effects the whole project and decides the project success or failure, moreover these all functions are intimately connected to each other and changes in one function will directly affect others, which makes monitoring/controlling more harder, hence these are very critical functions.

ERG committed some serious blunders in the same regards, they didn’t identify the major key stake holders which resulted in less information about the currently implemented system and lack of involvement showed them the wrong way and they couldn’t define the scope of the system apparently, which affected the cost, quality and time straightforwardly, and turn out to be the reason for T-Card Failure.

2.1.IDENTIFYING KEY STAKE HOLDERS

Initiating is the most complex and the most important phase of any project life cycle, mistakes in the initiating phase usually results in failure, most of the work in this phase is based on experience and predictions and the one responsible must have to have an extensive experience and a vision to see a broad picture, however some of the things are very simple and predefined and committing mistake in those fraction is very rare but unfortunately ERG did that mistakes.

The major problem in the initiating process of T-Card system was identifying the key stake holders. As we have discussed earlier in the introduction, that the T-Card system was designed to automate the Govt. as well as the private service providers of bus, ferries and rail networks (Fare System blamed for T-Card end, Julian Bajkowski, published on 10/06/2008 viewed on 25 sep 09) and therefore those private service providers were also directly linked with the system which makes them one of the major stake holders but unfortunately neither govt. nor ERG group identify them as a stake holders, in-fact PTTC alleged that there is no need to include the Railcorp or any other private transport service providers in contract.

According to Julian Bajkowski, article “Fare System blamed for T-Card End” published on 10/06/2008, he said that “ERG Agreed on bearing the risk of delay caused by lack of engagement support and cooperation by RailCorp” which is completely unacceptable, how a vendor can agree on such a kind of term?

2.2.SCOPE OF THE SYSTEM WAS VAGUE

Without knowing the complexity of the system ERG agreed on all the conditions imposed by the PTTC. Sydney’s ticketing system was very complex because of its multifaceted fare system and ERG was entirely focusing on the technical side of the system which prevented them to see the bigger picture. Technically system is sound because same systems are very successful in other parts of the world but the scope of the system was not defined properly.

To know the complexity of the Sydney’s ticketing system we need to compare it with the rest of Australia, according to Allan Miles in his article “Fix the Fares and you’ll fix the ticket” (published on 30/08/07 viewed on 26 sep 09) he says, you will wonder to know that in whole Australia, Sydney is the only place where you can buy “train ticket”.

It is worth noting that Sydney have more than 70 types of ticket as compare to Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin and Perth having only around 10 to 15 types of tickets (Metropolitan public transport ticket arrangements around Australia viewed on 29 sep 09) and none of them have separate tickets for trains, busses and ferries, most of the systems works on distance travelled or time based ticketing however in Sydney its divided into zones, time, age, profession, type of transport and many more other categories (T-Card is Dead viewed on 30 sep 09) moreover instead of making fares system simpler for the new system the NSW govt. included many more other functionalities in the tickets like rewards for mates, group travel, family ticket, international students/visitors or citizen and so on which is very hard to identify separately.

All the above defined complexities in the ticketing system makes the system looks little unrealistic but it’s not all, the worst part is published by Julian Bajkowski in his article Fare System blamed for T-Card end, he says that the Government argues that though ERG is automating the legacy system for RailCorp, still there is no necessity to provide them the complete details of their legacy system.

Beside such complex and unique fare system now the vendor will not be able to get the complete details of the live system which is currently in place!!! And therefore it is impossible for ERG or any other vendor to automate a system which is unknown to them.

2.3.IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS

As we have discussed earlier that ERG was developing a lot of other systems with Sydney’s T-Card and almost all of the other systems are in place currently and working very efficiently but unfortunately the only system which failed was the Sydney’s T-Card and one of the reason which lead it to failure was in Nov 2007 (Case Study page 8), as the system was very complex and the technology used was unproven at that time and therefore ERG demanded to implement the system progressively in the next 18 months which was very sound and low risk alternative, but the Govt. denied without any specific reason and that really shows the cooperation and relationship between the vendor and the Government.

Suzanne Tindal says in her article “T-Card is dead, T-Card Mark II Coming this year” at ZDNet, that AU$95 Million was thrown into the project, out of which AU$18 Million was used for the purchasing of equipment for buses and rail stations. The question is that without any test, without any proven system, without even near to the success how they can purchase equipment for the whole state.

3.RECOMMENDATIONS

3.1.Tracking System

As we have discussed that the most critical aspects of any project are scope, time, cost and quality, I will ensure that all these aspects remain under control and the finest way to control these triple constraints is to place a proper tracking system on regularly basis and the best way to do that is to have an earned value management system in place which must be supported by the change management. This tracking system will certainly measure the variance between the projected cost and the actual cost as well as the projected schedule and the actual schedule and will point out the hurdles in the way. Moreover if you know something is wrong then it’s easy to identify and eliminate rather than sitting unaware of upcoming risks. Following steps will definitely help us to track the project

– Define milestones early
– Milestones can be either completed or incomplete
– Monitor project’s progress and revise

3.2.Scope Management

One of the major problems was scope creep, in the T-Card system the system boundaries were not defined properly and therefore the system scope was expanding over the time, I will create a requirement specification document which will work as a contract between the PTTC and ERG that what system will be capable of doing and what not.

– Scope must be realistic, define all points clearly
– Involve the concern users throughout scope requirement

3.3.Proper involvement of stake holders

We will include all the private transport service providers with the PTTC throughout the project lifecycle; it will surely create a sense of ownership among them toward the system and will eventually help us building a relationship with the customer and then customer will not consider us an outsider and will share the information required.

3.4.Simplifying the Fare System

Sydney’s currently placed ticketing system is very old and complex but as its working and making money out of it the government believe it’s good, and never thought of changing the way they are working which unfortunately making the maintenance cost of the system very high, but if they make efficient changes in the system operations the transportation will cost less of the currently costing.

We will create a proposal for PTTC for simplification in the fare system which will demonstrate them that changes will not reduce the earnings but will reduce the maintenance cost and eventually raise the profits. The PTTC ignore the option of changing the ticketing process in 2007 because they thought that it might reduce the profits they are earning which is not true and if they will come to know that they are not losing in fact they will earn more, we are sure that they will simplify their system.

3.5.Using the readymade system

Instead of developing a completely new system, I will intensely analyze the systems currently working throughout the world and will consider the one matching the most, it will not only give us an idea what do we have to develop but it will also give an idea to the customer that what kind of system they are going to get. It will buy us some time as well as reduce the risk of failure, because it’s much easy to customize a system already created instead of creating a new one.

3.6.Implementing Progressively

Instead of implementing the whole system over night by which I meant very quickly, I would prefer to implement it progressively over a certain period of time, which will certainly help us to find the problems in the system and provide a best system before it goes to general public. This technique will absolutely work because it will allow us to create functionalities separately and then plug those functionalities into the system over time.

4.REFERENCES

Case Study

Kathy Schwalbe, “Information System Project Management”

Julian Bajkowski, “Fare System blamed for T-Card end”, published on 10/06/2008 viewed on 25 Sep 09 from http://www.misaustralia.com/viewer.aspx?EDP://20080610000020766784

Metropolitan public transport ticket arrangements around Australia viewed on 29 Sep 09 from http://www.ecotransit.org.au/ets/node/123

New ticket system starting next week The Courier, published on 30/03/2009 viewed on 25 sep 09 from http://www.thecourier.com.au/news/local/news/general/new-ticket-system-starting-next-week/1473745.aspx?src=rss

Robert K Greenleaf, “The four pillars of project management” viewed on 29 Sep 09 from http://www.abrachan.org/abrachanorg/html/pillars_of_pm.pdf

Smartcard ticketing takes major step forward, from the office of the premier-
viewed on 24 Sep 2009 from http://www.dpc.vic.gov.au/domino/Web_Notes/newmedia.nsf/798c8b072d117a01ca256c8c0019bb01/f8cef567b8b12e1fca25703e000058a7?OpenDocument


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