Derek Ellis, Product Owner – Flex/PE
T2’s Parking Perspectives series draws from the experiences of T2ers that have previously worked in parking departments at universities, municipalities, and operators, including many who are former T2 customers. From this experience comes a level of expertise that understands parking and mobility from a holistic perspective, helping us provide better service and solutions to our customers.
Permit season is upon us, and for many it’s the first one since 2019! It can be hard to remember how to do something you did one year ago, let alone two, but it’s important to make sure you’re ready to go on that first day of sales.
I experienced my first permit season in 2013 at Oregon Health & Science University. It was the first one done through Flex – we had just gone live with T2 a month or two prior to that – so it was a new process for all of us. After working at T2 on the Flex Support team, I quickly realized those challenges we faced at OHSU are not unique at all.
Here’s some advice based on my own experiences and from helping others on how to best prepare for a successful permit sale.
Give Yourself Time
Some people may work best with a tight deadline, but do yourself a favor and start planning and configuring your permit sales well in advance. Even if you’re still trying to nail down rates or eligibility, there’s a real benefit to configuring as much as you can ahead of time. The earlier you have things set up, the more time you have to do internal testing to ensure that when your sale goes live you have everything ready to go.
Review Past Successes
Did your last permit sale go off without a hitch? Great! That means you have a template to look at for this upcoming sale. Take some time to look at all the settings and configurations on those old permits and get a feel for how everything came together to make for a successful permit season. Chances are you can apply most of it to your new permits for this year. In addition to making the setup of this year’s permits easier, you’ll be getting a refresher on how permits are configured in Flex for next time.
Test, Test, Test
There were a few times I put too much faith in my product knowledge and thought I could get away with not testing something. I used to laugh at my former coworker Laurel’s massive Excel spreadsheet full of testing items to go through each year. You may get lucky a few times, but there’s nothing like a wave of phone calls from customers who aren’t able to get their permits to bring you back to reality. There’s no getting around it. Testing can be boring and tedious, but it sure feels good going to bed the night before a big permit sale knowing that you’re good to go. Especially if that sale starts at midnight!
You may be a “Flexpert” and can setup permits in Flex in your sleep, but what if another career opportunity comes along that takes you somewhere else? Every permit season there are cases from customers who lost their Flex guru and desperately need help to get their permits set up this year. Next time you’re going through the process, why not jot down the steps you go through each year? By doing so, not only do you have a handy reference for yourself, but if you ever leave your organization and take your knowledge with you the individuals responsible for setting things up next time are much more prepared for a successful permit season.
Roll with the Punches
As we all know, even with lots of preparation and confidence things can sometimes just go wrong. That’s okay! Just make sure you have a contingency plan. At OHSU we had a documented process for how to handle sales in different situations, such as the internet being down at the office. Our customers might have thought it was weird watching staff jotting down information to put into Flex later, but in most cases it meant there wasn’t a line quickly snaking out the door and around the corner. Bonus points if you have the old credit card imprinters ready to dust off to really blow some minds.
It’s important for T2 to be prepared for your permit season as well. Having a large permit sale? Let us know! Sales bring traffic, and we want to make sure that your sale goes as smoothly as possible. Reach out to your Account Manager for more information on how to report your future permit sales.
Derek is the Product Owner for T2 Flex and has over 16 years of experience in the IT industry, with 9 of those specifically in transportation and parking. Before moving to his current position, Derek was a Product Support Engineer on the Flex Support team. He came to T2 from Oregon Health & Science University, a T2 customer, where he supported the T2 product lines and their integrations with the other components of OHSU’s parking operations. Derek’s product knowledge, combined with operational experience, give him a better understanding of customers’ daily struggles and how T2’s products can be used to make their operations more efficient.