6. The Roadmap

In this recording, I create a working vision and use it to create a roadmap to the land of success for our (re)build project.

Skip to a specific part of the recording by clicking on the Episode Timeline:

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In this recording, I create a working vision and use it to create a roadmap to the land of success for our (re)build project.

Skip to a specific part of the recording by clicking on the Episode Timeline:

Episode Timeline
00:00Recap 00:56The Vision 1:45Visualisation Vs. Vision 3:31Visualisation 1 4:57Visualisation 2 5:37Bring Inputs and Outputs Closer Together 10:07Summary


We are at the end of Week 2 and we finally get to address the problems we highlighted in week one’s recordings. Remember?

We are documenting an investigation into whether technology can turn around our parking business that was torpedoed by COVID-19.

I summarized the 3 problems we need to simultaneously solve: The Classic Business Analyst Trinity:

#1: People – specifically the high overheads involved in their on-site deployment;

#2: Processes – specifically their inefficiencies;

#3. Systems – specifically their outdatedness. 

The Vision

So then if I was to create a vision of what this project’s success looks like it would be something along the lines of:

#1: People – specifically much lower overheads to run each site;

#2: Processes – specifically much more efficient process to do most things;

#3: – Systems – specifically modern, easy to use (and affordable) systems.

If these were all achieved AND they translated into financial success then the end of this investigation should be a successfully resurrected business.

Visualisation Vs. Vision

But if you listen to this vision, it sounds like the generic sort of thing a generic CEO would say to their shareholders – LOWER OVERHEADS, MORE EFFICIENCY, LOWER COSTS OF OPERATIONS. These sound more like directives than a vision and most company visions tend be a bit airy anyway so instead of a Vision, I’m going to go through a Visualization. This is to help picture our journey from origin in the wasteland of failure to our destination as a profitable successful post Covid business. Visualization exercises can help us figure out a roadmap of how to get there.

So let’s start – I described what we do and how we do it in a previous recording. We operate in two domains: the office and actual parking site. Attendants are our staff on site; Administrators are in the office and Supervisors work between the two. The majority of our staff are attendants – they do the service delivery in the parking sites or parkades as we call them. Parkades vary in size and complexity. The more attendants we deploy to a site the more expensive it is to run the site. The fewer attendants per site the more profitable and therefore the more VIABLE the site is for a commercial property investor.

Visualisation 1

A visualization could be: Afropark running client parkades with fewer staff just as effectively or even more so than before. Now, this is not simply a case of simply putting fewer people in a parkade – Remember these parkades use very specific systems designed for parkades – they need specific skills of attendants who have been trained on how to use all these systems. Our clients pay a premium for these skills as well as installation, operation and maintenance of the parking systems.

It would be much cheaper and therefore more viable for property owners to put in their own staff; hell they could dump the village in-laws and everyone would be happy… EXCEPT, you really do need some systems – if you don’t have the correct systems or the correct knowledge to run a parkade because maybe the equipment is too expensive and complicated and therefore needs capital plus people with specific knowledge run. Back to square one. Another visualization could be:

Visualisation 2

Afropark (that’s us) installing a single system into each parkade that is simple enough for the in-laws to use and cheap enough to be a relatively small monthly fee… I like that visualization… It’s specific and solves all 3 problems in the classic trinity at once. So then how do we get there? What’s the approach? The Roadmap?

Here’s what I think:

Bring Inputs and Outputs Closer Together

For the processes, I described the basics in a previous recording, of how we deliver on our mission through these things we document called processes. Each has an input and a desired outcome. In between these is a big box made up of many smaller boxes representing discrete tasks – These tasks often involve workers using various systems in order to accomplish them. The fewer of these smaller tasks, the closer the input is to the outcome, the more efficient the process. In an ideal case an input should lead to a desired outcome instantly without any human involvement – e.g. in an earlier recording I gave the described our Customer Account Reactivation Process, where a monthly parker pays for parking and the avalanche of steps in between this input (the payment) and the outcome – which is their access to the property restored at the boom gate.

Ideally, the input of a customer payment, should trigger a series of computers in the background to talk to each other automatically and grant access at the boom gate within milliseconds without any human involvement. Ideally. So my job is to remake each relevant process more efficiently by bringing the Input and Desired Outcome as close together and as automated as possible – Automated – In other words as devoid of human interaction as possible. Ideally this mean replacing multiple systems with a single Unifying system – Centinel.

This is basically redesigning the entire operation which will fundamentally change how we work. It could open up the possibilities of leveraging our existing team to delivery more services to more clients without adding to overheads. A CEOs dream!

As for the System: I’ll be blunt, Centinel needs to be built and run cheaply.

There are already many parking automation systems out there but they have always been a serious capital investment to install – in the hundreds of thousands of Rands. Out of reach for most small business owners. If Centinel is THEE solution – it can only work if we can build an initial Minimum Viable Product – cheaply – that when installed will have an immediate positive financial impact on the parking operation. We need to make Rands out of cents. Pounds from pennies! Also – remember the System needs be easy enough for the in-laws to use.

Property owners essentially pay us to collect money and provide data backing up this money. If the system to enable this is simple enough, we shouldn’t need to be the middleman between the client and their money and data.

Ok – I’ve Spoken about the processes and spoken about the systems – Last and definitely not least, in fact, most importantly – the People. Creating a new system is essentially the task of designing functionality – in other words how the system will work and what it does – much of which will be used by… people. We therefore need to design Centinel functionality around the key people in the parking value chain – from the attendants to the property owners. This means getting their feedback on functionality often and early to avoid building a monster that doesn’t really help anyone – a bit like Frankenstein’s monster – technological resurrection… gone wrong.


So – I’ve said a lot – to summarize everything before signing off:

1. I recapped the main problems we are tackling – in the realms of People, Processes and Systems

2. I went through a visualization of possible solutions to these

3. I went through specific approach or roadmap to realise the visualization – namely  Make Processes Efficient by shrinking the box between input and desired outcome; Build Centinel cheaply as a minimum commercially viable product and get feedback from its intended users as early and often as possible.

With this approach in mind we now have a roadmap and we can now get to our destination hopefully as a successfully resurrected business by using turn by turn gps navigation that will guide me in the next few weeks. In the next recording I’ll breakdown the Centinel build project plan and  start to flesh out details of its design and functionality.

Until then, thank you for listening and be nice to your in-laws!