[music] [Title slide: "Public Sector" is in the center and the title of the event: "Collaborating with end users to improve legacy modernization outcomes" is displayed in the middle of the screen. The blue CAI logo with "We power the possible" is below the title in the center.] [3 speakers appear on screen. Kelly Lehman, CAI, appears in the top left corner, Art Weaver, High Transit LLC, appears in the top right corner, and Ben Huffnagle, CAI, appears below the top two speakers in the center. The CAI logo with "We power the possible" is in the lower right corner.] 00:00:09 - 00:01:17 Ben Huffnagle Good afternoon. On behalf of CAI, I want to welcome everybody to this LinkedIn live. Today, we're going to be discussing why actively and intentionally involving end users is critical for steering a large-scale legacy modernization project to success. To do this and elaborate, we're going to be discussing PA Department of Transportation's modernization of their APRAS system and talk about how collaboration with industry leaders like Art Weaver from High Transit help our client to develop a best-in-class user experience. Now, I will say, as we go on throughout this session, we will be keeping an eye on the comments. If you have questions, feel free to put them there. We'll address any that we can get to during this session. If not, we'll be checking them later today. Before we get rolling, I do want to introduce our panel. ["Kelly Lehman, Project Manager, CAI" lower lefthand corner] Kelly Lehman has 25 years of IT experience and has expertise in UX design, business process engineering as well as project management. During her time with CAI, she's led requirement sessions, focus groups, other requirement solicitation as well as getting into UI design and has led multiple project teams of various sizes. Currently, she is leading the APRAS modernization effort. Welcome, Kelly. 00:01:17 - 00:01:19 Kelly Lehman Thank you, Ben. Happy to be here. ["Art Weaver, Permit / Escort Coordinator, High Transit LLC" lower lefthand corner] 00:01:20 - 00:01:49 Ben Also, we have with us, Art Weaver. He has a career that spans more than 32 years with the High companies. 20 of those as a flatbed tractor/trailer driver, and the next 10 in administration and recently, have been managing the oversize/overweight permit and escort department. Of note, Art graduated in 2020 from Elizabethtown College with a bachelor's in business administration with a concentration in business management. This was made possible not only by the support of the High companies but also the Elizabethtown College Adult Degree program. Welcome, Art. 00:01:50 - 00:01:53 Art Weaver Hello, everyone. Ben and Kelly, thank you for inviting me today. ["Ben Huffnagle, Modernization Program Manager, CAI" lower lefthand corner] 00:01:54 - 00:02:21 Ben I'm Ben Huffnagle, Modernization program manager within CAI's Transportation vertical, currently supporting CAI's account with PennDOT. Before we dive into a lot of this, we're going to be referencing the APRAS system a lot. For those that aren't as familiar, APRAS stands for the Automated Permit Routing and Analysis System, but with such a big name, luckily, it's only known as APRAS for those that use it. Kelly, do you mind giving everybody just a quick overview of what APRAS is and why it's important? 00:02:22 - 00:03:05 Kelly Sure thing, Ben. As you mentioned, this is a system for a PennDOT and it is used to manage the oversize/overweight permits needed to transport product or manufacturing items across the state that exceed the legal limits, so with height, weight, and length. Applications are submitted roughly about 400,000 a year and they go through an analysis process to ensure the safety of the infrastructure, to ensure that bridges can be crossed over without causing some sort of harm to them and protecting that infrastructure. 00:03:06 - 00:03:39 Ben With the system that went live, if I recall it, in 1998, one of the things with this important analysis with protecting the infrastructure and something hang the hat on is there've been no bridge strikes or collapses with a permanent route that stays within their dimensions, so obviously, safety-critical with this, but with the system as old as that-- I know, Art, from a business perspective, you and some other folks at High, some other industry leaders, have reached out to PennDOT about why the APRAS system may need some modernization. You touched on some of the things that you had seen that you shared. 00:03:40 - 00:06:10 Art I think it's important to note that when PennDOT released the original APRAS, it was a pretty monumental feat. You could get an auto-issued permit, standard issue permit 24/7, which 20-plus years ago, that was pretty remarkable. Of course, now fast forward to 2020-ish, when we started implementing it, it's been passed by other systems, a lot of the modern systems we're using, Google Map-based routing, which was a big improvement. The routing was probably the most difficult part of the original APRAS screen if any of you out there have had experience with it, which I'm sure you do. There was a lot of data thrown at you in one screen and it just needed to be cleaned up. It was very intimidating for new usersm and there were certain nuances that if you weren't familiar with what to enter when, it was very frustrating in trying to get a completed application. That was another thing that was brought up. If you went through all the time to enter all your permit information, you got a good route figured out. You upload traffic control plans and other documents, and then the application ended up getting denied. The only way to fix that was to go back and start all over again. All the documents had to be re-uploaded with a new application number. It was just very time consuming. For a business, High Transit or whatever business you're in, time is money, and people that work in the shipping office, the permit department like myself are overhead for these businesses. We're not really producing anything. All we're doing is creating paperwork that allows the loads to move, and there's a lot of people and a lot of steps involved in moving these loads. You have fabrication people, truck loaders, dispatchers, the drivers, mechanics keeping the equipment rolling. You get all those things lined up, and if you don't have a permit, the load doesn't go, so it's like the last step. The permit team is the last rung on the ladder. If we don't do our job, you'll have cranes and groups of union ironworkers on these jobs with nothing to do and that's costly for a company like High. 00:06:11 - 00:06:12 Ben Oh, absolutely. [crosstalk] 00:06:13 - 00:06:29 Art I'm just going to add one other thing that PennDOT is our home state and PennDOT's really good to work with. We had no problem in discussing some of the things that we would like to see, so we appreciate them following through and working with you on that. 00:06:30 - 00:08:10 Ben Absolutely. You mentioned the business reasons that were here but also for any system, as it ages, there are technical reasons that needed to be looked at but also some reasons for hesitancy when approaching modernization. With an aging codebase, with potentially aging infrastructure, it gets increasingly outdated and the cost and the time to maintain it just goes up. As a example of this, there were core portions of APRAS that were still written in COBOL. Obviously, as developers move on to replace them to be able to have people, that skillset is going down. Also, it may require older components so you can't necessarily benefit from newer platforms with security, stability, performance, and the like. One of the big things, as we looked at this, PennDOT or the APRAS system not only had some legacy data but relies on other legacy systems and some of that data, especially the spatial data wasn't there yet. When we talk about putting in a routing system, how do we do this, what do we want to do, and then also looking at the length of time. What we were able to do with a custom solution was not only prioritize, meet the data where it is, and not put up walls to say, well, if you want to modernize this system, modernize these five over here first but also figure out how it works so we could get some functionality out first, deliver that value rather than saying, "That's great. We're going to start [unintelligible 00:07:56] in four years." One of the key aspects here and what we want to focus on for why this has been successful was involving end users in this. Kelly, can you touch on just what was the overall strategy for end-user involvement project? 00:08:11 - 00:08:34 Kelly Sure. Just given the complexity of the overall system for APRAS and the varying types of users, we felt that a continual engagement from the user community throughout the project would help ensure a deeper understanding of the existing features, the business rules, regulation, and the legislation for the project. 00:08:35 - 00:08:51 Ben Not just [unintelligible 00:08:35] at the beginning and then see in a long time. I think also a lot of projects I've seen talk to a very small number of users. How did you go about identifying the level of user involvement wanted and who we should get involved? 00:08:52 - 00:09:55 Kelly We took a look at a lot of things. We wanted to ensure we had a strong representation from all types of users and users with different permit volume. We looked at district offices that had unique needs for urban and rural. Some had [unintelligible 00:09:08]. Some had higher volumes than others. The differences between bridges and tunnels, all had complexities, so we wanted to make sure we had representation from many of the districts. We also wanted a strong representation from the carriers, those that manufacture and haul their own products such as High Transit or other carriers that haul products that are produced by other companies. There are also permit services that use this system to procure permits on behalf of a motor company that may only do a few moves a year. We also wanted to make sure that we had representation from not just local folks in PA that haul on PA but across the nation. 00:09:56 - 00:10:10 Ben Really casting a wide net trying to get as many people involved in the system with varied users. You've got your stakeholders, you got your people identified, you want to bring in. At what points in the project did you look to inject some of that involvement? 00:10:11 - 00:12:31 Kelly We knew that having them involved in several places was going to help us identify critical things sooner rather than later. What we didn't want is to get to UAT or to production and find out we missed a key feature. We worked with first our core central office stakeholders. We met with them nearly daily, so we thank them tremendously for their participation and all of the very many meetings. At the very, very early start of the project, we also started polling carriers to understand what their painpoints were, what their favorite features were, what they liked and disliked about the existing system. We also had a wonderful opportunity to visit a few motor carriers on site and were able to see how they're using the system today, what they were doing at the time, what their needs were. A few of them even gave us a nice snapshot view of how systems work for other states and what features they liked and didn't like in other states so that we could maybe avoid some pitfalls or consider some other new features. Also, throughout the requirements and the design, we engaged districts carriers and all of the types of users to really understand their perspective as we were developing requirements. As we developed mockups, the visual screens that we were planning to build, we would send them out and get feedback on them so that we could, again, continue to, very early on, identify things that we might be missing or might have misunderstood or refinements that are needed. Of course, lastly, even during development, we would do a number of early demonstrations out to some of the carriers and the business partners that we needed to show them either features or major components that were developed to start really getting some of that feedback. Art at High Transit was one of those folks that was able to participate in those. 00:12:32 - 00:12:46 Ben Yes. Not to cut you off, Kelly, but I do want to lean into this. I seem to remember there were a couple of times that you were part of the group that came on-site to see the application as it was being built to get a sneak preview, what was that like? 00:12:47 - 00:13:57 Art Yes, absolutely. That was great. We got to provide the input about what we would like to see. We got to say what things we thought were good, what things were not so good. Best of all, what was really exciting to see as we provided this input and met with you guys, we were able to see some of our suggestions actually take life in what you were building. It's funny now but it wasn't funny at the time. One of my suggestions was to put a warning when you click on a withdrawal application before it actually disappears, which now it does say, "Are you sure you want to delete this application?" One of my worst days permitting was working on a very high-profile superload and it was coming down to the wire to get the permit. I clicked on what I thought was review reasons, so I could see where it was at in the review status. However, I hit withdrawal application and it disappeared forever. Every time I'm on the new modernized APRAS and I see the message, "Are you sure you want to delete this?" I appreciate that. 00:13:58 - 00:14:02 Ben Not to peek behind on the curtain a little bit, Art, but you know we only have that turned on if Art Weaver [unintelligible 00:14:02] 00:14:03 - 00:14:05 Art [laughs] I believe that, Ben. Thank you. 00:14:06 - 00:14:14 Ben Kelly, going through development, getting ready to go with production, now, where else did you look to involve end users there? 00:14:15 - 00:15:58 Kelly We continued working with end users throughout the testing and specifically the UAT testing, the User Acceptance testing, working with that in a phased approach where we held multiple UATs to go through, get refinement, not just looking for defects but ensuring that this was going to work for people. We also looked at a phased approach for rollout to production because we wanted to A, make sure it was very controlled. This is a major application. It's a revenue generator. This impacts infrastructure. We wanted to take our time with this. Since we rolled out with one carrier first, which happened to be High Transit, and then expanded to larger and larger groups, as we were going through this, we were getting to also test out our training materials, make refinements as needed so that when we got to the core, the bigger groups, we had very refined training materials. This was proceeding in early 2020, and then COVID. The whole world was grappling with the unknown, but the thing we can all recognize is essential businesses still needed their product moved and some of that still required oversize and overweight permits, because we've had this very continued engagement with users and so much of it had already been virtual. Both the business unit, our folks at PennDOT that we worked with, and the CAI team was very comfortable with proceeding with the rollout to production, and the production rollout was completed in June of 2020. 00:15:59 - 00:16:19 Ben To me, I think the biggest part as we went with that rollout as well, besides COVID being the biggest part, was felt like we had done the work to establish that level of trust with the end users, at least those we had been able to be in close contact with that helped. Art, Kelly mentioned that High was the first carrier in the door, and what was that like? 00:16:20 - 00:16:55 Art That was really exciting. It was like Mission Control in here. We had representatives from CAI. We had PennDOT representatives. If anything would go wrong on that day, there was no need to wait in a help queue. Everybody was right there on site. Kelly was sitting beside me at my desk and guiding me through the application process. We put all the information in, submitted it, and it auto-approved. For me, that's going to be a very memorable time. When that first permit rolled off the printer, it was really awesome. 00:16:56 - 00:17:09 Ben Absolutely. I still have a paper copy of that permit over here is the first one through. I will say the thing that does stand out to me on that day was it got very boring, very fast, which for anybody that has rolled out something in a production, that's exactly what you want. 00:17:10 - 00:17:11 Art Exactly. 00:17:12 - 00:17:23 Ben Art, we've talked about a couple of specific points throughout the project where you're involved, but you speak more generally about some of your involvement and why you think it was important and beneficial. 00:17:24 - 00:18:38 Art Yes. I remember we met in the conference room here at High and it was the first time we had all met. I had my team with me and your team was there. Basically, we just brainstormed on what we would like to see. Kudos to your team. You had done your homework. You were familiar with APRAS. When we said about something that we might like to see changed, you were like, "Yes, I recognize that and I agree with you." Again, the original APRAS, it was outdated but it was a good system in its time. It just needed to be rebuilt along those same lines. My team and I, I'm one of several permitters here and of course, High Transit is one of many, many businesses in the country. APRAS is also influential and moves for around the world so it's just not our little state of Pennsylvania here. Everybody was able to give their input in what they would like to see. Your team listened and we could tell right away that you were as serious about getting this right as we were in wanting a newer system. I'm going to have to hit my light here. 00:18:39 - 00:18:40 Ben Yes, they're kicking you out again. 00:18:41 - 00:19:36 Art There we go. Sorry, it's on a motion detector. That was the impressive thing to us. You listened to what we had to say. We knew you were serious about implementing it and like Kelly had said, there are other companies that had their input and I'm sure they did the same thing. Definitely, right off the bat, there was a level of trust built with you and your team. We knew you were serious about it. We had some laughs. We had fun. It was very easy to meet with you. We could go over the best of the best and the worst of the worst because we work a lot in other states. We do hundreds of permits a week, and we were familiar with some of the newer systems you were very receptive into. We even showed some screenshots of what we like and knowing the whole time, you're going to build this, this is going to be your system but you welcome that input and we all recognize that as part of my team. 00:19:37 - 00:20:20 Ben Absolutely. I know one of the biggest things as well that was helpful to bring you all in, with us trying to test, we're talking about exceedingly variable loads, exceedingly variable routes, your team being able to get in the system and say, "Hey, we tried this route here. It didn't work." being able to do that was exceedingly helpful. You have that experience. We're a bunch of software engineers. We don't know necessarily how big a crane's going to be or a big piece of steel or where it might want to go. That was excellent. We've talked about some of the benefits here, and I do want to pivot a little bit. Kelly, we're involving a bunch of end users, big projects, talk about why it's really good, but what was one of the, say, probably biggest challenges of the approach? 00:20:21 - 00:21:02 Kelly The biggest challenge is really the most obvious challenge as there's always a lot of strong opinions from different stakeholders that have different needs. Working through that, understanding what their needs were to ensure things were going to work for all of the parties involved. We went through, as I mentioned before, many rounds of feedback in gaining additional information and truly understanding what the specific need was because we recognized we were making a system not just for one carrier or one set of users but one that was going to fit everyone that needed to use it. 00:21:03 - 00:22:22 Ben Absolutely. What I want to highlight as we come towards the end as well is, we talked about the process, we talked about the problem but let's show our cards and talk about some of the results. From a technical perspective, the modernized application, completely greenfield now, is we've replaced the legacy codebase with a single-page application powered by [unintelligible 00:21:25] with some Spring-based microservices on the backend. Also, working with our excellent partners at PennDOT, we've now been able to host this up in the cloud, not only improving the performance but also saving costs on the infrastructure as well. The biggest success to the team, I talked about how some of the supporting systems don't have spatial data necessarily, but able to have a fully routing-enabled system with some of those as well, and not only designed the modernized APRAS system to interface with those legacy systems but also tried as much as possible to future-proof it. We recognize some of those other systems may be modernized in the next couple of years and we want to make the solution not be brittle, so tolerant to these changes, not only work with the systems of today but as they go forward and get modernized. Art, from a business perspective though, what are some of the improvement you've seen from new APRAS? 00:22:23 - 00:24:23 Art It's an incredible improvement. 25 years ago, APRAS was cutting edge, and of course, we talked about how it needed some updating, but we're right there again. Pennsylvania's system, in my opinion and the opinion of my coworkers, it's our favorite system to work with. We're saving time on applications. Time is money, of course, so we're saving the company money but also the rate at which we can get approved permits. We're much more certain of ourselves and we're much more knowledgeable on route restrictions. The homepage has a nice map on it and it's marked in yellow and red. If there's any restrictions, you just click on it and there it is. The standard issued permits are still 24/7 and I benefited from that last night. I was here getting a very complicated route using the via points that you were talking about, connecting the dots into a truck-friendly route and I got a permit, so the truck was able to leave first thing this morning. On superload permits, we do a fair amount of superloads. Even they're not auto-routed but the process to submit them is much easier. We get them back from PennDOT from their review much quicker. The system, if I had to describe it in one way, it just flows much better. It's not overwhelming. It's pleasing to the eye. A new user who has relatively little experience applying for permits can go through that system and probably get a permit with minimal instruction. It just all makes sense with the modern tools that we have. Like I said, it's just we're hitting our mark with getting issued permits a lot more than what we used to without all the confusion of having to resubmit. That is great. 00:24:24 - 00:24:40 Ben Absolutely. Again, I think sitting with all of you understanding the process you have enabled us to do that. We can't thank you enough for what you and your team at High did as we run the project and how you helped, as well as all the other carriers and permit services that we sat with throughout this project. 00:24:41 - 00:24:55 Art I'd like to extend that back to you and your team. [The bottom left hand corner shows "learn more at www.cai.io" ] Thank you so much for the great job you did. Also, thank you to PennDOT because they were the ones that were in charge. This is their system and they agreed that it needed an upgrade, so thank you to everyone. 00:24:56 - 00:25:38 Ben Absolutely. On behalf of CAI, I want to thank Art and Kelly for participating in this as well as everybody who attended. Really wanted to highlight how involving end users in any legacy modernization is critical for success. We want to encourage anybody, when taking on a large-scale project like this, as we said, cast a wide net and get as much involvement as possible. Understanding where this sits within the business process is critical for long-term success. We will be sharing a recording of this session for anybody that wants to see it for future viewing. Have a great rest of the day. [Closing: Logo animation writing CAI in the center with "We power the possible sliding" in from the right. www. cai.io appears under the logo.] [music]


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