APO Building Blocks for a Lasting Standard: Rigor and Transparency (Part II)

IPI_Generic_APO_Logo_FinalBy Casey Jones, CAPP

In my last blog post, I talked about iterative design, an essential foundational feature of IPI’s Accredited Parking Organization (APO) program. Iterative design is a methodology based on a cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product or process. It’s important for the APO Standard to evolve over time because our industry is changing rapidly. If we see best practices and standards as static, we’ll surely miss adapting our parking and transportation programs to meet the ever-changing needs of our patrons.

Right before I took the CAPP exam, I asked a friend to share with me his experience. He’d taken the test shortly before I did and I wanted to know how hard he thought the exam was and if I’d studied enough. At the time, I didn’t really get his response but once I completed the assessment, what he said made perfect sense. He described the exam as “sufficiently difficult,” and meant that it was difficult but not impossible to pass. Earning APO status should be difficult but not impossible too. Organizations that earn APO status represent the top 30 percent of the industry in terms of how they manage their parking programs, and the top 5 percent for those achieving accreditation with distinction. For some, the standard is just not achievable without serious commitment, the retooling of processes, and investments that heretofore have been postponed. But even for organizations not quite up to APO status, the standard has meaning. It outlines what is required of a high-performing organization and can serve as a catalyst for change. This is why transparency is critical.

When I was in college I had professors who were very clear about what was required of students to receive certain grades: Be to class on time, participate, score above a certain score on quizzes and tests, and boom, the A was yours. Other professors were much less clear on what it took to succeed. Transparency in assigning grades and earning APO accreditation work the same way. What one must do to earn APO status is outlined criteria by criteria in the APO Manual for Applicants for anyone and everyone to read. The manual spells out in unambiguous terms what an applicant must do to earn credit for each of the programs criteria.

Rigor and transparency are hallmarks of the APO program along with iterative design. In the next post in this series I’ll discuss third-party review and integrity.

Casey Jones, CAPP, is vice president, institutional services, with SP+.

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