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Thoughts on Transit

Technically Inclined to Helping Transit Agencies

by Ecolane / May 22, 2015

Matt Taylor is Ecolane’s Lead Technical Trainer, but don’t get his skills confused with that of an engineer.  Matt worked his way up to his current position starting from an end-user at a transit agency. He has worked as a scheduler, a dispatcher and even a driver.  Beyond his expertise in the workings of Ecolane software, Matt’s biggest skillset is his ability to work and relate with people.

“I’ve been told I am able to command a room,” Matt said.  “I’m able to break the ice and get people to trust me, which I think is a great quality in a trainer.” 

Spending years working in multiple roles within a transit agency doesn’t hurt either.  “I relate well with the people I’m teaching.  I know the tricks that drivers pull and have walked in the shoes of dispatchers and schedulers.”

What is a Lead Technical Trainer?

Matt wears many different hats in his role as Lead Technical Trainer.  He not only works with clients to ensure they are properly trained, but he’s also responsible for making sure that “Go-Live Day” goes smoothly.  Typically located on-site for all route scheduling software implementations within the state of Pennsylvania, Matt also works with the larger team of Ecolane’s technical trainers to ensure everyone is up-to-date with the latest software enhancements. Additionally, documentation and training material updates fall under his purview.  

“While my main role is to work with clients, I am Ecolane’s front-man for best practices using the software as well as conducting training sessions for our internal staff.”

Pain Points 

“Among the biggest challenges we run into with training new clients is the lack of a technical background,” Matt says.  “We sometimes have to begin our classes by teaching them how to use a computer or even search the Internet, before we can even begin showing them how to use our software.”

“The more technically savvy the clients are, the easier the training becomes.”  Ecolane’s software helps so much with scheduling and route planning that once the core features are learned and users become accustomed to a more technical mindset, then the agency will realize value from the software almost immediately. 

“Many agencies have been using pen and paper for 50 years and have become accustomed to a certain way of doing things.” Change management typically ends up being a critical part of software rollouts. Matt has worked with clients who have never used a computer, smart phone or tablet before as well as ones with a high degree of familiarity and technical expertise.  Added Matt. “I work with a wide variety of users.”

When discussing training approaches for differing sized agencies, Matt says there are a number of approaches to consider. “On the small side I’ve worked with agencies that have fewer than 50 trips per day, on the large side I’ve worked with agencies that run about 1,600 trips per day.

“Training sessions for smaller agencies tend to be more hands on.  With smaller groups, I can work hand in hand and walk them through every detail.  I sit with them, review data and watch them work with the software”.

Matt continues, “A larger agency requires more time and effort.  They typically start months in advance with a large mass data import, taken care of by Ecolane’s project management team.  We then spend a lot of time learning about the agency before coming up with a training program. 

“Larger agencies are segmented between call centers, drivers, dispatchers, schedulers, supervisors and oftentimes even more departments. They all use the software differently for different functions.  This obviously requires a different approach than a two person team requires.”

Training before the training      

Matt works on client sites for two weeks every month.  He gets to know the team well and has a good idea of how to get them on the right track.  Even before he shows up to train them he has them watch webinars and because the software is accessible from anywhere, clients are able to work hands on before the training begins.

Matt has some tricks up his sleeve to expedite clients who lack computer experience.  This includes taking them to a convenience store with a touch screen to order food.  The user can see how intuitive technology can be (while also getting a free lunch at the same time).

After the Fact

After training is over and the support team takes over management of the client, Matt’s job is done, but he’s never too far away.  His office is close in proximity to the support staff and Matt’s able to help with any questions and/or issues that might arise. 

Ecolane’s support staff is highly specialized with experts in GIS, computer programming and database management.  Matt holds dedicated weekly training classes for others in the company where he shares the information he learns on the road.

Between one and three months of an agencies Go-Live, Matt revisits the client site to ensure software operations are running smoothly for its users.

His Favorite Things

“My favorite part of the job is interacting with and getting to know the people I’m working with. I’m able to build relationships with industry teams from all over the country and with a similar background like mine, I tend to forge strong bonds.

Matt feels the same way about his colleagues at Ecolane, too. “It’s satisfying to have a relationship with just about everyone in the company.  We are all on the same team, pushing for the same goal.”

On the occasions when Matt isn’t working, he can often be found enjoying an IPA at a microbrewery or sampling the local fare of wherever he might be traveling.  With any luck, his New York Rangers will be on an overhead television, working their way back to the Stanley Cup.  (Incidentally, this is not the most popular of opinions in Philadelphia, where Ecolane’s North American headquarters is located.)

“I’m not an engineer.  I’m not a computer programmer.  That’s just not my background,” Matt adds.  “I’ve got a degree in political science and a minor in philosophy, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to use our software. It’s intuitive enough for anyone who can use a computer.”  And anyone with the right teacher, of course.


Tags: Demand Response Software Customer Support

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