TIP Software Considerations for MPOs

Transportation Improvement Programs are continuously being updated and amended. Having the right system and software in place can help drive efficiency within your organization.

The Transportation Improvement Programs (TIP) process is an on-going process with updates and amendments consistently occurring. Since TIPs are on-going programs, all Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) must have a system in place to track and manage the TIP update and amendment process.  MPOs follow a regular TIP update and amendment process and utilize management software to track the TIP, whether through a Microsoft Access database, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, a customized database developed in another TIP software program or a combination of those three along with supporting documentation in emails, reports and documents.

There are several considerations for MPOs evaluating a change to their TIP management system:

  • Ease of connection with the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) – processes to move projects from the MTP to the TIP and tools to assess consistency
  • Ease of connection with performance measurement – processes to connect projects with various performance measures
  • Need for a public facing site with project listings, locations, funding sources and amounts
  • Need for a connection to the Federal Management Information Systems (FMIS)
  • Need for project sponsor communication (i.e., amendment requests, MPO review, approvals, and changes)
  • Need for routine reporting (i.e., fiscal constraint, amendment / update summary and funding balances)
  • Need for Advance Construction (AC) functionality
  • Need for communication flows to / from Department of Transportation (DOT) for Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) insertion
  • Expectations of Board, Member Governments, DOT and FHWA/FTA
  • Hardware and software needs
  • Staff knowledge and experience with the overall TIP process and requirements and with the management software / system
  • Degree of maintenance required and support available for on-going product upgrades
  • Ease of implementation
  • Total cost (staff time + initial software implementation cost + on-going costs)

When EcoInteractive Project Tracker is a Good Fit for MPOs and When It’s Not

Good Fit

  • MPOs that are looking to make their online TIP more accessible and transparent to their Board, committees and the general public (as compared to a .pdf document posted on their website)
  • MPOs that handle many transportation projects
  • MPOs that want to free up some of the TIP Administrator’s time to assist with other projects
  • MPOs that want a better way to document changes made to TIP projects by staff and project sponsors
  • MPOs that have relatively inexperienced staff assigned to TIP Administration
  • MPOs looking to transition away from a system designed by a staff member that is soon to retire
  • MPOs that do not have dedicated IT support for their current system
  • MPOs that would like direct access to the financial obligation system used by FHWA
  • MPOs that experience frequent turnover in TIP Administration staff
  • MPOs that award suballocated funding and want to improve their suballocated funding accounting practices

Bad Fit

  • MPOs that handle relatively few transportation projects
  • MPOs with a robust eTIP tracking system complete with: version control, validation checks, ad hoc reporting, public website and centralized data management

Ultimately, each MPO will weigh all of the considerations when evaluating its TIP Software of choice and TIP Administration approach and will decide which consideration is most important.  We believe EcoInteractive’s ProjectTracker SaaS solution is a strong candidate for many MPOs to consider.

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