Reduce toll revenue leakage with an independent verification test

Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

The most recent KPMG Toll Benchmarking Study 2019 reported that toll road agencies lose an average of $8 million in revenue due to leakage. The study also said that 32% of that leakage resulted from insufficient or inaccurate vehicle data and 31% from lax regulations covering the evasion of tolls. KPMG highlighted the following:

“Toll agencies must make better use of available technologies.”

Source: KPMG Toll Benchmarking Study 2019

Making use of best practices

Software development lifecycle (SDLC) best practices include continuous integration, unit testing, end-to-end tests, and negative path testing, among many others. Tolling agencies can leverage these concepts in their toll road operations.

An agency can implement SDLC best practices in its back-office system software. Anytime the team makes a software update, an upgrade, or a system change, they run through tests in a continuous integration methodology. Doing this type of testing will reduce the number of defects.

Limitations of continuous testing

Unfortunately, the most robust software testing in tolling will tend to miss conducting an exhaustive end-to-end test. This deficiency is not a result of inefficient or incomplete testing but the difficulty in testing a driver going through a toll point and the customer receiving the toll statement.

Simulating both ends of a toll transaction provides much value. Yet, it might be unable to capture real-world scenarios. For example, what if the roadside equipment caught a transaction twice due to faulty equipment? What if the roadside equipment had intermittent issues and the system monitoring solution failed to detect it? What if the back-office system billed one customer instead of another one? News agencies have reported these situations, and my teammates have seen these issues.

Conducting end-to-end testing

Many tolling agencies address the limitations of software testing by relying on their system integrators to test their system or by doing it themselves. After installing the system, the system integrator will conduct a test in the factory. The system integrator will likely never test the toll system again after the tolling agency has accepted the test results and declared the system officially delivered. Testing after that becomes the responsibility of the tolling agency.

The tolling agencies will ask their internal test team to drive on the toll roads, capture the results on a spreadsheet, and self-evaluate them. The agency can conduct as many tests as often as desired. The drawback of this approach is the opportunity cost: agency personnel could focus on maintaining and improving toll road operations instead of driving on the road and conducting tests.

A more efficient end-to-end testing system

Since 2019, my team and I have developed a cloud-based technology and systematic approach to improving end-to-end toll road tests. Our system significantly reduces the toll road agency’s burden of road testing. Our team defines the test plans, organizes the test execution, captures the results, and delivers a report. We have found issues in the back-office systems and helped toll roads collect revenue weeks ahead of schedule without our managed testing service.

Our managed testing results

One client used my team to conduct user acceptance testing of a new toll road before it became operational. This engagement was a few months long, executed thousands of roadside tests, and delivered test results within minutes of completing a test.

These are some highlights of the results.

  • $250K and 480 hours in savings compared to their internal testing approach
  • $2M+ additional revenue collected by finishing testing three weeks ahead of schedule

My team’s goal is to be thorough and simplify testing for tolling agencies. A product owner from another testing project said this:

“The team set it up, found the drivers, scheduled the trips, collected the data we needed, and we did not have to do a thing.”

“My experience with [the team] was fantastic.”

Not a one-time engagement

Similar to how the SDLC does continuous testing, we believe toll road end-to-end testing should be done periodically. Testing a road before going operational or yearly is insufficient and increases the risk of revenue loss. Some agencies have had toll system issues go undetected for months and even years. We suggest that agencies test their roads daily, weekly, or quarterly. At a minimum, a roadside test should be done whenever there is a system update. Testing more often reduces the risk of revenue leakage and system defect going undetected.

KPMG made the following statement in their study:

“Significant opportunities for improvement still exist.”

KPMG recommended that agencies analyze the total cost to collect (TCC), workforce composition, and enforcement programs. A managed testing service will help diagnose the TCC and improve workforce composition. The tests can highlight issues affecting TCC and enables the agency workforce to focus on other tasks because an independent team is testing the toll road.

Let me help improve your toll system test program

My team and I offer a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. After that, we will send you a custom proposal based on your needs.

Schedule a meeting with me on Calendly, contact me on LinkedIn, or contact us on our company website.

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Miguel A. Calles · Serverless CISO

Author of "Serverless Security" · Specializing in CMMC, SOC 2, serverless & engineering.