Toll Collect

Toll Collect will be the toll billing system for trucks on German motorways:

The project is developed by a consortium lead by DaimlerChrysler and Deutsche Telekom with some kind of FixedPriceContract of about 7 AmericanBillion EURO. TheGovernment of Germany is TheCustomer and the GoldOwner. The development of the system started in September 2002. The technology is based on the GlobalPositioningSystem, and a WebApplication for booking truck routes in advance. Trucks will be equipped with EmbeddedSystems called "On Board Units". OBUs are used for positioning, monitoring and billing. Additionally the OBUs have infrared interfaces for communicating with stationary control bridges on the motorways.

It is at least a HundredPersonProject. Since end of 2002 several hundred engineers and programmers worked on the project. Some articles report more than 1000 experts involved in the project. The rollout was first scheduled for the end of August 2003, but there was NotEnoughTime. TheDeadline was shifted by 2 months. Additional delays can be expected. Perhaps this first deadline was one of some ArtificialDeadlines: The secret contract probably did not include penalties in the case of delays for up to 4 months after the initial deadline.

Currently the ProjectManagers have to justify the project delays on the main TV news. XpInTheNews? It is like a daily StatusMeeting, broadcasted to all German TvWatchers. They can not ReportBugsSilently, because the EndUsers (truck drivers) are ExceptionReporters, speaking directly into to microphones of the reporters and BadNewsNeedsToTravelFasterThanGoodNews. Together with the CEOs of DaimlerChrysler and Deutsche Telekom, the German chancellor has initiated a task force to speed up the progress.

Probably I suffer from TooMuchCynicismTooEarly, but it almost brings me into a MentalStateCalledFlow to imagine the internal details of the project: ProgrammerHell with OverTime and ExtremeFrustration? A DeathMarchProject? WaterfallBudgeting? ThereIsNoSituationSoBadThatYouCantMakeItWorseByPanicking. PeopleDontThinkFasterUnderPressure, even if the GermanChancellorTurnedProjectManager?.

Finally, is Chancellor Schröder covered by the PointyHairedBossTransitiveClosure? Not really: When in 2002 a news agency reported about his hair coloring, the German Chancellor forced an omission explanation. So, real hair, real colors.

StandardDisclaimer of a ChronicComplainer: I'm just an external observer of this project and ObserversShouldNeverThrowExceptions. -- RainerWasserfuhr

See also: MotivateProgrammers, ProgrammingUnderStress

Project article:,3367,1431_A_978466_1_A,00.html

Update: On Feb 17 2004, TheGovernment has cancelled the project contract.

But TollCollect has two months to improve their offer. At the moment the signs are unclear, but my tea leaves tell me the German government will make a new deal with TollCollect. Too much prestige (and money) is at stake here. --JohnWebber

Nearly 1.5 years after previous edit in mid 04. WhatHappened since then? Any new insights / news / lessons?

Some news from Germany: (

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