Improving Your Software’s ROI in 5 Critical Areas
Technology is changing literally every day with new ideas, techniques, capabilities, and inventions. With processes and workflows that are tied to the general public and the communities they serve, public safety agencies aren’t exactly defined by fixed consistency either. Put the two together and it can easily turn into a recipe for uncertainty. That’s why having a software system and vendor that you can count on today, tomorrow, and even for the next ten years is so important. But if it’s such a critical aspect of successful agencies, why are reliable software vendors so rare? To explore this, we have to take a deeper dive into which factors will truly bring the best return on investment.
Officer and Citizen Safety
Safety, both of the officer and the community, should always be top of mind for any agency administrator. The outcome of a situation can be drastically affected by what information an officer has access to.
Giving field officers reliable information in real time can better prepare them for any situation, even before an officer has left the patrol car. Real-time access to updated records allows field personnel to respond more thoughtfully to a situation or request backup. For example, an officer can be prepared when encountering someone who has had prior violent incidents with police, or when there are repeated domestic violence calls to an address. A fully integrated CAD system can also inform field personnel about the status and locations of other responding units without having to tie up radio wavelines to do it.
More accurate, complete data also increases safety in the community because more reliable information that can be passed along to the public. Through citizen engagement sites, such as CrimeReports.com or CommunityCrimeMap.com, community members can be aware of which areas are high risk for crime and which areas are safer. Plus, officers are able to have a larger physical presence out in the community when they are not stuck behind a desk filling out reports.
Time and Efficiency
Every public safety agency is looking to save time and resources whenever possible. Agency administrators are aware that they are stewards of taxpayer dollars and frequently make decisions based on that assessment. That’s why maximizing those limited resources by streamlining multiple processes and tools into one software system is so important. In addition, a software system that has an intuitive workflow can greatly reduce common frustrations for team members. Instead of having to enter the same data multiple times into multiple programs, officers can spend that critical time focusing on patrol and investigating crimes, as well as connecting with the community.
Another thing to consider is that one software solution can impact every team in a public safety department, even if a particular team doesn’t depend on the software on a daily basis. That’s because the time and energy an individual has to spend on entering or accessing data in the system will directly impact their workflow processes and the time it takes to move information to other departments. An integrated system can help agencies efficiently share data, which can lead to better decision making, boost investigations, and provide powerful searching capabilities.
Purchasing a software system is a big undertaking, but it shouldn’t be the end-all for agencies or software vendors. Once the contracts are signed and congratulations are made, that’s when the real work begins. Vendors that truly know this are just as invested with the experience they provide after the purchase is made as they are with the experience leading up to it. That’s why customer service is such an important factor to consider when looking for a return on investment.
From implementation, to project management, to technical support, there are a lot of teams that contribute to the customer service experience. Customer service isn’t just about addressing issues as they arise, it should also include proactive strategies to enhance overall customer experience and empower agencies to continually learn about their software system. A committed vendor will offer a number of ways to access help and training, online and over the phone, at all times.
Another point to evaluate is if the vendor offers educational opportunities, such as training conferences, to offer ongoing value to customers. These educational opportunities provide hands-on instruction and information on software updates and new products, as well as foster an atmosphere of inter-connectivity with other customers.
Even if agencies find a perfect solution for their current needs, both the technology and their community will change in hardly any time at all. Agencies need a software vendor that is dedicated to continuing research and development to make sure that the software solution works as well for the agency in seven years as it does today. In addition, finding a software vendor that not only aims to solve for the agency’s needs, but actually goes as far as seeking customer feedback can be an often overlooked but important key to agency success. Having a say in what features or fixes should be included in an update will dramatically increase an agency’s return on investment for their software.
Public safety agencies that do not have access to the latest technology are at a real disadvantage in the fight against crime. Having access to the latest technological advancements and trends can help agencies do what they do better by allowing them to respond faster and smarter.
No software vendor is ever operating under the assumption that they will be obsolete in five years. But in the ever changing climate of the public safety software industry, it’s an important factor to keep in mind when evaluating potential vendors. There are a few things to look for that will help determine if the initial purchase will turn into a software investment and long-term partnership that the agency can rely on for years to come.
Obviously, a company’s age should not be the ONLY factor to look at, but you can tell a lot about a technology company that has stood the test of time and maneuvered through an ever changing industry. With this in mind, it is important for agencies to search for a company that has been around for a long time and has a long-term tenured customer base with low attrition. This is a good indicator of how satisfied their customers have been with their service for years or even decades. In addition, long-standing vendors can have deep connections in the industry, actively participate in standards committees, and constantly invest in new technologies.
The last factor that can indicate whether a vendor will value a long-term partnership is the overall vision at the company. Is the company planning for the future and adjusting their product accordingly? With so many acquisitions happening in the public safety software industry, it is especially important to look critically at WHY a vendor might be acquiring other companies. Are they making strategic acquisitions to solve for agency problems or are they simply acquiring to increase customer count and their bottom line?
When searching for a public safety software suite that is powerful, reliable, and easy to use, public safety agencies of all sizes should consider the potential return on investment. The above guidelines will help direct questions and research during the process.