*$#%. You just got handed the assignment to find a new public safety solution for the department, now what? Lucky for you we have 20 years of public safety experience and have picked up a few tips along the way. So, here’s your guide to Project: New Solution:
We’ll warn you that there are a few steps to go through before presenting a new solution to the Chief. However, being prepared is half the battle so to help minimize the headaches take the project in three phases: assignment, research and evaluation.
Take a moment to understand the scope of the project and the key details. This step is purely information gathering of what the project entails, the timeline and who else (if anyone) should be involved. The obvious detail is what type of solution is wanted – is it as broad as a new MDT solution or as specific as new tablets? Any and all information will help create a plan for the buying process. Specs about the solution may be unknown at this stage, but consider the following:
Budget – While need is a driving influencer for exploring a solution, budget is a huge factor in the final decision. Departments have a strict, tight budget and so it’s important to maximize it as best as you can. Explore any grant or state contract opportunities available at the time. Checking this at the beginning helps ensure the project adheres to any requirements outlined in the grant.
Collaboration – It may be your project, but you don’t (and shouldn’t) have to do it alone. Talk to the fleet team, they will know details about past and existing solutions, which helps understand the departments preferences. The IT team can also be a huge help in guiding the direction of the project. Any solution whether MDT or software based will eventually requires support from IT, so it’s best to include them from the beginning. Plus, if you’re not a computer person, they definitely are. In addition to fleet and IT, any officers to help test drive and demo products during the sale process is insightful.
Buying Process – Depending on your town, city or state, there can be different rules in regard to purchasing new solutions. Is a bid or RFP (request for proposal) required? Does the final purchase have to be approved by vote or council? Knowing this information at the beginning helps you be better prepared for what to expect and to have your ducks in a row. It’s important to note that most manufacturers do not sell directly, therefore finding a reseller and sales rep in your area early cannot only help with the sale itself but provide valuable insights and expertise on solutions.
After you get a good understanding of the project and some pieces in place, the next step is to begin the research phase. This is the time to start looking at solutions and an opportunity to understand the current state of technology. Technology is constantly adapting, evolving and improving. When was the latest version released? Is an upcoming release expected around the timeline of the project? Lean on your sales rep for this info. Also, know what the department values in terms of technology specs (network generation, internet speed, ruggedness, processor speed, etc.) to focus your search. (Bonus tip: start with this blog which outlines factors to consider when choosing a solution).
Just like buying a car, test-drives and demos are a great way to go beyond the specs listed on paper and get a feel for the performance of either a product or software. With the investment that is being made, it’s important to understand the usability and performance before signing on the dotted line. This is the stage where others can be involved to gather insights from other officers (the users), IT (the software gods), fleet (the installers and managers of hardware).
A lot of factors go into finding a solution but being prepared with an organized plan can help ease the process. If you’re still overwhelmed with the process, we have reps nationwide to work alongside you from beginning to end. Give us a call 1.800.333.0498 and will get you in touch with your local rep ASAP! Or visit our contact us page.