POLICE Magazine Supplements

Special Report 2016

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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6 S p e c i a l R e p o r t : L a w E n f o r c e m e n t S o f t w a r e knowledge to do the work needed to get the grant and obtain the technology you want for your department. "When I work with people and grants, I tell them to look at it like a kid looks at writing a Christmas list," Asimor says. e philosophy of asking for more than you might need is a sound one in this case. Because you won't be able to ask for more fund- ing to cover an additional soware license once you've filed the paperwork. "What ideally do you need to solve this problem? Not to just get by or make do, but actually solve it," he asks his clients. "So from there they understand, I need x number of licenses or other items. at's the mindset you have to go into when going aer funding." Once you've settled on a grant, it is time to fill out the ap- plication and write your Grant Funding Justification Narrative Paper. You will need to carefully read the instructions so you fill out the application properly. A mistake as minor as using the wrong font could cost you a grant. And it should go without saying that meeting all specified deadlines is a must. A Grant Funding Justification Narrative Paper must justify need, justify significance of need, offer solutions the funding will bring, explain the soware implementation, and ask for the specific dollar amount needed for the project. Make sure you've done all the necessary research, asked for everything you will need to truly solve a problem, provided a compelling argument to justify the need, and followed all of the instruc- tions down to the letter. en all you can do is wait. You might not get the grant, but that doesn't mean you can't apply for a different grant or even the same one at a later date. Asimor emphasizes to the agencies he works with that persis- tence pays off. Working with the Vendor Whether you will be purchasing soware with grant funding or some other form of payment, a large component of the pro- cess is working with the vendor, and this requires its own set of research. When deciding between vendors, make sure that you choose a stable company with the resources to meet your needs. Find out how long the company has been in business, how much experience it has work- ing with public safety agencies, and how oen it updates soware, as well as how. Gathering this type of background information can help you sort through the competitors and find a system that is right for you. Enter into the sales process with a good understanding of your agency's needs and objectives. Many vendors offer a free testing and evaluation period or "needs analysis" to help deter- mine where improvements can be made—take advantage of it. Be sure to get a good feel for each vendor's background, so- ware functionality, and customer service policies so that you can evaluate which company will give your agency the most value for its money. Your vendor should assign a project management team to help your agency make a smooth transition to the new system. Ask your project managers to help you create a "roadmap" that outlines when each step of the implementation process needs to be complete in order to meet your goal go-live date. Once your system is up and running, you should continue to communicate with your vendor on a regular basis. Maintain- ing a good relationship will help you stay on top of soware changes, enhancements, and training opportunities. Your pub- lic safety soware vendor should assign an ongoing account manager to keep your agency up-to-date on changes and help you resolve issues. Having successfully procured and helped implement a new soware solution, you can enjoy making use of the increased functionality and other benefits it provides…until the next time your agency needs to purchase soware. n What to Consider When Buying Law Enforcement Software W hen your agency starts looking for any kind of software to help its policing efforts, it's important to follow some software se- lection guidelines and to know what benefits the software will yield once it's installed and in use. Whether your software choice is a records management system or a more specific solution, such as intelligence-led policing, the criteria for buying it usually does not vary too much. The benefits of software for law enforcement are as follows: ➔ The software helps an agency strengthen overall policing ef- forts and efficiency as well as resource management. ➔ Enables personnel to access timely and accurate information through integrated technology. ➔ There are significant time savings. ➔ Officers can be more productive, especially since today's soft- ware solutions can be used effectively in the field with electronic tools such as tablets. Because your agency is looking at a strong return on investment for whatever software it chooses, it should follow these important guidelines to help achieve the ROI: ➔ Perform a needs analysis for how the software solution must work. ➔ Make sure the software will interface compatibly with other law enforcement data sharing software. ➔ Compare pricing. With RMS software, for example, there can be huge price differentials whereby some programs can cost no more than $2,000 while others can range from $500,000 to a million dollars. ➔ Buy from a vendor with years of experience and that caters its solution to the law enforcement market. ➔ Look closely at the extent and depth of technical support, mak- ing sure it is offered 24/7, and whether it is part of the software purchase price or a separate cost. ➔ Training is essential for most law enforcement software, so ver- ify whether this is an additional cost or included in your software maintenance agreement. —Bob Galvin HOW TO BUY SOFTWARE

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