Help, my software is not meeting our department's needs
Technology has changed but software should be helpful, not hurtful
By eForce Software
This article is provided by eForce and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of PoliceOne.
Software should be helpful, not hurtful
Even though they perform many of the same functions, different law enforcement agencies have their own specific needs. Maybe you have had the same software for a while and need to choose a new system because yours is hopelessly outdated or not supported by the manufacturer anymore, and you’re wondering which one comes the closest to meeting your needs. If that's the case with your department, here are some things to keep in mind before you switch to something else.
Remember to Distinguish "Needs" From "Wants"
Buying new law enforcement software is a lot like getting a new car. When you visit a dealership or shop around online for the perfect car it's easy to get caught up in the extra features, even if you don't need them. Sure, automatic moisture-sensing wipers and motorized cup holders sound cool, but are they really necessary? Are they going to help you get your job done more efficiently? Or are they one more extra feature that provides zero value, distracts you from primary objectives and could potentially malfunction at the worst possible time?
When you start evaluating your agency's individual needs, be sure to focus on critical processes and procedures. Don't get bogged down in trivial conveniences that the software may or may not include. Convenient features are great, but make sure you’re not making more work for yourself or your staff in the long run.
Expect to Have To Do Some Adapting
If you're planning a switch to a whole new system, or even a much newer version of your older system, you can't really expect it to perform exactly like your old system did – even if it includes all the critical features you need. It will do things differently, and each person in your department will need to adapt to some degree. It's inevitable, so just try to get through it with a positive attitude. As much as possible, anyway.
Review the User Manual
Oh yes, they are long and boring. But if you think your software doesnt include certain functionality, you may have a surprise in store for you if you just take time to review the manual. You don't have to read it, cover to cover, but it certainly helps to be familiar with it. There may be something there you've missed in terms of what your software is actually capable of.
If you know other agencies that are using the same software, don't be afraid to ask them how it meets their needs. You might be able to apply it the same way. Even if you don't personally know of other departments using the same software, you might be able to get this information from your software vendor or from other users on the company's online forum, if it has one.
Contact Customer Support
If you try the tips above and still can't seem to find the answers you need, call your software's Customer Support line. They can let you know if the features you want are available, or if it's just a matter of your team needing more training to get the most out of your software. After all, it's rare that the full potential of any software program is met by the people who use it.
Additional training that's personalized for your team could show you how the system you currently have is actually capable of meeting your department's needs, and you just need to learn how to make it work more efficiently. That's a lot easier than replacing your entire software system, if that's something you were considering.
Request a Change for the Next Version Update
It doesn't hurt to make suggestions for the next version update. Most software designers really want to make their products more useful to you as the end user. It benefits both you and them. It's important to note and remember, though, that these requests are prioritized using a number of variables, including the number of requests for the same update, the level of impact the change will have on the customer's ability to effectively perform important tasks, and available resources to commit to the request.