At the very mention of the words “strategic plan,’’ many people have an immediate negative reaction. And there is a good reason for this. Too often, department strategic plans provide no tangible value to the organization, department personnel, or the citizens the department serves. There is a litany of reasons for this problem that include 1. The strategic plan was poorly designed to begin with, 2. No leadership commitment to execute the strategic plan, 3. Strategic plan items were not included in the budget process so there is no funding for implementation, and 4. Change in leadership so the original strategic plan was put on a shelf to collect dust or stuffed in a desk drawer never to see the light of day again.
All that said, strategic plans can provide tremendous tangible value to an organization. Do not let the poor design or execution of a strategic plan sway your perspective on the benefits a strategic plan can provide.
An equally eye-glazing topic for many in public safety is “technology.” Same as with strategic planning, there is a multitude of reasons people have a negative reaction such as 1. Frustration/disappointment with current technology systems, 2. Technology project failures (e.g., cost overrun, the system took longer than expected to implement and the system did not meet expectations), and 3. Lack of understanding regarding the system.
Unfortunately, too many organizations fail to fully accept the fact that public safety administration and operations are 100% dependent on technology systems. These systems are the foundation for virtually all aspects of public safety operations: 9-1-1/Admin phone systems, CAD/Mobile, GIS/Mapping, Records Management Systems, Field-Based Reporting, Patient Care Reporting, Case Management, Criminal Intelligence, NIBRS/NIFRS, In-Car Camera/Body Worn Camera systems, Digital Recording systems (e.g., 9-1-1/radio, interview room, prisoner transport, booking room, building security, etc.), Business Intelligence/Analytics, Radio System – and that is not even the entire list of systems, applications, and modules.
Public safety relies on these systems being dependable, resilient, high-performing, and redundant. This requires a robust infrastructure including primary and secondary data centers, a master electrical plan (e.g., powered by diverse grids, Uninterrupted Battery Supply (UPS) and generator), redundant HVAC system, fire suppression system, secure wired and wireless networks (e.g., Cybersecurity, CJIS compliant, optimum bandwidth) and additional technical components.
None of the above works well without sufficient staff who have the appropriate knowledge, skills, abilities, and training to fully leverage each system.
Finally, technology systems/applications, infrastructure, and subject matter expert personnel are expensive line items in an organization’s budget. However, many organizations have disparate technology systems, many variations of the same systems and are deficient in areas such as infrastructure, personnel proficiency, IT staff, and subject matter expertise for each system.
When was the last time your organization completed an objective, accurate and comprehensive assessment of technology systems?
- What is the value each system provides the organization?
- How does each system make the organization better, smarter, faster, and safer?
- Is each system configured to provide maximum operational effectiveness and time efficiency?
- Are all personnel trained to proficiency for each system?
- What is the overall quality of organization data (e.g., timely, accurate, objective, relevant and comprehensive)?
- What is the lifecycle and roadmap of each system?
- Does the organization have multiple variations of similar systems or disparate systems?
- Are decisions to purchase technology systems made in silos?
- Does the organization have the appropriate number of subject matter expert personnel to design, install, configure, train personnel, and support each system?
- Does the organization have the appropriate infrastructure to provide dependability, resilience, and redundancy for life-critical and mission-critical systems?
- Is the organization receiving a positive Return on Investment for each system?
The above is a synopsis of a business case to support the need for each organization to have an actionable Technology Master Plan/Technology Strategic Plan. We encourage every organization to take the time to complete a current state assessment, develop future state goals, and identify what is needed to transition from a current state to a future state.
To be clear, this is not an easy task. It requires many factors to be successful. For example:
- Organization strategic objectives and initiatives
- Understanding of public safety industry best practices, standards, and guidelines
- Ability to facilitate honest, candid, and fact-based discussions regarding current workflows, business processes, policies/procedures, and training protocols
- Subject matter expertise regarding the evaluation of each system – Capacity, functionality, features, current configuration, lifecycle, roadmap
- Staffing assessment – Subject matter expert personnel
- Infrastructure, networks, and equipment assessment
- Quality of data assessment
Bottom line – There is a tremendous benefit for expending the level of effort to develop the Technology Master Plan/Technology Strategic Plan. When examining the dependency on technology systems; how they impact public safety operations and the cost of technology systems and staff; a Technology Master Plan is a requirement, not an option.
Winbourne Consulting can help your agency prepare and implement a Technology Master Plan/Technology Strategic Plan.
About the author: Tom Maureau has over 40 years of experience in public safety. He is a retired law enforcement Division Commander (27 years) who possesses a unique combination of IT, Law Enforcement, Fire Department, EMS, and Emergency Management expertise developed through numerous police and fire department assignments and as a Florida Registered EMT/Paramedic. Additionally, Tom is the Vice President of Winbourne’s Public Safety System Services. He has an MBA in Technology Management and brings an Operations Management/Business Case Analysis approach to all projects.