community

Planning for Change in Public Safety – Series Intro

Lori Cox
RFP Proposal Writer

“You’re in charge.”  

Three of the scariest words in existence.  

In public safety the phrase can have many different meanings; in charge of the prisoner, in charge of the scene, in charge of the unit, in charge of the case, just to name a few. Each one comes with its own responsibilities, decisions, and paths of management.

But what happens when what you’re in charge of is the scariest thing of all?

Change.

Preparing a public safety agency for change can be especially daunting. There are layers of authority to be identified, mission critical processes to account for, legal requirements to meet, policies and procedures to be developed and additional stakeholders that include external agencies and organizations and, ultimately, the community being served. Additionally, agencies rarely have the luxury of assigning personnel full-time to projects such as CAD or RMS upgrades. This means that already busy people somehow need to carve out time to implement agency-wide change while continuing with their day-to-day responsibilities.

In the fall of 2001, I was assigned as the technical lead of a project to migrate the Columbus, Ohio Division of Police from a paper-based UCR reporting system to a computerized IBR-based reporting solution. This would mean transitioning over 2000 people from paper to computers, moving from one form of data gathering to an entirely different one, and replacing decades-old workflows and processes with new ones using new tools.

Wide-eyed (and slightly overwhelmed) all I could think was, “Where do we even start?”

Agencies often assume that the plan for change doesn’t begin until the RFI or RFP process is complete, and a new vendor has been chosen. This is not the case. The sooner the agency begins preparing for change, the smoother the transition process will be. The agency’s responsibilities begin before the first demo is scheduled.  In fact, preparation and planning that has been done prior to vendor selection makes the process that much more efficient.  

Planning is a foundation of public safety. As such, the first step in managing change is to come up with a plan. The plan must cover preparing for the project, executing the project, and implementing the necessary long-term support infrastructure. While the below steps are general in nature, they provide a good framework to work within to plan for organizational change.

In this series, Preparing Your Agency For Change, Mark43 will look at each of the below steps and the considerations included when planning for change management as it relates to upgrading an agency’s Records Management System (RMS). However, the steps can be applied to any change project, large or small.

Step One:  Build A Core Team

Step Two:  Understand the Goals and Requirements

Step Three:  Gather the Necessary Information

Step Four: Make (Initial) Decisions That Account for all Project Phases

Look out for our next post in this series: Step One: Build a Core Team.