We’ve all had the painful experience of having to deal with software that’s too difficult to use or unnecessarily complicated. Most software programs and apps are becoming increasingly user-friendly and intuitive. But law enforcement software can still be more complicated than you might like.
Your software might be quirky because it’s an older or proprietary system, or it just might create unwanted hassle whenever you have to train a new employee. However, public safety software remains a necessary evil for officers in the field, so you can’t just give up on it.
What’s a department to do?
Fortunately, there are a number of possible solutions to your law enforcement software woes:
Contact Customer Support
You don’t have to solve all the problems yourself, or put up with needless complexity. It’s not a blow to anyone’s masculinity or competence to ask for help from the tech support department. They’re there to help you use the software in the best way possible. And unfortunately, even the best technology sometimes requires support. Stuff happens. So let the tech support gurus provide help and useful advice.
Get More Training, If Needed
The software isn't always the problem. Sometimes, it's how the members of your workforce are using it. Even if the system has been in place for years, you might not have been trained on everything you need to know right from the start. It pays to have your staff professionally trained on the effective use your of software. Every agency is different and you can only do so much with in-house training. Your workflow can become more streamlined, efficient (and bug-free) when everyone’s on the same page and using best practices.
In addition, changes happen. You might have a new chief or newly elected sheriff. Or many of the original software users on your staff have moved on. When you factor in turnover, it can be challenging to keep everyone up to speed on the most effective way to use the software. Training can help get everyone back on the same page.
Talk To Customers
Maybe you know another agency that also uses the same software, and you can exchange tips and ideas about how to use it. Or maybe the software company has a forum where you can talk to other users about common issues and how to handle them. Sometimes the best ideas for how to use a given program come not from the software provider, but from folks like you who are using it in the trenches -- so reach out and discuss it with your fellow users!
If there isn’t a forum, or if the software company is a smaller one, you can ask them directly for the names of customers that are similar to your agency in terms of size, procedures and how they use the software. You can develop relationships with these other agencies and help each other out.
Software user conferences are also a great way to meet other customers who may have faced and overcome the challenges you’re facing -- so take advantage of that resource when you can.
If All Else Fails, Get a New Software System
Obviously, in terms of complexity and cost, this solution should be your last resort. But if your software system is seriously outdated, isn’t well-supported, and is bogging down your operations, it’s probably time for a change.
If you decide to go this route, here are a few key features to look for:
- Simple, intuitive design and layout
- Ease of use
- Quick implementation
- Features and functionality that meet your agency’s needs
Again, when you’re vetting software companies, don’t be afraid to ask for the contact information of agencies like yours that are already successfully using the software. They can tell you how well it fits needs and uses that are similar to yours.
While no law enforcement or public safety software is going to be a perfect match for every agency, there are usually ways to overcome the issues you’re facing without having to go with a whole new system. Trying different solutions like the ones above will often save you time, money, gray hairs, and possibly an ulcer.