Accurate record-keeping and shareable information to meet reporting mandates and transparency goals is vital for public safety agencies across the country. Unfortunately, many U.S. agencies are realizing their current record management systems (RMS) don’t provide the tools or flexibility they require. Here are five questions to ask while exploring a new RMS solution:
1. What type of records should my RMS track?
Should your agency’s RMS track the evidence chain of custody? Do you need an RMS that also serves as a jail management system?
Every public safety agency’s needs are unique, so take time to meet with internal and external stakeholders to make a list of capabilities you would like from your RMS. Rank items on the list by must-have (non-negotiable needs), should-have (not vital, but will add significant value), and could-have (nice to have, but don’t necessarily need). This will help you narrow down the RMS that best meets your agency’s needs.
2. What are the immediate costs of implementation, and the recurring costs of licensing, maintenance, and administration?
Any new RMS is not simply a one-time payment. There are additional monetary costs, as well as labor hours for training, to take into consideration. Your agency should determine the immediate cost of implementing a new solution, like training, initial licensing, new hardware, and migrating existing data, as well as the day-to-day costs of managing the new system, like hardware and software maintenance, system administrators or other additional headcount, and vendor customer support.
If your agency is worried about the long-term cost of a new RMS, a cloud-deployable solution may be an option. Deploying your RMS in the cloud can remove some long-term expenses like maintaining secure, scalable, and available IT environments. This can save money by offering more predictable operational expenditures and reducing future unexpected expenses.
3. Can I keep my existing records data?
When migrating from a legacy RMS, it’s important to retain existing records data, as it provides valuable historical context and is a rich source for search and analysis.
Look for a solution that can search all your agency’s records at one time, rather than one that’s limited to searching one database at a time and manually combining data.
4. Can the solution adapt as my agency grows and changes?
Legacy systems built in-house are often costly to operate and maintain. Their reliance on custom coding, interfaces, and integrations means they may be slow to upgrade and costly to adapt.
As requirements evolve, public safety agencies must have a modern, flexible, and robust records management solution in their integrated technology stack. Look for an RMS that offers out-of-the-box integrations, extensive configurability, and simple interfacing to reduce the need for custom coding in the future. Otherwise, as your agency continues to grow and adapt to changing needs, you may find yourself with an RMS that can’t keep up.
5. Will the solution help my agency meet reporting mandates and transparency goals?
Many records analysts lack confidence in their reporting data. Stakeholders need accurate and reliable reports, which means records analysts spend valuable time finding, reviewing, and correcting inaccurate, incomplete, inconsistent, or duplicate data.
These manual tasks may improve report accuracy, but a more viable solution is to remove the need for manual correction. To ensure reports are as accurate as possible, look for an RMS that:
- Validates data as it’s captured by officers
- Time-stamps users’ access to data and edits
- Offers task-oriented workflows
If you’re looking for a records management solution that will meet your agency’s needs now and in the future, check out HxGN OnCall® Records from Hexagon.