What is in this article?:
- Top 5 mistakes to avoid when purchasing fire software
- Mistake No. 1: Poorly defined goals and operational outcomes
- Mistake No. 2: trying to solve the wrong problem
- Mistake No. 3: poor requirements/RFP document
- Mistake No. 4: lack of coordination, cooperation, communication
- Mistake No. 5: not getting peer reviews
Public-safety agencies make five common mistakes when purchasing software. Here’s how to avoid them.
(Appeared in print as "Software’s hard choices")
Public-safety agencies the world over depend on software to deliver services. Computer-aided dispatch, records management, human resources, resource tracking, common operating picture, emergency management, communications, and other software applications help public-safetyagencies achieve their operational mission and form the building blocks to deliver services better, faster, and cheaper — at least that's the hope.
A 2009 CHAOS study by the Standish Group found that 68% of government IT projects fail to be delivered on time, on budget, and with the required features and functions. That is dismal considering the current economic pressures. No public-safety agency can afford to fail in its effort to find and implement the right software solution. Software-purchasing horror stories follow a similar pattern. The software is scrapped after:
- X months/years of study
- Paying consultants X thousands/hundreds of thousands of dollars
- X months/years of an RFP process
- X months/years of implementation effort
- Spending X thousand/hundred-thousand/million dollars
So what happened? It all starts out with the best of intentions and then something goes horribly wrong. Even if it does not end in a Techno-Mulligan (a do-over for you non-golfers) or an IT equivalent of the French Revolution (Off with their heads!), there are other levels of semi-failure available depending on how poorly the solution meets user needs, or how little it gets used, or how much extra time and money it costs. The best way to make sure your project is a success in the end is to avoid the most common mistakes in the software acquisition process.
After four months of gathering research and conducting numerous interviews with public-safety leaders and software company executives, five common mistakes revealed themselves.