How long have you been in business?
A vendor who has been around for about five years has been in the online citizen police reporting system since its birth. Also inquire about any law enforcement perspective the vendor may have. A vendor with law enforcement experience within its ranks will be more likely to understand your questions and be more receptive to your input for future product development.
Can I see your list of clients? Do you have a list of contacts?
Vendors are likely to inflate the number of customers they have, so be sure to ask for a list of clients. The true measure of a vendor is its customers' opinions. Ask the customers about working with the company, how the use of the system has changed, if they have experienced a reduction in customer service as well as the dependability and integrity of the vendor, etc.
Can you interface to my RMS, are you partnered?
Some vendors can be considered sole source if they are the only vendor who has the ability to interface with your RMS, making purchasing an easier experience than putting out a request for proposal. As discussed earlier, the interface is crucial to benefiting as much as possible from your reporting system.
Is there a hosted solution? How do you ensure the security of the data?
Online citizen police reporting systems will either be hosted or not. If the vendor does not host the application, be prepared to purchase new servers and dedicate IT staff to maintain another project. If the vendor does host, the cost will usually be cheaper since new servers won't be necessary and the vendor's staff will maintain the application — this is easier and ideal for both parties. However, it is important to know the security measures that the vendor employs to ensure the security and integrity of the data.
What type of support is provided?
As a law enforcement agency, you should insist on 24/7 customer support. Find out from existing customers how the vendor handles support inquiries. Other considerations are how updates and upgrades are handled, if you will need to purchase a new license two years from now, pay fees for new features, etc.
Can I see a demonstration?
Understand exactly what you are paying for. Pay attention to how the system operates, how user-friendly it is and how much work is involved with reviewing reports. Most importantly, determine if the system and company will help your agency and the citizens in your jurisdiction.The decision
Before purchasing a new system, it's important to shop smart. Look for pertinent features and ask the right questions, so you can find a system that your agency and your citizens can depend on.
Andrew Cartwright, executive director at Coplogic Inc. and former Police Explorer, holds a degree in Administration of Justice from Ohlone College, along with a B.A. from UT Austin with Special Honors in Sociology.