ORLANDO, FLORIDA — February 2, 2016 — In public safety, accreditation is viewed as an agency’s commitment to excellence, and is often the first line of defense against damaging litigation. The adherence to sound policy and training that accreditation requires increases citizens’ and employees’ confidence in the agency’s ability to deliver the highest level of service to the community. The process of gaining accreditation requires a focused effort and can be challenging but does yield a significant return on investment. To address the challenges, many agencies and accrediting organizations are adopting technology to help automate and streamline the process.
For example, CALEA®—Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies—has embarked on a partnership with PowerDMS, a cloud-based document management software company, to provide CALEA standards electronically, enabling their members to work smarter and more efficiently.
“The transition to electronic processes makes sense for our organization. It’s a value-add for our members,” said CALEA’s executive director, Craig Hartley. “Accreditation management technology allows an agency to document activities that support risk mitigation. It provides an opportunity to establish sound policies and practices that complement the standards, and then track those activities in a responsible way.”
With these potential benefits in place, using technology alone can go a long way to simplifying accreditation. On top of that, these five tips can help agencies take a fledgling digital strategy and turn it into a plan that will help with accreditation and create a culture of excellence within their agency.
1. Get a dedicated auditing feature
Find a document management software with dedicated auditing features that show policies side-by-side with industry standards. From here, you can go one-by-one through all of the changes to the standard while looking at your policy to ensure it is in line with the requirement.
2. Take advantage of internal reporting
An electronic document management system can track who has signed off on which policies, how long users have had documents and left them untouched, who has completed different training modules and even who has made edits to different documents. These capabilities make auditing much easier as agencies can quickly identify the pain points that are coming between them and a successful report.
3. Don’t try to do it all at once
With reporting, regulatory audits and similar capabilities all built into the document management framework, it’s easy to maintain best practices in real time. For example, managers can receive notifications if users have not responded to policy compliance proofs after a preset amount of time, preventing them from tracking people down when it comes time to get accredited. Instead of making accreditation a large, one-time project, they can focus on consistently maintaining best practices, and the accreditation process will be much simpler.
4. Always review and refine documents
Many public safety agencies end up in a situation where their policy manual is a dusty binder most likely copied from a larger entity that had time to create its own guide. Agencies should take the time to customize and continually refine policies to make them fit specific operational requirements. Otherwise, they could perform an audit and find that many of the policies they should be enforcing aren’t really relevant. Functionality to see policy and/or standards changes, built-in collaboration tools and similar document management system capabilities simplify this process.
5. Bring in a fresh set of eyes
With electronic document management systems, agencies can quickly add new users and adjust authorizations at any time. A specialist or a colleague from another department can provide an external view on documents without conducting a formal audit.