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Keys to a Successful Public Safety Technology Procurement


Public safety agencies considering an emergency communications or information management system procurement often face organizational, technical and financial challenges. DELTAWRX has developed the following set of strategies to address these challenges based on our experience assisting agencies nationwide with a wide range of system acquisitions. In this post, we offer keys to a successful public safety technology procurement across three phases:

  • Phase I: Procurement Planning

  • Phase II: Project Execution

  • Phase III: Management and Closure

Phase I: Procurement Planning

Develop the Business Case for Procuring New Technology – Common drivers for public safety technology procurements include improving officer safety and situational awareness, increasing operational efficiency and taking advantage of product development, support and maintenance offered by Commercial Off the Shelf (“COTS”) system providers, among others. By clearly outlining the project drivers and objectives, the business case serves as justification for the procurement to project sponsors and can be a helpful tool when identifying a project champion within the participating agency.

Identify a Project Champion – Ideal candidates have the authority to dedicate resources and drive the project forward, possess in depth knowledge of internal operations and are recognized and respected leaders within the department or agency. The project champion is often involved in developing the business case for the project, but if not, it is important to set clear expectations to the project champion regarding their role on the project and use the business case to make a compelling value proposition.


Establish Project Team and Team Member Roles – Members of the project team are responsible for developing a unified vision of the project. Project team members are typically responsible for completing tasks to document system requirements and evaluate the proposed solutions. The project team will also set expectations among user groups regarding forthcoming changes to business processes that will result from the system acquisition. Team members should also be able to identify potential roadblocks to the project, identify and mitigate risks before they are realized. Agencies should staff their project team with individuals who can positively impact resistance to change.

Determine Communication Strategy – A Communications Management Plan will establish the frequency and modes of communication for the project based on the identified project stakeholders. The plan will also clearly articulate the information that will be communicated to each stakeholder group (schedule, accomplishments, issues, etc.).

Phase II: Project Execution

Determine Business Needs – Conducting in depth interviews and observing operations with project stakeholders and end users of existing technology will further reveal the business needs driving the system acquisition.

Understand Available Solutions – Conducting market research, issuing Requests for Information (RFIs) to system providers, benchmarking peer agencies, attending trade shows or conferences and hosting system demonstrations are valuable methods to educate the project team about which systems offer the desired functionality.

Ensure Functionality Addresses Business Needs – Clear requirements are necessary to ensure the selected system addresses your agency’s business needs. System requirements include but are not limited to the system functionality, system scope and the scope of services the selected vendor will provide.

Develop an Evaluation Process – Elements to consider when developing a process to evaluate potential solutions include obtaining representation from all key stakeholders on the evaluation committee, establishing scoring criteria and weighting, completing a written evaluation identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each proposed system and garnering consensus about the most advantageous solution.

Phase III: Management and Closure

Dedicate Post-Procurement Resources – While the system evaluation and acquisition processes tend to garner much of the focus during procurement projects, work remains to be done after the project team has selected its preferred vendor. For example, agency resources will be required to complete system configuration, interface development and integration, training, and make policy and governance decisions. Consistency is key to successfully managing these post-contract award phases of the project, as members of the evaluation committee and broader project team possess invaluable experience and understanding of ongoing issues.

Actively Manage Change – System acquisition and replacement projects are complex undertakings often accompanied by significant organizational and operational change (e.g., business processes, roles and responsibilities.). Agencies can best prepare for these changes by deploying change management tools early and often throughout the project. Communicating regularly to reiterate project objectives, circulating product documentation among end users, publishing policy changes, conducting periodic risk assessments and developing risk mitigation strategies are examples of useful tools to actively manage change.

Build From This Experience – Projects of this magnitude offer an opportunity for participating agencies to galvanize around a common goal and gain familiarity with the functions of other departments. Project team members serve as a great resource to identify successes, lessons learned and areas for improvement to consider when planning future endeavors.

DELTAWRX specializes in assisting public safety agencies through all phases of technology procurements. Whether your agency is considering a system upgrade or replacement, is in the midst of a procurement, or is about to embark on implementation, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at rwolcott@deltawrx.com or info@deltawrx.com to learn more about the services we offer or to discuss any of the tips provided in this article.

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DELTAWRX is an independent professional management consulting firm dedicated to serving public sector agencies. At DELTAWRX, we bring to each project outstanding client service, unparalleled consulting experience and proven technical expertise.

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