How to update technology at your agency

The process should start with asking three fundamental questions

"My department needs a strategy for updating our technology. Where do we start?"

Whether your technology is old and hard to support or you're trying to decide whether to invest in the latest and greatest, you need to ask yourself some fundamental questions.

1. Does the technology or innovation you're considering improve outcomes?

2. Does it improve system productivity?

3. How are those considerations to be objectively measured?

If you're confident in your answers to those questions, you're ready to move ahead with selection and implementation. And the latter, in our experience, is where a lot of organizations end up disappointed.

Let us clarify that: The implementation phase is at least as important as choosing the right technology in the first place.

During both selection and implementation, you should keep in mind that technology doesn't fix poor processes. Rather, it tends to expose them.

So, rather than selecting and implementing a solution that matches your organization's current practices and workflow, do a solid analysis to make sure that the technology you select will meet your future needs. 

If your processes are flawed, now's the time to fine-tune them. As early as you can do so, identify stakeholders and involve them in the process. By including every department that touches the technology or is affected by it, you can save a lot of headaches later on.

Do not cut corners here: A rush to implementation can not only be expensive, but can turn your people against future innovation or process changes

Wherever possible, keep it simple. Many technological solutions are too complex — and tied into your organization in too many places — to tackle all at once.

Consider staging the implementation in an ordered fashion over a defined time frame. At the very least, this will put you in a better position to address problems as they arise.

Finally, remember that communication is essential. This may sound clichéd, but sharing both good and bad news with your team (and vice-versa) can make all the difference — and provide a great model for future projects.

About the author

For more than three decades, the Fitch & Associates team of consultants has provided customized solutions to the complex challenges faced by public safety organizations of all types and sizes. From system design and competitive procurements to technology upgrades and comprehensive consulting services, Fitch & Associates helps communities ensure their emergency services are both effective and sustainable. For ideas to help your agency improve performance in the face of rising costs, call 888-431-2600 or visit

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