(What’s it like on the front line supporting the firm’s clients?  What are the challenges the firm’s experts help senior business executives, general counsel, board members and other decision-makers address?  Welcome to ACTION WEDNESDAY.  Every Wednesday, the Front Line Blog publishes a new case study.)

Hillard Heintze had just completed an independent assessment of this Midwestern municipality’s police department – which included a focus on the agency’s adoption of technology in law enforcement environments. The assessors found that while the community’s government and police agency had invested heavily in technology for police services, challenges remained in areas such as strategic planning, technology leadership, training, IT support, vendor accountability, information sharing and 24×7 support.

Technology in Law Enforcement: A Strategic IT Plan is Essential

As one of five technology-related recommendations, Hillard Heintze advised the municipality and its police department to develop a Strategic Information Technology Plan for a three-to-five year period, supported by an annual Tactical Plan, which delineated the actions required to achieve the agency’s established IT goals.

A Collaborative Approach to Creating the Plan

The community’s elected leaders recognized the importance of such a plan to align IT with the department’s core mission, operations and functions – and engaged the firm to develop it. Hillard Heintze’s experts in policing, public safety, information sharing, organizational process design and the application of technology in law enforcement settings collaborated over several weeks to craft a plan that addressed six vital areas.  These included:

  1. Governance – Both internal by establishing an IT Governance Committee and external through collaboration and information sharing with select third-party organizations
  2. Leadership – The qualifications and responsibilities associated with setting up a new IT Deputy Director position
  3. Enterprise Architecture (EA) – Establishment of the overall organization and adoption of standard hardware and software for network, server, storage, security and user devices
  4. Portfolio Management – A detailed IT inventory and a careful gap analysis against the EA
  5. Training – and the value of having an IT subject matter expert develop and deliver timely end-user training rather than relying on police trainers to deliver technical training they do not fully understand
  6. End-User Support – Its critical importance to officers charged with making life-saving decisions – for citizens as well as themselves on a regular basis.

Transformational Impacts Expected

It’s too early to evaluate the full impact of this plan on the department’s operations.  But given the original state of the agency’s technology infrastructure and the vital role that technology in law enforcement plays, the impacts – even within the first year of implementation – are expected to be transformational.

Unplugged: The Project Manager’s Perspective

“This was a very satisfying project.  We took care to ensure that the plan clearly defined the goals, resources, timeline, metrics and benchmarks necessary for the agency to target and capture some of the most strategic and highest value IT-related priorities over a rapid 36-month period. These related to a key new IT position, IT training, information sharing and data integrity, vendor management and, of course, strategic coordination and planning. Most importantly, it clearly showed that even when an agency buys the best technology for its employees, inadequate implementation can turn it into a poor investment.”

The ACTION WEDNESDAY Tool Box: Two Key Take-Aways

  1. Be Clear About What You Are Looking For: Insight at the Intersection of Technology and Policing – Too many police departments rely on technology experts with no experience related to technology in law enforcement settings.  Or they depend on policing experts without a broad enough perspective on the latest trends in technology that have yet to impact the police mission.
  2. Don’t Spend Reactively Around One or Several “Hot Button” Issues.  Take the Time and Make the Effort to Create a Strategic IT Plan – This is the only way you will be able to understand, evaluate and make planning and investment decisions in a holistic, integrated manner – one that takes into account factors such as baseline analysis, sequencing dependencies, critical path factors, priority identification and return-on-investment projections.