How to Identify the Right RMS for your Fire Department

stockfresh_84990_a-firefighter-driving-a-fire-engine_resizedOur last article established 7 reasons why fire departments are replacing antiquated RMS with more innovative vendors. If those reasons made the rewards seem worth the risk, then now you are in the position of taking the next steps toward identifying the right RMS.

ERP Advisors Group has helped many fire departments over the years and we would like to share just a few of the most important notes from that experience to help you start your RMS journey.

Changing RMS: 5 Tips for Fire Departments

If you have read our previous article about the advances RMS vendors have made in the last ten years, then you are probably excited to get started. So now, it is important to take a step back, breathe, and really appraise your specific needs from an objective viewpoint.

Needs vary greatly from one fire organization to the next.  For that reason, the tools vary widely as well.

During this first phase of your RMS Selection process, you want to look more specifically at your circumstances to figure out which benefits might apply, as well as the risks of switching. There are countless possibilities that will influence your fire department differently than others. These tips will help you think through some of the most probable influencers.

  1. First and foremost, do not call software vendors first. You don’t want to be sold a software product before you really understand your requirements.
  2. Really understand your specific needs. It will help to articulate how your department is different from other departments.
  3. Get your current data in a clean format. Knowing how you are going to handle historical records is one of the largest factors in moving to a new system.
  4. Be willing to look at the future. Fire departments can be so focused on what is happening today, while potentially neglecting the future strategy for their organization. Understand the growth your organization may experience in the coming months and years, and plan for how your department will keep up.
  5. Look for help. You can always schedule an introductory call with us - we can be a great sounding board.

ERP Advisors Group - Process for RMS Replacement

Here are the high-level steps we walk our clients through to nail down whether they should or shouldn’t purchase new software and once we have a “yes” to purchase software, how to know with absolute certainty they have picked the right application.

1) Needs Analysis

The Needs Analysis essentially is the business case for your organization -- it provides the background, the pain points of why you are considering switching software, the observations of how this is impacting the organization, what the ideal scene and recommendations are as well as cost benefit analysis and change management mitigation.

2) Determine the Right Solution: Survey the Market

There are over 70 different RMS applications on the market, and the process can be confusing if you don’t take the proper steps.

If we establish that an RMS change is the right move, we have a procedure for determining the right RMS solution. We start by creating a document with all your requirements and refer to the document as we find the software packages that meet your requirements specifically with their toolset.  We analyze the market for the field of potential vendors and effectively narrow it down to the most viable, commercially available and functional applications for you to preview.

4) Small-Scale Demos

With a short list of vendors in hand, we will coordinate mini demonstrations with the short-listed vendors.  We call this the “beauty pageant” stage. Your key users will attend the demos and give their feedback. Do your firefighters understand the solution easily? Does the vendor understand your organization? We go through and take out the ones that don’t show well or couldn’t demonstrate your requirements.

5) Full-Scale Demonstrations

Once we rule out what you do not want, we are left with the finalists. We help them to do full discovery with your organization, saving your enormous time by only allowing the most qualified vendors to have intense time with you and your subject matter experts.  The finalists give full demonstrations of their applications to show you (or fail to show you) how their solution can meet your requirements.

6) Choose a Vendor

After final demonstrations, we facilitate every step of the diligence to help you feel 100% comfortable you have found the right application as well as the right implementation partner.  We evaluate all of the terms and conditions, estimate forms and statements of work and provide our feedback on how to ensure your financial interests are put first. While we do not guarantee it, it is typical we actually save our clients our fees in the negotiation phase.

Next Steps: RMS Implementation

Identifying a vendor is one critical step in the process, but equally critical is the implementation itself. ERP Advisors Group works with fire departments and RMS vendors during this phase to ensure the solution is put in place in the way you need and with minimal risk to operations. We have a lot of experience with software vendors, as well as with implementing RMS. We know the challenges, and more importantly how to solve them proactively.

Replacing an RMS can be a very daunting task, but it is also doable. And in a field where well over 50% of implementations fail, every one of our implementations are a success.  We are here to help you if you need us.

If you have any questions about replacing your RMS, please give us a call--we would be happy to give you our objective opinion without charge.

About Quentin DeWitt

Quentin has been in the Information Technology business for over 20 years. He has led teams as a Director of IT, brought innovative products to market as a Product Manager, and led large teams as a Director of Technical Support. Today he manages the ERP Advisors Group Team on needs analysis, software selection, and implementation services, performing extensive work with fire departments to revamp RMS.  He has helped on all phases of RMS projects with half a dozen different fire organizations across Colorado.