The unique place that the fire service finds itself in is that we’re still too small of a market to attract large technology companies that have these wonderful, comprehensive solutions. Before you even start on the journey of selecting something new, you realize you’re going to have to accept that most software solutions just don’t fit all your needs.
At the time we started our project, nothing had been updated since the mid-90s. It was time for us not just to pick out a new record management system, but to step back all the way and look at the entire environment and scope of the project, and figure out the best pieces to strategically align.
We knew ERP Advisors Group had worked with other fire service departments, and we didn’t want to go down that road without having that guidance, experience, and knowledge of the marketplace.
Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague who is my counterpart at another fire service. I mentioned to them that at end of 2021, we’re literally going to have every piece of our technology, from hardware to software, upgraded or updated based on the leverage that that the ERP Advisors Group Needs Analysis brought to the table.
We would not have had the success that we did in that time period — especially in the economic climate like we’re dealing with right now — if we did not have that Needs Assessment. It wasn’t just a gloss-over; it was a very detailed, intimate look into our organization that resonated with the decision and policy makers outside the fire department, which is really where that leverage had to come from.
Another thing I really appreciate about ERP Advisors Group is that they are vendor-agnostic; they don’t have those obligations the way other advisors do. For me, especially in the government realm, they perfectly hit a spot that’s important to local government, namely transparency, ethics, and character, that align with our own organizational values.
The moment that I can remember that changed so much for us, in terms of our scoping of this, was when we were sitting in the debrief that EAG gave with the final presentation of their findings. Our Deputy Senior Manager was there, and she intently listened to what EAG had to say. Because of the quality of that briefing, it took our Deputy Senior Manager no time at all to understand that our old RMS was holding us back and needed to be fixed. She took almost immediate steps to rectify that for us.
Something else that really impressed me about ERP Advisors Group was that it was not a clinical approach. They get in the trenches, sit in the room, sit around the table, and get the feedback. EAG has always had that ability to come in and really listen, and then find the appropriate solution that fits the need. That was a game-changer for us. Our IT person needed to be heard, she needed to have her professional knowledge recognized, evaluated, and put to use in a way that it could improve the situation. And EAG did that extraordinarily well.
Making our final ERP selection was done through iterative processes, and ERP Advisors Group was part of the decision-making team. They did not make decisions for us, but EAG was there as a trusted advisor to help us make the best final selections.
One thing that I really appreciated is the way that ERP Advisors Group helped us with the final selection and follow up with those vendors on our RFP points. EAG went to our vendors and said, “These are five things that we heard from you during your sales presentation or even in the follow ups, and we don’t have clarity yet. Can you give us clarity? And this is what clarity is defined as.”
We didn’t have to do that as the department. It was EAG on our behalf, going out and getting that information, leveraging their relationships, leveraging their understanding of the industry, and that is incredibly valuable. Because then you have good, rock-solid decisions.
Like I said earlier, RMS selection in the fire service today is challenging and, in my opinion, you will never get exactly what you want, it will never check all your boxes. But to know that confidently I can say we are getting the best available RMS for our department right now, that I can unequivocally say, because of the background work that ERP Advisors Group helped us do.
Another thing ERP Advisors Group does well is act as a force multiplier. I’ve got an extremely competent IT staff, both inside the department as well as an IT group that helps us out here in the city of Boulder, but none of them can stay up to date the way the EAG can on that very niche market of fire service-specific software and hardware.
To have the EAG team come in and help us make much better decisions in a shorter amount of time, put a higher-quality RFP together, develop better contract structures — those are things that I would say really helped us tremendously.
If we had not had ERP Advisors Group and had gone down that path on our own, it would have taken a significant amount of time and bandwidth from a staff that’s already strapped. In this case, it was easy to make the selection to say we can get more done in less amount of time in a much higher quality manner than if we did it on our own.
We wouldn’t be in the spot we’re in as an organization — in replacing our record management system or hardware or software, and even the fact that we were able to integrate additional personnel being projected into the fire department for IT support — had it not been for the EAG Needs Assessment that we did at the beginning of the RMS selection process.
That was so key and has paid for itself many times over, to be able to have that return come into our department at an extremely critical time. Obviously, nobody saw the COVID-related challenges, including the funding problems. We would have been in a very difficult situation with a record management system that will stop being supported at the end of this year. And we wouldn’t have been able to have a solution in place; the funding challenges would have been almost too difficult to overcome.
Now that I’ve worked with EAG personally over the past five to six years, they’ve almost become an extension of our staff. During this process, if I ever had a question for any of the EAG team members, it would feel like they were in our office because they fit in like a part of our team. And that I think is such a value that EAG brings.
If there’s something that is a distinguishing feature of EAG is that their entire team — whether it’s learning from their consultants, working with Erica on contracts, or getting executive level direction from Shawn — they have been there when we have had challenges. They have fit into our culture, they have matched our pace and our ability to absorb change, and they’ve done it in such a professional manner that they are basically part of our team, which is phenomenal.
Without a doubt, I will refer ERP Advisors Group to anyone looking to update their software system. As a matter of fact, I in essence referred EAG to myself when I came to Boulder because I knew about them and I recommended them as a firm. I would have no reservations making that recommendation, not just to other public safety entities or governmental entities, but also to private sector firms that are looking for the kind of service that I think EAG is very unique at providing.