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5 Mistakes to Avoid when Buying a New Fire RMS

ESO Staff

For fire departments looking to improve efficiencies and get more use out of their own data, a digital fire records management system (RMS) can make getting insight into operations easier and more accurate than ever. From logging and outputting incident reports, to managing shift schedules and HR records, to storing preplanning and inspection records, an RMS tool can simplify numerous elements of department management.

Making the switch to an RMS – or shopping for a new, more powerful one – can be a big job. Not only are you investing a substantial amount of money in purchase costs, but you’ll be training you crews and management team, working with vendor support teams, and committing to a long-term relationship with your new software.

That said, it’s critical that you purchase an RMS that truly works for you and not against you. The following are 5 mistakes you’ll want to avoid when buying a new fire RMS.

1. A Lack of Integration
It’s important that your fire RMS works well with with your other existing software tools. Consider the daily functions of working between your systems; you may need interactions with CAD, billing services, monitors, or other databases in order to have a complete suite of tools that meet your needs.

Your fire RMS software should contain modules that speak to each other to minimize data entry, searching, and other time-wasting activities. For example, look for a fire RMS that can populate property information with permit information. Ensure that it integrates with your ePCR software to eliminate manual entry of EMS call data. Look for a fire RMS that will automatically update your property preplans with the most up-to-date hydrant information. These little integrations add up to a big difference in efficiencies, and if your RMS doesn’t include them, you’ll want to continue your search.

2. Inefficient Workflows
When looking for a new fire RMS, you should be identifying those tools that have a streamlined workflow, allowing you to complete tasks in the simplest way and capture accurate and rich data without creating extra work with roadblocks. If the process of using the tool is cumbersome, it can negatively affect your department’s efficiency, not to mention frustrate your team members. Features like progressive validation that checks for errors as reports are being completed can save you time by eliminating the dreaded task of having to go back and search for errors or deal with hidden inaccuracies.

Take a good look at how your operations function – the most common tasks and biggest pain points – and ensure the new tool offers ease of use in these areas. Consider creating a task force with representatives from various roles to ensure you’re considering all the functionality your RMS will be serving. Avoid a fire RMS with cumbersome workflows and clunky functionalities so you can ensure your crews are set up for success rather than dealing with workarounds and duplicated efforts.

3. Difficulty of Use
Collecting and using fire data has become increasingly important for fire departments, and the quality and accuracy of that data has become even more prominent. Software that is difficult to use in the field or at the firehouse can result in inaccurate data entry, thereby decreasing the quality of data in reporting. And a fire department using incorrect information as insight to improve its operations or training could be incredibly detrimental to the department.

If your fire RMS software is not intuitive and easy to use, you might experience an unwanted response from your crew, and likely end up with inadequate data that is unusable. You can avoid this by proactively asking crews how they feel about your current fire RMS software and gather their responses. Ask for what improvements they would need in order to make their job easier, resulting in high quality data. Use this information in your fire RMS research to find the software your department needs.

4. Inadequate Analytics
There’s nothing worse than having a ton of data and no clue how to process it. If data doesn’t lead you to insight and better decisions, it’s not worth much to your department. You’ll want to avoid a fire RMS that doesn’t provide you with the tools to easily turn your data into actionable insights.

A Fire RMS should help you do a wide range of tasks more efficiently. For example, some will automatically submit your required reporting to various state or regional organizations. Others feature the ability to compare data over a long historic timeframe, which is important for QI projects and grant applications. Some feature filters to allow you to compare data based on demographics, ideal for seeing trends in incidents and calls, or planning your next CRR program. And of course, the basics of operations are key in budget planning.

Bottom line, your RMS analytics should help you tell your fire story. If you’re collecting the necessary data but constantly struggling to make sense of it, you’ll want to ensure your new fire RMS does not suffer from inadequate analytics.

5. Lacking Tools
Fire departments are constantly evolving, and so are their needs. It’s important that your fire software reporting tools are open and flexible; you don’t want to purchase a solution that will be outdated or cause you problems in a few years. Do your research on what tools and modules come with your fire RMS so you’ll always have the full range of tools needed to meet for your department’s evolving needs.

Additionally, take time to discuss with the RMS vendor what tools they offer now and how they keep up with developments from NFIRS, NEMSIS, ISO, and other regulatory bodies. Top vendors are often involved in the firefighting community and professional organizations, involved in thought leadership on what the future holds for firefighting. Take these steps to ensure your tools tools can evolve with your department and the industry.

Purchasing a fire RMS tool is a long-term commitment, and one you don’t want to take lightly. But doing your research and avoiding these pitfalls can help ensure your success and a long, happy relationship with your software tool, leading to truly beneficial insights and rich, accurate data.

Learn more about how your department can get started with ESO Fire RMS, the next generation of Fire RMS.

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