What to Consider Before Switching to Another Fire RMS
Whether you’re finally making the move from paper records to digital, or simply want to upgrade your digital record-keeping experience, switching to a new record management system for your fire station may seem daunting. For starters, there’s quite a bit of research and homework necessary to select the right software platform and vendor. Then, you must consider what the on-boarding and transition experience will be like, along with training and ongoing support.
It’s a big investment in time and resources, and choosing your new tool is a decision that should be taken seriously and with due diligence.
That said, there are several pointers that can help ensure you’re asking all the right questions going into your selection process. After narrowing down your top potential vendors, it’s helpful to make a list of the key areas of concern for your department, as well as questions regarding ongoing integration and support.
Of course, the bottom line is always important, and your budget may dictate which vendors are on your final list. However, it’s just as important to identify any hidden costs that might hit you in the long run. For example:
- How much will it cost to add additional users if your number of employees grow?
- What are the costs for support or additional training?
- Are there any costs associated with future software or system upgrades?
Asking these questions is important because it not only helps you avoid any unexpected bills, but also represents the total overall cost of each vendor as opposed to just the initial purchase price.
When you are shopping for a new fire RMS, it’s important that you prioritize specifically what your station needs. One size does not fit all when it comes to software, so don’t be afraid to ask for exactly what your department needs to operate efficiently. This includes integration with other tools currently in use.
For example, you’ll want to make sure that the RMS tool supports NFIRS documentation and +1 codes. You should also consider the daily functions of working between your systems, such as CAD, billing services, monitors, or other databases.
You should ensure that it integrates with your ePCR software to eliminate manual entry of EMS call data. Some RMS tools can even automatically update your property preplans with information like current hydrant status. Asking about these integrations prevents you from having to create tedious or expensive workarounds down the line.
The support you receive from your vendor can actually make a huge difference in your experience in switching over to a new RMS tool. From the moment you contact them to set up a demo, to how responsive they are in communication, consider what life will be like working hand-in-hand in the near- and long-term. Be sure to review their training and onboarding procedure; for example, some vendors will assign you a specific training support rep who will even plan onsite training for your team.
It’s also important to compare what kind of support costs you’ll be looking at in the future in case your needs change. Know the cost of adding more staff members or additional functionality. Again, the hidden costs should be considered when comparing platforms.
4. The Extras
There are also a handful of extra considerations that should come into play in your decision of selecting your next RMS tool, such as:
- Does the vendor understand the fire and emergency response industry? Does it play an active role in thought leadership and understand the current and future needs of fire departments? Will it be around for the long haul?
- How easy is it to use the tool itself? Are there functions that you like more in one platform versus another? How easy would it be to use in the field?
- How does the product make data accessible while maintaining security? If the product works through a virtual environment, the vendor will most likely take on the responsibility of ensuring all data is protected and secure, while still being available to those with the right credentials.
- What kind of reporting does the tool offer? Is it automated and customizable?
Switching to a new fire RMS tool is a serious commitment, but one that promises great rewards in operational efficiency and ease of use for your teams. With the right vendor, the transition can be as painless as possible, and by asking the right questions, you can help ensure you’re getting all the functionality you need to reap the benefits as quickly as possible.
For more tips on selecting the right RMS vendor for your fire station, download the free ESO Fire RMS Buyer’s Guide.