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Drone updates: Changes and new legislation challenge government agencies

By: Ben Roper
06.10.20

Read this if you are a government agency interested in creating a drone program or evaluating your current program.

A lot has changed since BerryDunn’s blog, Prize in the sky: Creating drone programs for local governments was published. At the time, technology news website Recode reported that since December 2015 almost 800,000 drones had been registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

As of March 10, 2020, the FAA reports that number had nearly doubled, to 1,563,263 registered drones with 171,744 remote pilots certified under Part 107. 

Changes are underway

One of the most far-reaching changes being considered is the remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems contained in the FAA Notice of Proposed Rule Making issued December 31, 2019. This proposed action would require the remote identification (Remote ID) of unmanned aircraft, similar to the identification provided by transponders in manned aircraft. The FAA received over 53,000 comments to the proposed rule. If approved this rule will require drones flown in the National Airspace System (NAS) to have the capability of broadcasting certain identity information, adding to drone cost. Depending on the length of any potential grandfather period, the rule may make some existing drones illegal to fly. 

Another recent development is the late 2019 introduction of the American Security Drone Act. If passed, this Act would prevent federal agencies from purchasing any drones or “unmanned aircraft systems” from a nation identified as a national security threat. That would include China and Iran. Although the Act only applies to federal agencies, many local governments tend to follow the federal lead. Additionally, many local government drone programs use federal grant funds to initiate or sustain their drone programs. Local government agencies will have to watch the development of this Act carefully.

Passage will make the purchase and operation of foreign manufactured drones, or drones with certain foreign manufactured components unlawful for federal departments or agencies. This is significant in that industry analysts estimate that the Chinese drone company DJI has approximately 70% of the global drone market share, and manufactures the vast majority of drones used by local governments.  

What hasn’t changed

As the drone landscape continues to evolve, some things remain the same. According to the FAA, local governments looking to establish a drone program still have two options to legally fly drones under 55 pounds: 

  • Fly under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 107, the small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) rule. Part 107 allows operations of drones or UAS under 55 pounds, at or below 400 feet above ground level (AGL), for visual line-of-sight operations only.
  • Fly under the statutory requirements for public aircraft (49 United States Code (U.S.C.) §40102(a) and § 40125). Operate with a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to be able to self-certify UAS and operators for flights performing governmental functions. 

There are pros and cons for each of these options, as shown below, and it is important for you to carefully consider which option best meets your mission. Government organizations have the advantage of using both options, provided they meet the separate requirements for each option, and determine which option the organization will use prior to the beginning of each flight. The option of flying under Part 107, or as a public aircraft using a COA is unique to government organizations. This option allows government organizations to pick the flight option that is most advantageous for the mission. 

For example, relatively routine public safety operations such as taking photos and mapping for accident reconstruction most like would be flown under Part 107, as advance notification requirements required in many COAs would not be needed. Whereas operation in circumstances prohibited under Part 107, may be authorized by the government agencies COA. 

Table 1: Pros and Cons of UAS operations under a COA versus Part 107

Public Aircraft Ops (COA) Part 107
Pros Self-certify aircraft airworthiness Requirements and certification published and broadly know
Determine aircrew and UAS remote operation training requirements Commercial training and testing for UAS remote operator license commercially available 
Cons The application process can be long, often taking several months Flight restrictions may not be compatible with government agency mission requirements
Visual observer may be required UAS pilots must complete required training and pass FAA exam

Another requirement that has not changed, is that your government organization must registered with the FAA before flying. Registration is relatively straight forward using the FAA drone zone website. Following registration, you will receive an FAA registration certificate. The FAA requires a drone operator to have the registration certificate (either a paper or digital copy) in their possession when they fly. 

Considerations before starting

Before jumping on the drone bandwagon, your organization should carefully evaluate how drones will be used within the organization. Development of policy, consideration for communications with citizens about the program and how information collected will be stored and used are considerations that should be addressed before any purchase is made. Multiple organizations have highlighted the need for planning prior to purchasing drones:

  • The International Fire Chiefs Association recommends that “fire and emergency service takes into account the legal, ethical and moral considerations of flying a UAS for each situation…and municipalities or public safety agencies seeking to use UAS should construct usage policies.
  • In a report to the National Institute of Justice in December 2019, the National Police Foundation stated, "Do not acquire a system until the agency’s UAS program has been clearly defined, especially the mission, and approved for implementation." (Lessons Learned from the Early Adopters (Shinnamon, D. L., & Cowell, B. M. (2019), Building and managing a successful public safety UAS program: Practical guidance and lessons learned from the early adopters. Washington, DC: National Police Foundation).  

A solid approach to establishing a drone program

The challenges of creating a drone program can overwhelm government organizations or agencies, especially small to mid-sized entities. Dealing with issues such as airspace restrictions, training requirements, weather effects on small UAS operations, remote ID and crew resource management can be daunting without assistance. In addition to Federal requirements, many states have passed regulations affecting drone use.  

BerryDunn’s history of assisting local governments continues with our comprehensive drone program, that we can tailor to meet your individual agency needs. We can assist in establishing requirements, develop a concept of operations, write policy, conduct FAA filings, and, if desired, provide training for public aircraft operators.

A further benefit to local governments: BerryDunn is not affiliated with any drone manufacturer, and does not sell hardware or software. Our independence allows us to conduct a truly objective analysis and provide drone program regulations in your best interest. If you have questions about starting a drone program, or have a specific question about your situation, please contact us. We’re here to help. 

Related Industries

Related Professionals

Private-sector pundits love to drone on about drones! Also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs), drones are dramatically altering processes and increasing opportunities in the for-profit world. There is no doubt that these changes and resulting benefits are helping to increase drone usage; in March 2017, technology news website Recode reported that since December 2015 almost 800,000 drones had been registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Yet private businesses don’t operate all 800,000. Various government organizations have seen the value of UASs—especially local government agencies—and are using them. Public safety departments are using UASs to reduce risk and increase situational awareness during hostage negotiations, SWAT operations, search and rescue, firefighting, accident investigations, hazardous material situations, and disaster surveillance. Many use drones to quickly (and inexpensively) document projects, survey land, and create maps. As officials in places such as Appleton, Wisconsin know, the possibilities of drone usage by local governments are endless.

Still, drone technology remains relatively new, and navigating the regulatory environment can be difficult. As a result, establishing a local government UAS program is time-consuming and full of obstacles. Local officials have many questions, including:

  • How can we establish drone programs that meet regulatory requirements?

  • How do we inform and educate constituents about drone programs?

  • What is the typical budget for a local government drone program?

  • How can we determine if we can operate as civil users under FAA Part 107, or as public aircraft operators?

  • What are general best practices for local government drone use?

Daunting, certainly, but help is here. We have assisted local governments for over two decades, and have developed a comprehensive drone program that we can tailor to meet individual agency needs. We can assist in establishing requirements, develop a concept of operations, write policy, conduct FAA filings, and, if desired, provide training for public aircraft operators.

A further benefit to local governments: BerryDunn is not affiliated with any drone manufacturer, and does not sell hardware or software. Our independence allows us to conduct a truly objective analysis and provide drone program recommendations that are in your best interest.

Article
Prize in the sky: Creating drone programs for local governments

Read this if you use, manage, or procure public safety and corrections technology.

Recently we discussed the benefits of developing a strong, succinct Request for Proposal (RFP) that attracts Offender Management Systems (OMS) vendors through a competitive solicitation. Conversely, we explored the advantages and disadvantages of leading a non-competitive solicitation. Industry standards and best practices serve as the common thread between competitive and non-competitive solicitations for standard implementations. So, how does an agency prepare to navigate the nuances and avoid the “gotchas” of a non-standard implementation in the corrections realm?

Functional areas in the corrections industry exist in an ever-evolving state. The ongoing functional area refinements serve to overcome potential gaps between standardizing organizations (e.g., CTA, APPA) and your agency’s operations. For example, CTA does not distinguish incidents from disciplines as distinct functional areas. While merging workflows for incidents and disciplines may align with one agency’s practice, your agency may not always correlate the two functions (e.g., disciplinary action might not always result from an incident). Moreover, your agency may not have a need for every functional area, such as community corrections, depending on the scale of your operation.

Your agency should view the industry standards as a guide rather than the source of truth, which helps you cultivate a less parochial approach driven solely by standards and follow instead a more pragmatic plan, comprised of your unique operations and best practices. CTA and APPA specifications alone will result in comprehensive solicitation. For that reason, agencies can enhance an OMS modernization initiative by enhancing solicitation requirements to include jurisdictional specifications resulting from interviews with end-users and policy research. 

Upcoming OMS webinar

On Thursday, November 5, our consulting team will host a webinar on navigating a solicitation for a new OMS. During the webinar, our team will revisit the benefits of an independent third-party on your solicitation and review industry standards, and will discuss:

  1. Crafting requirements that address common OMS functions, as well as jurisdiction-specific functions (i.e., those that address the unique statutes of the state). Crafting requirements helps your agency to ensure a replacement system addresses core business functions, provides a modern technical infrastructure, and complies with local, state, and federal regulations.
  2. Thriving with a collaborative approach when acquiring and implementing an OMS system, helping to ensure all stakeholders not only participate in the project but also buy into the critical success factors.

If you have questions about your specific situation with OMS implementations, or would like to receive more information about the webinar, please contact one of our public safety consultants.
 

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Managing non-standard Offender Management System (OMS) implementations

Read this if you use, manage, or procure public safety and corrections technology. 

In our previous post, we discussed the link between developing a technology RFP with meaning, structure, and clarity to enhance the competitive nature of the solicitation. In this article, we ask: How can your agency synthesize and unify existing business processes with industry standards to attract modern OMS providers? The answer? Your agency crosswalks. 

Industry standards, such as those set by the Corrections Technology Association (CTA) and American Probation and Parole Association (APPA), establish the benchmark for modern operations. However, legacy correction software limitations often blur the one-to-one relationship with industry standards. For that reason, crosswalk tools help agencies map current process into industry-wide standards.

CTA Functional Areas

Corrections Technology Association Functional Areas

Agencies crosswalk in preparation for a corrections technology procurement to help align system requirements with commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) corrections management systems. In revisiting the topics of clarity, meaning, and structure, the crosswalk helps technology vendors understand your current operations, the tools your currently use to support the operations, and the way in which those operations relate to industry functional areas.

In an iterative fashion, the CTA crosswalk first helps you understand your agency’s technology and operational structure, and then communicates system requirements to correction technology providers in an industry-led framework. The approach helps you transition from your legacy processes to your new operational environment.

Although your agency can engage the market with a meaningful, structured, and clear RFP, prequalification and contract vehicles provide a viable alternative of enhancement to procuring a new offender management system. The following advantages and disadvantages can inform your agency’s decision to use a prequalification vehicle.

Advantages:

  1. Non-competitive procurement can often be accomplished more quickly given the absence of the timeframe usually dedicated to the development of the RFP, posting to potential vendors, and evaluation of proposals.
  2. Reduced uncertainties in terms of what a vendor is able to provide since an open dialog starts immediately.
  3. Competitive procurement (secondary competition) under a contract vehicle is limited to the vendors who proposed and were awarded. Only higher performing vendors are likely to be able to respond, particularly if only certain vendors are selected from the list.
  4. Potentially better pricing as a vendor can eliminate unknowns through open communication, so less risk is priced into the proposal.
  5. A better environment around requested changes, as a vendor that has maintained a certain margin in their pricing may be more amenable to no-cost change orders.

Disadvantages:

  1. The agency loses some negotiating advantage when a vendor knows they are the only ones in the procurement conversation. 
  2. A vendor may have less incentive to “put their best foot forward” and offer higher levels of service and functionality.
  3. Competitive cost may not be obtained because the vendor doesn’t have to worry about beating a competitor.
  4. Secondary competition may take a somewhat similar timeframe because the solicitation, evaluation, and award processes take a similar amount of time to an RFP for larger projects.

The trajectory to develop an RFP for new corrections management software spans assessing existing operations and technology to including mapping current operations into industry standards clarity. At the same time your agency should consider the driving and constraining factors for using a prequalification or contract vehicle.

BerryDunn has experience with cross-walking agencies into industry-leading practices, and we also understand the need for non-standard RFPs that extend beyond CTA and APPA guidelines. Reach out to our public safety consultants if you have questions, or look out for our next blog providing insight on adapting to and overlapping challenges in non-standard corrections technology procurements.

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Leveraging industry standards to optimize Offender Management Systems (OMS)

Read this if you use, manage, or procure public safety and corrections technology. 

When initiating the selection of a new technology platform to replace legacy software, how does an agency ensure the new system addresses functional and technical requirements while also complying with procurement standards? Request for Proposals (RFP) serve as an effective purchasing vehicle, particularly when agencies seek to identify modern technology with professional services to implement the software. While correctional agencies may use an RFP to engage a new Offender Management System (OMS) provider, the complexities of the industry and vast range of best practices complicate the planning, scoping, issuance, and evaluation process. 

With the long-term vision set to complete projects on time, under budget, and within scope, independent third-parties write technology RFPs to enhance traceability and accountability during implementation.

An independent third-party can help your agency:

  1. Define a meaningful project scope to scale the vendor market and guide quality proposals
  2. Develop effective forms, worksheets, and attachments to supplement RFP requirements to support compliance and meet proposal standards
  3. Build a balanced evaluation committee with impartial scoring criteria to represent agency-wide needs and fairly rank vendors
  4. Craft a structured procurement package that attracts multiple vendors to find the solution that best fits your needs
  5. Design a reasonable and achievable RFP schedule of events to finish the project in a timely manner
  6. Reduce ambiguity and increase clarity of RFP terms to streamline the process

If your agency incorporates a sound strategy to craft a meaningful RFP, then a lengthy, meandering procurement journey will become a well-defined, objective, and seamless process to identify new software. Furthermore, you can enhance competitive responses with an RFP free from ambiguity―and full of clarity.

If your corrections agency does engage outside help to facilitate development of an RFP for new OMS software, you should ensure that the third party you engage has experience supporting a meaningful, balanced, and structured purchasing process. BerryDunn injects best practices from the Corrections Technology Association (CTA) and American Probation and Parole Association (APPA). Pairing CTA and APPA standards with an RFP tailored to the technology markets will help an agency boost vendor responses to ultimately improve critical operations.

Reach out to our public safety consultants directly for questions, or look out for our next blog providing insight on leveraging industry standards (e.g., CTA, APPA) when crafting an RFP for corrections technology.
 

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Sourcing new IT systems: Third-party advantages

Read this if you are a member or leader of a policing agency. 

Due to recent events, community members have taken to the streets nationwide to demand what they deserve from the police as a starting point: social and procedural justice. 

Social justice is an essential component of healthy, effective communities. It is based on a fair and just relationship between individuals and society. Social justice demands that those in the community feel safe—including feeling safe from the police. Feeling safe starts with procedurally-just policing. Procedural justice in policing is the principle that forms the foundation of the community’s willingness, individually and aggregately, to accept the actions of the police, obey laws, participate in the criminal justice system, and partner with law enforcement to reduce crime and disorder, and is dependent on the community’s acceptance of policing actions as fair and equitable. Procedural justice consists of four primary pillars:

  1. FAIRNESS
    Being fair in processes
  2. VOICE
    Providing the opportunity for voice 
  3. TRANSPARENCY
    Being transparent in actions
  4. IMPARTIALITY
    Being impartial in decision-making

Achieving social and procedural justice within policing requires meaningful change and reform that must extend beyond prior efforts. 

Across the United States, communities are calling for revised policies, targeted training, increased accountability, and better screening of police candidates. All of these efforts are important and should be explored. However, these same efforts have been pursued since community-oriented policing (COP) became popular in the 80s and 90s, and even as COP gained additional interest and momentum following a series of high-profile excessive-force incidents that trace back nearly a decade. Despite substantial focus on these areas within the law enforcement industry, concerns over systemic racism, biased policing, and a lack of trust between the police and the community continue to persist.

Community Co-production Policing: The crucial next step

The current policing environment calls for broad and deep reforms in the operations and collaborative culture of police agencies. This level of reform requires a coordinated effort to reframe the police department as a community-owned resource, and can be accomplished through engaging a Community Co-production Policing (CCPP) model. Implementation of the CCPP model, developed by BerryDunn in collaboration with practitioners and community members across the country, merges and unifies police agencies and communities through multiple collaborative pathways, resulting in shared responsibilities in areas such as guidance, oversight, and the development of policies, operational strategies, public safety priorities, and other shared goals.  

Co-production expands the focus of traditional COP and includes a greater level of community participation and involvement in key policing strategies that affect the community. The key distinction is that while COP is informative, interactive, allows for community input, and is often collaborative with regard to problem solving, co-production involves a greater level of influence and involvement by the community regarding the overarching policing strategies and priorities that ultimately affect those being served by the police agency.  

Building trust and confidence with the community

From a co-production policing perspective, influence and involvement from the community form the foundation for trust and confidence in the police agency and agreement in the processes, procedures, and practices used in pursuit of public safety for those who live in or visit the community. This level of involvement serves as a persistent external accountability process, which helps ensure consistent alignment between community desires and expectations and the actions the police use to meet them. 

Co-production is a collaborative process, not an oversight process. It involves working together to cooperatively co-produce public safety, in a respectful and thoughtful manner that places value on mutuality.

Below, the goals and predicted outcomes of the CCPP model are outlined. Accomplishing the CCPP goals is expected to produce the predicted outcomes, and these new positive outcomes address the longstanding negative outcomes that remain unresolved within the policing industry.

CCPP Goals and Predicted Outcomes
CCCP GOALS PREDICTED OUTCOMES
Reducing fractionalism: The inharmonious separation which has occurred between the community and those responsible for policing it. Increased community trust: Because the community shares decision-making authority in substantive policing matters, they will have shared ownership over the results.
Creating transparency: There can be no more secrecy in accountability or policymaking, or in determining strategies to address and reduce crime and disorder. Enhanced public safety: Trust is the cornerstone to solving crimes, and when trust is established, people will more readily assist in public safety matters affecting them.
Balancing power: Those who police the community must have the authority to do so, however, police department governance should be a shared responsibility. Improved racial/diversity equity: Diverse partnerships lead to greater understanding, which in turn, changes perspectives, beliefs, and behaviors.


The public outcry for police reform provides cities, towns, and counties with a rare opportunity to affect how their communities are policed in the future. This opportunity involves transforming policing towards a collaborative model where the police departments of the future are increasingly community-based and community-operated. BerryDunn’s CCPP model can help communities achieve this level of reform and transformation. 

For more information

Mitch Weinzetl and BerryDunn’s Justice and Public Safety (J&PS) team are leading this unique service. Our independence and objectivity enables a facilitation-based approach to engaging stakeholders across the community with the goal of collaborating on a future policing model that addresses the need for public safety in a way that is informed and inspired by the community that the police departments serve. 

To learn more about how the CCPP model can help reconnect your police department and your community, contact Mitch Weinzetl.
 

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Policing in America: Time for a change

Read this if your organization, business, or institution has leases and you’ve been eagerly awaiting and planning for the implementation of the new lease standards.

Ready? Set? Not yet. As we have prepared for and experienced delays related to Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Codification Topic 842, Leases, and Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 87, Leases, we thought the time had finally come for implementation. With the challenges that COVID-19 has brought to everyone, the FASB and GASB recognize the significant impact COVID-19 has had on commercial businesses, state and local governments, and not-for-profits and both have proposed delays in effective dates for various accounting standards, including both lease standards.

But wait, there’s more! In response to feedback FASB received during the comment period for the lease standard, the revenue recognition standard has also been extended. We didn’t see that coming, and expect that many organizations that didn’t opt for early adoption will breathe a collective sigh of relief.

FASB details and a deeper dive

On May 20, 2020, FASB voted to delay the effective date of the lease standard and the revenue recognition standard. A formal Accounting Standards Update (ASU) summarizing these changes will be released early June. Here’s what we know now:

  • Revenue recognition―for entities that have not yet issued financial statements, the effective date of the application of FASB Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) Topic 606, Revenue Recognition, has been delayed by 12 months (effective for reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2019). This does not apply to public entities or nonpublic entities that are conduit debt obligors who previously adopted this guidance.
  • Leases―for entities that have not yet adopted the guidance from ASC 842, Leases, the effective date has been extended by 12 months (effective for reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2021).
  • Early adoption of either standard is still allowed.

FASB has also provided clarity on lease concessions that are highlighted in Topic 842. 

We recognize many lessors are making concessions due to the pandemic. Under current guidance in Topics 840 and 842, changes to lease contracts that were not included in the original lease are generally accounted for as lease modifications and, therefore, a separate contract. This would require remeasurement of the new lease contract and related right-of-use asset. 

FASB recognized this issue and has published a FASB Staff Questions and Answers (Q&A) Document, Topic 842 and Topic 840: Accounting for Lease Concessions Related to the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Under this new guidance, if lease concessions are made relating to COVID-19, entities do not need to analyze each contract to determine if a new contract has been entered into, and will have the option to apply, or not to apply, the lease modification provisions of Topics 840 and 842.

GASB details

On May 8, 2020, GASB issued Statement No. 95, Postponement of the Effective Dates of Certain Authoritative Guidance. GASB 95 extends the implementation dates of several pronouncements including:
•    Statement No. 84, Fiduciary Activities―extended by 12 months (effective for reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2019)
•    Statement No. 87, Leases―extended by 18 months (effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2021)

More information

If you have questions, please contact a member of our financial statement audit team. For other COVID-19 related resources, please refer to BerryDunn’s COVID-19 Resources Page.
 

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May 2020 accounting standard delay status: GASB and FASB

Read this if you are a police executive, city/county administrator, or elected government official responsible for a law enforcement agency. 

Who you gonna call? 

Law enforcement agencies provide essential services to our communities vital to maintaining order and public safety. These critical organizations always answer the call, and they are prepared for every type of disaster imaginable: floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, train derailments, and even... a pandemic?

Police agencies plan, prepare, and train for disasters, and are particularly adept and agile in their response to them. As an industry, law enforcement agencies are also very good at helping one another in times of need. When there is a major disaster in your community, your agency can always count on neighboring departments sending you some much needed resources―that is, unless everyone has the same problem. Then what do you do?

Although law enforcement agencies are very capable, their strength is in sprinting, not running marathons. Even the best and most-qualified police agencies struggle with the strain of long-lasting disasters, particularly when there are no other resources to help. That is when having the right patrol-schedule design can be critical. If your patrol schedule is inefficient in the first place, managing a lengthy disaster or critical event will magnify those inefficiencies, exhausting your personnel and fiscal resources at the same time.

Flaws in patrol schedule design = reduced efficiency

Flaws in the patrol schedule design often contribute to reduced efficiency and suboptimal performance, and design issues may work against your ability to maintain operational staffing during critical times of need. So, how do you know if your patrol schedule is serving you well? 

To help agencies evaluate their patrol schedules, BerryDunn has developed at free tool. Click here to measure your patrol schedule against key design components and considerations. If your agency scores low in this self-assessment, it may be time to consider making some adjustments. 

The path to resolving inefficiencies in your patrol work schedule and optimizing the effective deployment of patrol personnel requires thoughtful consideration of several overarching goals:

  • Reducing or eliminating predictable overtime
  • Eliminating peaks and valleys in staffing due to scheduled leave
  • Ensuring appropriate staffing levels in all patrol zones or beats
  • Providing sufficient staff to manage multiple and priority Calls for Service  in patrol zones or beats
  • Satisfying both operational and staff needs, including helping to ensure a proper work/life balance and equitable workloads for patrol staff

Accomplishing these goals requires an intentional approach, customized to your agency’s characteristics (e.g., staffing levels, geographic factors, crime rates, zone/beat design, contract/labor rules). BerryDunn can help your agency assess the patrol schedule, and if necessary, provide guidance and assistance on implementation of a more effective model. 

If you are interested in a patrol work-schedule assessment or redesign or a patrol staffing study, our dedicated Justice & Public Safety consultants are available to discuss your organization’s needs.

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Continuity of patrol operations in a COVID-19 environment

Read this if you are planning for, or are in the process of implementing a new software solution.

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is more than just another step in the implementation of a software solution. It can verify system functionality, increase the opportunity for a successful project, and create additional training opportunities for your team to adapt to the new software quickly. Independent verification through a structured user acceptance plan is essential for a smooth transition from a development environment to a production environment. 

Verification of functionality

The primary purpose of UAT is to verify that a system is ready to go live. Much of UAT is like performing a pre-flight checklist on an aircraft. Wings... check, engines... check, tires... check. A structured approach to UAT can verify that everything is working prior to rolling out a new software system for everyone to use. 

To hold vendors accountable for their contractual obligations, we recommend an agency test each functional and technical requirement identified in the statement of work portion of their contract. 

It is also recommended that the agency verify the functional and technical requirements that the vendor replied positivity to in the RFP for the system you are implementing. 

Easing the transition to a new software

Operational change management (OCM) is a term that describes a methodology for making the switch to a new software solution. Think of implementing a new software solution like learning a new language. For some employees, the legacy software solution is the only way they know how to do their job. Like learning a new language, changing the way business and learning a new software can be a challenging and scary task. The benefits outweigh the anxiety associated with learning a new language. You can communicate with a broader group of people, and maybe even travel the world! This is also true for learning a new software solution; there are new and exciting ways to perform your job.

Throughout all organizations there will be some employees resistant to change. Getting those employees involved in UAT can help. By involving them in testing the new system and providing feedback prior to implementation, they will feel ownership and be less likely to resist the change. In our experience, some of the most resistant employees, once involved in the process, become the biggest champions of the new system.  

Training and testing for better results

On top of the OCM and verification benefits a structured UAT can accomplish, UAT can be a great training opportunity. An agency needs to be able to perform actions of the tested functionality. For example, if an agency is testing a software’s ability to import a document, then a tester needs to be trained on how to do that task. By performing this task, the tester learns how to login to the software, navigate the software, and perform tasks that the end user will be accomplishing in their daily use of the new software. 

Effective UAT and change management

We have observed agencies that have installed software that was either not fully configured or the final product was not what was expected when the project started. The only way to know that software works how you want is to test it using business-driven scenarios. BerryDunn has developed a UAT process, customizable to each client, which includes a UAT tracking tool. This process and related tool helps to ensure that we inspect each item and develop steps to resolve issues when the software doesn’t function as expected. 

We also incorporate change management into all aspects of a project and find that the UAT process is the optimal time to do so. Following established and proven approaches for change management during UAT is another opportunity to optimize implementation of a new software solution. 

By building a structured approach to UAT, you can enjoy additional benefits, as additional training and OCM benefits can make the difference between forming a positive or a negative reaction to the new software. By conducting a structured and thorough UAT, you can help your users gain confidence in the process, and increase adoption of the new software. 

Please contact the team if you have specific questions relating to your specific needs, or to see how we can help your agency validate the new system’s functionality and reduce resistance to the software. We’re here to help.   
 

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User Acceptance Testing: A plan for successful software implementation