Overview

Thank you for visiting this site. You most likely arrived here because you work in Police or Law Enforcement and you are potentially considering acquiring new police scheduling software, replacing an existing scheduling system or process, or just want to find out some more information about scheduling software and systems. Or, perhaps you were “voluntold” to devise a solution to scheduling for your Department.

The arrival of the Internet, web based network computing, and readily available technology for mobile access and devices has been a catalyst for new software and services being offered on the market to help facilitate employee scheduling, time management, and resource allocation. No longer is it the case that police scheduling is relegated to pen and paper and laborious manual processes. Agencies are realizing that the amount of effort and staff time expended for scheduling is less cost effective than more advantageous approaches that utilize computerized tools. This site will discuss some considerations when planning, selecting, acquiring, and procuring software to perform police scheduling.

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TYPES OF POLICE SCHEDULING


There are several types of scheduling needs that an Organization will have to manage and consider when addressing staffing, shift coverage, and off duty/event security. Hence, there are many software providers that focus on meeting these needs. Some software vendors focus on specific staffing areas such as police staffing and some vendors offer broader products to manage employee scheduling in general; i.e. a software used to schedule other industries with service delivery type personnel such as hospitals, restaurants, and hospitality. For Police and Law Enforcement, scheduling is generally broken down to these distinctive areas:

On Duty
Police on duty scheduling is a core scheduling need critical to public safety and law enforcement services provided by Agencies. On duty is considered a police employees “Real Job” or primary job. Typically, on duty officers work in shifts with a set of regular days off. These shifts provide coverage such as mornings or days, evenings, and midnights, and even other “watches” during busier times to augment resources. Larger Agencies will use staffing models to address needs and ensure minimum staffing levels are adhered to. Time and attendance tracking is very important for this type of duty.

Off Duty, Extra Duty, Secondary Duty, and Special Events Stadium Seats
Work provided off the clock is considered “off duty”. The names for this type of work have several variations. Essentially, police officers perform security services (possibly as a self-employed contractor) normally in uniform at a variety of venues including private businesses, construction details, community or special events, sports venues, churches, banks, etc... Typically, the officer still maintains and carries the authority of his/her commission for his/her respective Organization (and of course a duty weapon). Due to officer safety concerns Agencies may try to limit and/or track the amount of time spent working off duty assignments. Police unions may also be involved in the rules and policies regulating off duty work. In some cities this type of work requires a fee per hour assessment charged to the host to recover expenses to manage the Agency’s program (or, in some cases provide an additional revenue stream). Also, there are sometimes liability issues regarding who the “Employer” is during this type of work in cases of injury. Lastly, in some cities it is a mandatory requirement by ordinance that events, depending on attributes such as expected attendance, event type, whether alcohol is served, etc.., maintain a uniformed police presence.

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CHALLENGES AND THE NEED FOR POLICE SCHEDULING SOFTWARE


As one can imagine, there are real challenges Agencies face to manage police scheduling whether it is on duty or off duty. Some of these challenges include fairness, transparency, accountability, availability, safety, union rules, federal and state work rules, shift management, and several others not mentioned. The challenges are numerous. Also, it is a very cumbersome process to schedule officers that may number in the hundreds with consideration for assigned shifts, days off, and other influential factors. As a provider of services law enforcement agencies want to ensure the well-being and safety of the public, property, and their officers. Agencies have a finite limit of staff available and there are many needs and demands for security personnel. So, how are Agencies managing on duty shift scheduling and off duty scheduling?

Smaller to mid-sized Agencies may rely on past scheduling, typical patterns, or practice so pen and paper although not ideal may be suitable. However, as the Agency’s size increases and the need to track and monitor time increases it becomes necessary to institute some type of system (online or offline). At some point, it may be beneficial out of necessity to investigate procuring scheduling software to improve efficiency. At the low end, a spread sheet may be sufficient but as complexity increases a vendor provided or “in-house” written software will allow Agencies to better track, allocate, and manage staff resources.

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SOFTWARE ACQUISITION, VENDOR SELECTION, AND PROCUREMENT


Most likely if you are reading this site you wear a badge (it probably has one of these words on it: Sergeant, Lieutenant, Sheriff, or even Chief) and “IT” is an intimidating word or another Department at your Organization that speaks in their own strange acronym based language. If you are considering a project to obtain a police scheduling software or system you will need some basic education related to the terminology and the software procurement process. And, no, they did not teach you this at the Academy. Unless you have your own budgetary and technical resources the final decision for the software may be outside your control but hopefully for your sake as the system owner and end user you can exert influence on the overall process. The following resources will provide you a broad overview of some of the aspects of software selection and procurement. The steps are merely guidelines; there are books and web sites devoted to this topic. The first word to learn is “COTS”, almost like the word “cops”, but actually it stands for “Commercial off the Shelf”. This means something you purchase from a vendor as opposed to “in-house” which means written by you, a contractor, or your IT staff. You may be able to obtain a free police scheduling software if another Agency wrote a proprietary system “in-house” and they are willing to share the code, but, honestly, the prospects of obtaining a free system are remote. Another long shot, but feasible option, is to search for an Open Source community written scheduling software, but it may be relegated to just event scheduling and non-law enforcement specific.

Basically, here are the steps or outline of activities to plan, select, acquire, and implement new software assuming a vendor procured software:

SOFTWARE PROCUREMENT PROCESS

TASK TASK DESCRIPTION
Identify the need Sometimes called a “needs assessment” or in your case you need something better
Identify the stakeholders Who is affected? Who owns the system? Who will use it or access it?
Obtain a Project Sponsor / Champion Your Chief would be good.
Determine your requirements What features should it have? Will it replace an existing system or is it brand new?
Set a schedule, project plan, and budget When do you need it? How much can you spend? Don’t forget to anticipate recurring maintenance costs
Make vs. Buy or Buy vs. Build Are you going to write this yourself or procure it? As complexity increases “buying” may be an attractive option or if grant funding opportunities exist
RFP, Request for Proposal, or procure it non-RFP RFP is considered a formal structured process; non-RFP is informal and likely quicker. Sometimes a dollar amount threshold may require an RFP
Vendors Contacts Assuming it is not “in-house” written.  Internet and other Agency contacts are good resources to inquiry and interrogate
Vendor demos Set up at least 2 or 3 vendor demos to make an informed decision, learn about products, and compare features
Reconvene with staff and the Project Sponsor to make a decision Input is valuable from affected stakeholders. You can use a checklist, selection matrix, or ranking process based on the features, price, and other intangibles. Note, you may need to contact a new set of Vendors if the initial set do not meet your criteria
Notify the Vendor, negotiate, and sign a contract Make sure you are comfortable and the vendor is responsive. And, be sure to consider levels of support and software assurance; i.e. costs to upgrade
Software delivery / implementation Assumes the technical infrastructure is in place. Beware, this can be stressful time. Also, some system may integrate into your CAD, personnel, or payroll system so these interfaces increase the complexity
User Training This can be done prior to or concurrent with implementation. Make sure the vendor provides documentation
System testing, verification, and acceptance Make sure it works. This is usually when the vendor gets paid
Go Live Transition to the new system or turn off the existing system. There are several methods for switch-over, some are less disruptive or “risky” then others
Monitor and Adjust Testing may not catch all the issues; this will be “real” data
   




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SOFTWARE DEPLOYMENT/INFRASTRUCTURE


If you elect to procure a scheduling software or system make yourself knowledgeable of the following terms and the involvement of your IT staff (if you have IT staff)

Infrastructure Description IT involvement
“On site”, “On Premises”, “Your server” This means the software is loaded on a server(s) on your physical premises or under your control. HIGH
“Hosted” The software is located on external servers. You likely own a license or pay per user. Being off-site may actually provide added benefits should a disaster occur in your area. Somewhat
SAAS or “Software As A Service” Derivative of hosted, you are likely renting the software as you use it on a monthly or yearly basis. LOW

These options and configurations provide alternatives based on price, skills, access to resources, and appetite for risk and security.

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RECOMMENDED SOFTWARE FEATURES


For a police scheduling software or system your needs assessment and requirements gathering will identify your Agncy's specific needs.  The features listed below may be options that you may want to consider when selecting and evaluating your system.


ON DUTY SCHEDULING FEATURE
  Web based Personnel System Integration
  24/7/365 Payroll System Integration
  Time & Attendance Auditing/Logging
  Self Managenment (User) Secure (https)
  User Administration (Admin) Database Driven
  Approval Process Reporting
  Email/SMS Notifications Data Exports/Imports
  Calendars Configurable
  Clock In/Out Customizable
  Shift Based Leave Tracking
  Bidding Work Rule Integration
     
OFF DUTY AND EVENT SCHEDULING Consider features above, plus:  
  Multi-Agency Assignment Transfers
  Invoicing Seniority Tracking
  Client Tracking Mobile Version
  Venue Tracking Rostering
  Access Controlled Mutlimedia enabled content
  Job Boards Officer attributes
  Event Posting  
     
     
     





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Scheduling Process



SPONSOR INFORMATION


Good luck on your software procurement. Hopefully, this site has been informative, educational, and provided you information to assist you in your police scheduling system search. Additionally, be sure to check vendor references and perform your due diligence.

Keep in mind, a new system represents change. There may be some staff that fear change or resist change, but if you include them early in the process they may adopt the change easier and you can reduce their anxieties. In some cases, staff have been doing things the same way for several years and a new system is quite impactful to their day-to-day activities; therefore, exert caution and help them to see the benefits that more efficient processes will bring.


This site has been provided courtesy of:
Game Day Staffing

[View Our Software Product Offering]

Interested in special event or off duty police scheduling software?
visit us at: Off Duty System – www.OffDutySystem.com
 
Contact us at:
sales@gamedaystaffing.com

Professional Services
If you have questions or if you desire a consultation, or need an opinion regarding a procurement, or would like a third party review please feel free to email us.


Special Events and Off Duty System
If you need a system to track and manage off duty work and / or Special Events please consider us during the vendor selection phase.  We hope that our software meets your needs, is within your budget, and provides you a high quality software alternative with value. Our software’s specialty emphasis is on Sports venue scheduling, whether it is multi-Agency, professional, Collegiate, or high school sports, and other Community events.





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