Evidence Management – Implementation and Support
June 29, 2022
A key component in the TEMS stack of evidence management solutions is implementation and support. But, before we dive into this specific topic, let’s first discuss the TEMS concept.
TEMS stands for Total Evidence Management Solutions. TEMS isn’t one thing it’s many things – a stack of diverse solutions, some free, some have a fee – that can help your agency with every aspect of your operations. As you know, Tracker Products is an evidence management software provider. Our partner company, the Evidence Management Institute (EMI), is responsible for evidence management training, consultations, audits, and inventory services.
Our combined “keep-the-lights-on” offerings address the core needs of nearly evidence management unit nationwide, but we didn’t want to stop there. Yes, you need state-of-the-art evidence management software. And you need to know how to run an efficient, effective, and sustainable evidence management unit. But, what about what you want, over and above the basics?
You may be thinking, How could you possibly know what I want?
That’s a great question, and we have a great answer… Because we’ve been listening to evidence custodians on the Facebook Evidence Management Community Forum, for over two years.
We started the forum at the beginning of the pandemic, as a way to connect the already-isolated evidence management community with like-minded people. Honestly, we didn’t know if it would attract anyone’s attention. The Tracker and EMI teams were the first ones to join. Then we saw a few new members. Then 10, then 25, then 50.
We thought we peaked at a hundred. But, over the last two years, the Evidence Management Community Forum has exploded. At the time of this writing there were 838 members, and still climbing. At this rate, we predict the forum will have over 1000 members by the end of the year.
In addition to being a powerful resource for the evidence management community, the conversations created a paradigm shift for Tracker and EMI. In the past, we thought we were serving the community by offering the best products and services in the industry. In this case, we had identified the needs of the evidence management world. They needed state-of-the-art evidence management software (Tracker), and a qualified evidence management consulting and training firm (EMI).
Ben Townsend, the founder and CEO of Tracker, has spent thousands of hours working with state and federal clients – and an unfathomable amount of time evaluating evidence rooms – to identify the unique needs of the evidence management community. And, several team members were evidence custodians before they joined Tracker.
As for EMI, Shawn Henderson served 18 years as a police officer. For 11 of those years he was a sergeant, and five of those years he spent as the supervisor over the department’s evidence management and crime scene investigation units. As an officer and supervisor, he developed a curriculum, policies, and procedures; plus, he provided training across multiple disciplines throughout his career.
His “partner in crime,” James Nally has been with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for nearly 30 years. (March 1993). Before his employment with the Sheriff’s Department, James proudly served as a Law Enforcement Security Policeman in the United States Air Force.
After the military, James started his career with OC Sheriff’s and worked several assignments including correctional and county facilities and field operations providing law enforcement services. For the past 20 years, James has been assigned to the OC’sSheriff’s Property & Evidence Unit.
So yeah… we’d seen it all. Or, had we?
And we were doing our best. Or, were we?
After listening to the members of the Evidence Management Community Forum, beginning in the summer of 2020, we realized we could be doing a LOT more. Yes, Trackers Evidence Management Software will help transform departments that still use a paper and pen or an RMS system (audible gasp!). And, EMI’s consultations, audits, and inventory services are mind-blowingly revolutionary.
But, some most departments lack the resources to acquire them… unless they do their homework first.
We’re convinced that if you commit to using all of these free resources – watch the recorded webinars, attend the free online and in-person evidence management training classes, take the E-Health Check (and more) – you can ultimately get the resources you need to hire EMI to provide a roadmap for immediate and dramatic improvement within your unit, and to invest in Tracker’s SAFE Software.
That brings us (finally) to the subject at hand: Implementation and Support.
Buying evidence management software and just throwing it in place is not going to fix your problems. Software is one component of a larger process. Once an agency has chosen a new system, it’s important to have an implementation and support team that will provide ongoing expert training and support. This ensures that everyone within the organization is up to speed on how to use the evidence management system and can take full advantage of its capabilities.
Before we talk about what our implementation and support team does, let’s talk about who they are.
Rob D’Costa has been an Implementation Specialist for Tracker Products since September 2015. He has nearly 25 years of Project Management experience, which he has used to help onboard clients, create white papers for Tracker’s WikiGuide, draft project templates for the Support Department, and SOWs for the sales team.
Rob has attended both IAPE and EMI. Additionally, he hosts free SAFE training webinars every 2 months. He has worked with hundreds of clients (about 85% of all Tracker Clients) to get them implemented in SAFE. Rob goes the extra mile for all Tracker clients, helping them use SAFE to the fullest possible extent.
During implementation, Rob will add required custom fields – based on individual client feedback – to help identify resource needs acquired through answers to specific questions, like, “Was a K9 Unit needed for this case?” Reviewing the tabulated data results, the evidence management unit can then make the business case for additional funding because they can prove the need exists.
Carrie Vaughn has been an Implementation Specialist for Tracker Products since 2016. Carrie is an expert in data imports and customizing the SAFE software to meet client-specific needs. Using her excellent customer service, project management, and organizational skills, Carrie delivers a seamless integration experience from start to finish. Knowing that major changes can be stressful, Carrie is devoted to making the implementation process relaxed, easy, and fun.
She realizes that transitioning to a new evidence management system is a complex process that involves a multitude of users in markedly different positions. As such, Carrie uses her background as an education consultant, event coordinator, and office manager to bring together various personalities and diverse skill-sets to unite them toward a common goal. She then educates the team and makes sure that everyone can use Tracker’s SAFE evidence management system to its fullest capability.
But, she doesn’t stop there. Carrie wants to exceed client expectations by identifying unrealized opportunities for growth and improvement. She believes it’s critical for evidence management personnel to leverage the data Tracker’s SAFE software gathers through customized fields to create personalized reports that will increase their Police Department’s awareness, support, and resources.
Beth Bennett has been a Tracker Products Implementation Specialist since October 2018. Previously she ran a property & evidence room for 13 years. While there, Beth used Fluid – Tracker’s previous software – for 10 of the 13 years she was with the agency. Beth has attended IAPE and EMI, and she has attended various other Property & Evidence training classes during her tenure. Having been on both sides of the fence – client & vendor – Beth has worked with numerous agencies in both capacities.
Beth’s current area of expertise is Support & Implementation. She is able to take client data & populate their evidence management software in a way that optimizes their experience with SAFE. Her perspective as a property manager & SAFE specialist helps her to add information to a client’s database in a way that is intuitive for users and provides them with a wealth of information – which they can then use to obtain additional resources.
As a support specialist, Beth is constantly going the extra mile to help clients use Tracker’s SAFE software to the fullest degree. But she doesn’t stop there. If she hears of other property management issues during conversations with clients, Beth will use her background to provide unique solutions & verified resources to help clients in any way she can.
So, what is it EXACTLY that the implementation and support team does? And why is it considered to be a part of the TEMS stack?
The answer to the second question is shorter, so let’s start there.
As we mentioned previously TEMS stands for Total Evidence Management Solution. You may notice that the last word in that sentence – Solution – is singular not plural. The reason is, we are one company that is made up of many moving parts. One source for multiple solutions.
Let’s talk about the reason that our implementation and support team is key to Tracker’s success. Without them, it would be like giving a Mercedes to a person who can’t drive, winter coats to the children of Hawaii, or a free trip around the world to an agoraphobic.
If the recipient is never going to use the product, why get it in the first place?
As we said before, major changes can be stressful. Especially if you’re going it alone. Yes, our software is relatively intuitive. But, even if you’re technically savvy, and can figure out the basic features of the SAFE software system, you won’t be able to use it to its full capacity without the help of the implementation and support team.
So let’s address that first question, What is it EXACTLY that the implementation and support team does?
During Implementation, initially, they help you to understand…
- Logging In – Where Users can reset their own password
- Dashboard – Explain Widgets and how they can help the Org. Admin
- Creating Cases/Persons/Items – Explain the most efficient way to do this (Duplicating vs. Splitting)
- Searching – How to Search on Cases/Persons/Items
- Widgets – How to create Widgets from Saved Searches
- Combining Case and Item Searches then creating a Widget
- Scanning – How to Scan, Move, Create and Add Items to Containers
- How to create and assign Tasks to Users
- System Customization – Explain how and why to customize the Settings section in SAFE
- Permission Groups and User Admin setup
- General Tools – Sessions, License Allocations
- Tags – What are they? How to set up for Individuals and the organization
- Workflows and Alerts (Sex Assault Kits)
- Reports and Reporting – Explaining the Report Builder
- SAFE Mobile App
During deeper dives, they may also cover…
- SAFE – Account usage, Contains option, Merging Persons, grid view customization, Tabs (meaning of numbers), What are Tags and why should I use them, Storage Locations only show what a User has access to, and the meaning of SAFE
- Customization – Disabling standard fields, Translation file, changing standard drop downs, Custom Data (Forms) vehicle example, Can I really collect too much data?, Question: Setup for Make, Model and SN, grid customization, reporting, and questions
- Containers – How to create and effectively use Containers in SAFE.
- Mobile App – How to use the SAFE Mobile App.
- Auto Disposition – What is Auto Disposition, how can it help me, and how can I set it up in SAFE?
- Custom Data (Forms) – How to create Custom Fields, and attach and use them.
- Creating Custom Reports – How to create Custom Reports in SAFE.
- User Settings and Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) – How to configure User Settings and set up MFA using Google Authenticator in SAFE.
- Admin Level Widget Creation on the Dashboard – How to create Saved Searches and put them into a Widget that resides on the Dashboard.
- Storage Locations – How to set up, apply Permissions to, and Move if needed
- Discrepancy Reports and Random Audits – What are Discrepancy Reports, when and why should you use them, and how can you run them?
- SAFE – New Features – Expungement, multiple Case Officers in a Case, Tasking, manipulating Notes, Scan Page functionality,
Tagging and Permission Groups, new look on the Settings page, and sharing Media.
- Advanced Searching – How to Save and combine Searches, create Widgets from those Searches, and share them.
All of this may sound overwhelming to you. And honestly, it probably would be… if you’re going it alone. But, you’re not. And there’s no due date or expiration date with our implementation and support team.
Just like you can’t learn to drive a car in a single session, it takes a bit of time to learn a new system. And, once you start feeling comfortable navigating it, things will probably change.
If we haven’t pummeled the driving metaphor to death… Let’s say you’ve been driving for a few years. Everything is going great, and now that you’re more successful you want a new car; one with all the bells and whistles. You sign the papers, the dealership hands you the keys, and you’re ready to drive it off the lot.
You get in, only to discover that it’s not a mechanical key, it’s a smart key. You push a button. It doesn’t start the car, it opens the trunk. You close the trunk, get back in the car, and touch a button near the steering wheel. The windshield wipers come on. You push a button near the cup holder, and the stereo is blasting Marilyn Manson.
You still know how to drive. But, not how to drive that car. So who’s at fault? The dealership. They took your money and didn’t care that you didn’t know how to operate a modern system.
However, it is not in Tracker’s business culture to hand you the keys and walk away.
Tracker is constantly upgrading the SAFE software. Our DevOps team is committed to making sure we have a steady stream of new features that will benefit you. But why spend all of that time and money developing upgrades, if no one knows about them? Or what if we only send out an EBlast announcing the new features, without taking the time to explain how and why you should use them?
Tracker’s implementation and support team has a single mission: To make sure you understand and can use the SAFE technology to its fullest capability, year after year. The support team knows when updates (patches) are needed, when new features are added, and how your existing data or reports may be affected.
Then, they will schedule a time to walk you through the changes. Think of the implementation and support department as a team of professors, who also teach summer school, work on holidays, and scoff at the idea of spring breaks. No question is too small, and no problem is too big for them to handle.
So, would our TEMS stack be complete without them? No. We might even go so far as to say, we wouldn’t exist without them.
Ben Townsend, the founder and CEO of Tracker Products since 2001, has said, “The implementation and support team is the key to having a successful long-term relationship with our clients. We don’t want our clients to just be satisfied with our support team, or even happy, we want them to be ecstatic!”
And apparently, clients are…
“My department has been using Tracker since 2009. There is nothing that compares to the program’s ease of operation. The support your agency will receive from them is unmatchable. They are like an extended family that you can count on.” – Tom Icenogle
“Tracker is the best vendor I have ever dealt with in 22 years of law enforcement and their software was the best I tested and evaluated. The customer service is beyond anything I have ever experienced. Seriously top-notch all the way around. The officers also love the cloud-based software so they can log evidence in their cruiser while in the field.” – Mike Gross
“I have worked on multiple systems throughout my LE career and Tracker is by far the best, most intuitive system. Easy to use, all the bells and whistles. You don’t realize how badly you needed them all along. The people are great there. Super patient. And you can modify darn near everything. I cannot recommend them enough.” – Sabrina Jankovsky Weightman