Evidence Management System Decision Guide: 10 Essential Factors to Consider
March 19, 2019
If you are thinking about improving your evidence management process, congratulations! In this post, we have outlined 10 essential factors to consider when comparing evidence management software alternatives. After learning these 10 essential factors, be sure to access your free evidence management comparison worksheet to further aid your evaluation.
In today’s environment, you should not even consider a product that does not already have the architecture to run on today’s devices. If you can’t pull up the software on a phone or tablet, the software you are looking at is already obsolete. Our evidence management software SAFE is browser-based, so users can work from anywhere on any internet-connected device.
Ease Of Use
When looking for an evidence tracking software solution, system integrity and cost saving are priorities. Needless to say, we are all being challenged to do more with less nowadays. Gone are the drawn out, company-wide, training programs prior to new software solution rollouts. Request a demo copy of the software you’re considering, and ask a random sampling of your employees to navigate through the system. If they can’t readily do that you have already lost the system integrity and cost savings. People will not use it if it’s not in a comfortable, familiar format. Remember, this evidence tracking software will become an integral part of all your processes. If it’s not easy, you’re going to see errors and thus system integrity loss such that it would have been better not to initiate it in the first place.
Scalability: Users and Items
Today, you may have only ten users, but with company growth, that number could become twenty. Make sure there are no limitations with regard to users or items and save yourself from system crashes and loss of core operational processes. Choose an evidence management software that eliminates error potential, and ensures confidence in the system. Multiply the current number of users you have by ten. Then, multiply the current number of items by ten. Now, ask your software provider to apply those numbers to his system and see what his response is.
Software integration is essential to your evidence tracking solution. One can always go to the software supplier down the street, who may be able to build something to the exact specifications you wrote down on the napkin during lunch, but you must consider whether your new software will play well with others. What about international standards? Simply put, ask your software solution experts for examples of how their clients are successfully integrating with other software to leverage the data they are capturing.
Whether you are in the cloud or your software is run in a dark basement, by two armed guards, on a single machine in the center of your complex, your data is core to your operational processes and one of your most valuable assets. Recently, we have seen a sharp spike in the number of cyber thefts of data. Each of your evidence tracking software companies will say things like, ”We provide military security protocols for all the data stored with us.” When they do, ask how often they do you background checks and drug tests on all their employees. Ask them how often they hire outside security firms to test their security via professional hacking methods. Be warned that if they don’t at least do those two things, their military security protocols will not keep your data safe.
None of us would hire an employee that lied during their interview, would we? The basic reason you are looking for an evidence tracking system is for the ability to track things and feel comfortable the system will produce qualified results. If users can make changes to the system without each of those changes being recorded and stored, your tracking system cannot show the whole truth. Clumsy-fingered data inputs and other mistakes happen, and there should be a way to correct them, but everyone needs to understand that even those corrections are being recorded. This feature solidifies the overall integrity of your system. The number one culprit of evidence theft is not climbing over the fence, but driving through the front gate and parking in the employee parking lot. In evidence tracking, software that allows an employee to make unrecorded changes will eventually end up on the evening news. You would not hire a liar and you should not buy an evidence tracking solution that does not have integrity.
What can be customized? Who can do the customizing? Will future customization have any ill effect on my existing data? These are very important questions for your evidence management system. First, in today’s changing world, you can not be sure the existing data collection fields are all you will ever need. Evidence tracking solutions should be end-user customizable, and user role-based access controllable, with an internal process dictating how and when changes or new data field additions are implemented. Tracker Products developed the first, and still the only, product that features unlimited, end-user data field creation and modification – customization-on-the-fly. Secondly, ask your software vendor whether fields that have become irrelevant or users who have left can be deleted. If they say yes, you need to find another vendor. System stability and integrity can easily be compromised if captured data is ever deleted! SAFE will allow deactivation of fields/users but never deletion.
Not everyone looking for evidence tracking software is concerned about saving time and that is why we are putting it toward the bottom of the list. If you are still reading you are truly doing your due diligence and should be commended. Gone are the graph papers and ledger pads where people used to record data. Here to stay is job-simplifying software that enables you to track an ever-increasing amount of data with ever decreasing resources. Simple solutions like SAFE are often the best solution. Lots of software applications enable one to generate reports but in the context of the daily heavy workflow, will your solution also help you save time and be more efficient?
You’ve heard, “if you have to ask how much, you can’t afford it”. But ask how much it’s costing you to continue on with the lack of automation, customization, information, and integrity of your current evidence management system. Affordability is relative, of course, but compare the amount of loss over time, with the cost of the best solution, and make the obvious choice. Examine the pricing structure and method of software deployment. Is it simple and easy to understand? Is a ‘special deal’ being offered? Very often, ‘special deals’ end up costing so much more! Quality products and providers employ logical pricing models that their sales reps do not manipulate as used car salesmen do. If a sales rep can cut the price in half, what else is being cut? Optional extras? Service and support? If you can afford the best, you should buy the best. Tracker Products SAFE is not the cheapest, but it’s among the top tracking solutions available and in the long term, SAFE will save time and money.
You will not get this from your internal IT department or a moonlighting programmer. A true evidence management solution should be improved continually. Technology keeps doubling and your evidence tracking solution should keep up. Ask your prospective provider for a list of improvements in the software over the past three years. If the list is not impressive, it’s probably safe to question their tracking software too. But if a key component of top evidence tracking software is ease of use, why the ongoing training? Simple. Users get stuck in ruts and don’t always employ best practices. Getting together with other professionals and talking specifically about tracking your stuff will provide you with renewed vigor and excitement for implementing industry best practices. The nature of what you’re tracking, the devices, and the material used will continue to change. You need to stay aware or beware!
We hope you picked up some tips to aid in your search for the best evidence management system for your needs. Feel free to contact us with any questions about SAFE, and don’t forget to take advantage of our free evidence management comparison worksheet.