Evidence – the meaning behind this seemingly ordinary word isn’t as simple as it sounds. In fact, this word could be the line between a conviction and acquittal in a courtroom, or of critical value while apprehending a powerful CEO. That is why this complex evidence management system needs to be handled efficiently — so that law enforcement continues uninhibited.
Here are the ten features that are must-haves for evidence-based management:
The basics always come down to who, what, when, where, and how, but in the age of technological revolution, these questions need a proper architecture for support, which comes in the form of all-in-one devices. Cloud computing is rapidly becoming an essential element, and products that run on it are more secure and scalable, not to mention cost effective. Software accessibility has become very convenient thanks to developers launching cloud versions of products on a number of devices that are also compatible with multiple platforms.
“Do more with less” – it has become a common phrase these days, especially when it comes to evidence or asset tracking software solutions. While system integrity and cost effectiveness are important, the days of company-wide, training programs before the implementation of new software are almost defunct. It is simple – get a trial version of the software and ask your employees for a random rollout through the system. Are they ready to do it willingly? If it is a no, then system integrity and cost savings are a foregone conclusion. Any software – even if it is merely an update, shouldn’t be too complicated; it needs to feel familiar, and contain traces of the older version, so employees feel at ease. If this particular evidence software is set to become a crucial aspect of your processes, it has to be user-friendly and straightforward, or you will face trouble in correcting errors that occur because of the complexities.
At one time, digital and physical evidence were parallel worlds, which never intersected and would be maintained via separate systems. But now courts have ordered that both types of evidence are to be equally prioritized regarding the chain of custody and integrity. The system is more organized due to an advanced digital evidence management system. Access databases for information found on electronic media or storing CDs and DVDs in cabinets are passé. It is necessary that a chain of custody displays the metadata – it isn’t optional. Presenting physical evidence via a resource and digital data from another could land you into trouble due to your evidence management practices will come under the scanner, while the actual evidence is considered suspect. Always opt for sophisticated solutions that support digital and physical evidence simultaneously and grant you an ironclad chain of custody.
Leaving devices and future compatibility aside, have you thought what might happen when the number of users suddenly go up? If your company grows steadily, what are ten users now could become twenty in a jiffy! You need to ensure there are no restrictions when it comes to users or items and prevent system crashes and loss of core business processes. The tracking solution needs to eradicate error potential so that you can be confident about the system. Try this test – multiply the number of users and items by ten, ask the software provider to apply those figures to the system, and wait for his response.
Software integration allows us to move on to different platforms and modes seamlessly without having to start from scratch. For example, you would never be able to manage a word processor that operates using a single program but fails to work with another. Integration is vital for tracking solutions – it is a worthwhile investment on your part to buy products from software developers who create products based on international standards. If you are concerned about saving costs, try to visualize the bigger picture. A software developer down the street could provide a decent product as per specifications, but it might fall short when tested outside your geographic radius. The tracking software you choose should be integrable with others on a global scale, even if you wish to operate locally for the time being. Moreover, it should be able to work with depreciation data, accounting information, audits, and other variables. Talk to the developer and ask to see the software created by them for clients and how it is successfully integrated.
Any sensitive data stored using the software should be highly secure. Irrespective of outdoor schematics – whether you are in the cloud or the system is located in a basement – the information is a highly valuable asset when it comes to your business processes. Unfortunately, cybercrimes are increasing at an alarming rate over the last two years with hackers finding ways to circumvent systems. It isn’t enough for the tracking software company to claim that they operate using military security protocols to protect the data. You need to know if they run routine background checks and drug tests and evaluate & analyze their security by hiring independent firms to test the procedures using various hacking methods. If they don’t follow at least one of the two, there military security protocols can’t keep your information secure. The tracking system should be able to function efficiently, generate desired results, and record changes being made. If someone makes a mistake while entering data, they should be able to correct it, but the system should record all revisions – this is done to emphasize overall integrity. Software that lets employees make changes as per their whim is practically useless.
Have you ever thought about the effects of future customizations on the current data? Moreover, what kind of data can be customized? With a fast-paced world around us, we don’t know if existing data collection fields are adequate. That is why tracking systems have to be end-user customizable and user role-based access controllable. An internal process should be included that defines how and when modifications or new data fields can be added. Ask the software vendor if it is possible to detect if fields have become irrelevant or users who have left can be deleted. If yes, then steer clear of them – system stability and integrity is called into question if gathered data is deleted. Deactivation is fine, but not deletion!
When we are talking about digital evidence management software, saving time isn’t a top priority, because it might not be on the list of tracing software specifications for a certain client. That is why it ranks at #8. However, if you wish to incorporate time saving features as well, it is a good precaution as it means you doing due diligence. Say goodbye to graph papers and ledger pads that were used to plot data and record it. Technology has provided the foundation for several types of software that reduce menial tasks and make your job a lot easier, which allows you to track larger volumes of data by using a smaller portion of resources than before. For those looking to save time, get a simple solution instead of multiple software applications. While the latter aids you in generating reports, but when the workload is massive, this type of solution can’t help you save time and maintain the same level of efficiency at once.
While pricing plays an important role, it isn’t the sole deciding factor when it comes to buying tracking software. If you are feeling apprehensive to enquire about the price, try asking how much it will cost you to continue with the lack of automation, customization, information and integrity of your current solution. The figures itself aren’t the only aspect to consider because affordability is relative, but compute the amount of losses over time, compare with the cost of the best solution, and select accordingly. Go over the pricing structure and method of software deployment with a toothcomb. Find out if it is easy to understand or there are special deals involved (beware of those as it is a clever disguise for hidden costs that boost the final bill). Reliable providers of top quality products use logical pricing models, so you don’t have to worry about it going over your head. The verdict is – if you can pay for the best, just buy it. Even if it costs you a tad extra right now, it could save both time and money in the long run.
Your in-house IT department or a freelance programmer will not inform you about “improvement”. But the fact is a true tracking solution needs to be upgraded continuously due to the ever-changing world of technology growing in leaps and bounds. If you don’t get the software up-to-date, it will be left behind in the race. Considering a particular provider? Ask him for a detailed list of improvements pertaining to the software in the last three years. Study the data to understand if it is impressive and worth your time – in case the answer is no, their tracking software isn’t your cup of tea. You might think this point comes into conflict with the “ease of use” section. But ongoing training is necessary, so users can cross hurdles without getting stuck. Moreover, they might not employ the best practices. The nature of what is being tracked, devices, and material used will continue to change – you need to be in sync by implementing the top industry practices.
DoubleHorn’s Evidence Management System (DEMS) is an end-to-end, fully secure and compliant solution for law enforcement authorities. DEMS features include collection & storage of physical and digital evidence, chain-of-command, managing convenience copies, collection and analysis of metadata, reporting etc., DEMS also offers cloud storage options that fit all the major security and compliance requirements like FedRAMP, CJIS, FISMA, HIPAA, FIPS, ITAR, FERPA etc., Some of the current customers of this solution include Dept. of Energy, National Park Service, Department of the Army, NIST, Dept. of the Navy, Dept. of Defense, Federal Trade Commission, City of Palo Alto, State of Nevada, Baltimore, Chicago, Alabama, City of Miami, and more. Click here for Complimentary Consultation for a DoubleHorn Evidence Management System. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org (or) 855-61-VOICE (86423).