35 Questions to Ask When Purchasing Police Field Training Software

Find out how FTO software can change the field training game for your agency – and ask these 35 questions before you buy to get the best fit solution.

April 17, 2023

Article highlights: 

Field training is a key phase in every law enforcement officer’s career. They learned all they could in the classroom and passed the necessary certifications – now it’s time to learn what it’s like to do the job in real time. 

As a fundamental element of the training process, officer field training must be managed with excellence. But that can be a challenge. There are more policies, training requirements, and procedures today than at any point in history. This makes it complicated to properly track and measure training – especially if an agency is using paper, binders, and hard copy manuals. 

In this article, we’ll highlight what police field training software is and how it can make your field training documentation simpler, more accurate, and better for the success of your agency overall. Then, we’ll share 35 questions to ask when you’re getting ready to purchase FTO software to ensure you make the right choice for your agency.

Investing in the wrong FTO software could be just as bad as having no software.

What is police field training software? 

FTO software helps agencies make sure their new officers are properly trained and prepared for a career in law enforcement. 

The content of the field training program is determined by the FTO program model the agency has selected. The management, documentation, and measurement of the program is where police FTO software comes in. The technology includes forms, workflows, reports, alerts, and several other advanced features to help keep trainees on track and improve the agency’s FTO process.

Why is police FTO software important? 

Without software, training documentation takes longer and is more prone to errors and recency bias. Field training in law enforcement is the stage of an officer’s career when they’re learning what it’s really like to be a police officer. The focus should be on development, mentorship, and hands-on learning. 

But manual documentation can get in the way – eating time out of their schedule with paperwork and robbing them of new opportunities to learn. Using FTO software brings the focus back to helping new officers prepare for a long, safe, and successful career in law enforcement.

Things to consider when evaluating police FTO software

Your agency is ready to take your field training to the next level and implement software to manage your program. But with so many options in the market, how do you know which one is right for you? 

Start with these simple steps:

  • Make a list of your “must haves” and “nice to haves.” No solution is perfect, but it’s important to know what features you can’t compromise on before you start talking to vendors. 
  • Think about the most pressing problems you hope to solve today – and what you want your program to look like in the future. This will help you evaluate if the software you’re considering can grow with you and accomplish your goals in the future.
  • Make a list of questions about how the FTO software will work and how it will benefit your agency. Doing this ahead of time will help you objectively evaluate which police field training software solution is the best fit for your unique needs. 
    • Note: We included some great questions below, but don’t forget to ask your Training Coordinator or Manager and long-time FTOs what they need in FTO software.

Next, check out our comprehensive list of questions you can ask when evaluating FTO software.

Using FTO software brings the focus back to helping new officers prepare for a long, safe, and successful career in law enforcement.

35 questions to ask before buying police field training software 

These questions will help you identify the pros and cons of each police FTO software solution you’re considering. It’s important to make sure you know about: 

  • The vendor’s experience and history
  • The features and capabilities of the software
  • How easy or difficult the solution will be to implement, use, and get ongoing support 

Don’t forget to also ask the vendor for customer references who successfully implemented and used the solution. (See the last set of questions for ideas on what to ask current customers.) This is a great way to learn if their software performs as advertised and can truly stand the test of time.

Vendor-specific information

  • How many agencies are using your software?
  • Can you provide a customer reference near me, of similar size, that I can speak with?
  • Does your police field training software integrate with any other solutions that you sell?

Basic functionality

  • Is your software cloud-based?
  • Does your software support the field training model we use? (e.g. San Jose, Reno, Kellams, etc.)
  • Can we use this software to manage promotional training?
  • Do you integrate with any policy management software solutions?
  • Can we configure forms, program phases, skills, and rating scales?
  • What does your FTO software provide that others don’t?
  • What are your storage limits and maximum file sizes we can upload?

Reporting and analytics

  • What standard reports do you provide?
  • Do you provide any custom reports?
  • Do you provide any dashboards?
  • What information is available in the reports and dashboards provided?

Integration capabilities

  • Do you support CAD integration? Ask if they have worked with your specific CAD system before. If not, ask questions to clarify what that process looks like.
  • How long does it take to set up CAD integration?
  • Are there additional fees when integrating with our CAD?
  • What specific information comes from our CAD into your FTO software?

Implementation process

  • Can you provide an overview of the implementation process and key milestones?
  • Who within our agency will need to be included in the implementation process?
  • What roles and responsibilities will each of our personnel play in the process?
  • How long will the process take?
  • Is there anything we can prepare ahead of time to ensure a smooth implementation?
  • Is there an additional fee for implementation?

Vendor’s ongoing support for their FTO software

  • Is there an additional fee for ongoing support?
  • Do you provide on-demand training resources (articles, videos, webinars, etc.)?
  • Can we contact support via email, phone, and chat? 
  • What days and hours is support available?
  • If we have an issue in the software, what is your service level agreement (SLA)?

Questions for current customers (i.e. reference agencies)

  • How long have you been using the software?
  • What was the implementation process like?
  • Have you been happy with the training and support provided?
  • What do you like most about the software?
  • Have you had any issues with the software? If so, how were these issues resolved?
  • What do you wish you had known before you purchased FTO software?

Finding the right police field training software for your agency

When you’re ready purchase field training software, it’s important to find the solution that best fits your agency. Investing in the wrong FTO software could be just as bad as having no software. If you’re not sure what to look for in a field training solution, check out the 5 Must-Have Features of FTO Online Solutions

As you set up your conversations with vendors, be sure to connect with our team of experts at PowerDMS by NEOGOV to see if our police field training software, PowerReady, could be the perfect fit for your agency.

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