In a field like public safety, so-called “point solutions” can be appealing. Designed to tackle highly specific problems, these specialized software tools promise to simplify any process an IT manager might envision: point solutions to handle your logins, merge your databases, fill specific gaps in training or meet niche educational needs . . . and so on.
To be sure, there are plenty of point solutions out there that might bridge a specific gap in the public safety world. But meeting short-term needs with hodgepodge solutions can be like slapping Band-Aids onto problems that require more serious attention. As growing reliance on these tools begins to limit the agency in its quest to move forward digitally, their downsides can really begin to show.
Agencies chasing point solutions may ultimately find better value in a wider approach (a solution designed with multiple use cases, outcomes, and functions) for several major reasons.
Reason 1: Increased Complexity
A point solution can usually solve one problem or a narrow set of needs. A collection of point solutions, meanwhile, becomes an unwieldy patchwork of programs to manage, with different technical requirements and quirks that reflect the IT teams who implemented them. This lack of connectivity can block the implementation of new solutions—a single sign-on platform, for example, might not work with a new scheduling tool—or simply create unnecessary work for personnel, forcing them to jump between systems, learn different interfaces, and perhaps re-enter data to do basic tasks.
If your collection of point solutions has grown unwieldy or your processes are too dependent on an amalgamation of services, it’s time to make a switch.
Reason 2: Increased Costs
Another compounding problem arises when you consider the “affordable” monthly fees of point solutions. As those costs pile up with every addition, it is almost always more economical for a company to pay for a single, multi-function solution than multiple solutions for individual jobs. This may not seem like a problem for agencies using small numbers of point solutions, but the total cost can surprise you when you check the monthly expenditures column.
Reason 3: Support Challenges
Who do you call when your internet goes out: Your IT team? ISP? What about when your standalone learning management system (LMS) fails to support a certain filetype? Whose responsibility is it?
Customers have seen how frustrating it can be to trace even “simple” concerns when multiple vendors come into play. Consolidating point solutions and going with fewer third parties will always be preferable in this regard.
By the same token, making sure every point solution stays compliant with the exacting standards required by your agency can be a real challenge. A single point of access with a single set of security and compliance rules is far safer than multiple gates in one fence.
Instead, consider the relative strengths of a single platform here. Alongside current needs, your agency can breathe easier knowing it will:
Expand its capabilities (existing modules)
Loop in new agencies/departments (cloud infrastructure)
Grow without extra licensing requirements for individual point solutions
A single platform also gives a single source of overview and insight. Where a point solution might not collect data on anything outside its limited purview (assuming the reporting options are there), a more comprehensive solution such as the Acadis® Readiness Suite is designed to provide the whole picture, with out-of-the-box reporting capability for a wide range of data.
Point solutions can create more problems than they prevent. Especially in the demanding field of public safety—where clear communication and access to data can make or break a mission—it’s easy to see why industry-built comprehensive solutions are better than point solutions.