Why Tech Adoption is Vital for Legal Defensibility

Change is difficult, and learning new technology takes time and effort. When your team is already stressed and understaffed, learning a new system—and the new process that goes along with it—can feel like the last straw.

Yet, public safety leaders are often painfully aware that a new technology system is the only way to relieve the burdens of your staff in the long run. Moreover, specific technology systems and capabilities are increasingly required for compliance, and avoiding implementation can lead to legal headaches later on.

However, purchasing a compliant system does not guarantee that your staff is using it—or using it properly. Not fully using the tools at your agency’s disposal, including your newly purchased platform, can ultimately undo your efforts to support and protect your organization.

The challenges of a top-down tech buying process

For successful tech adoption, you need buy-in from the people that will use the software daily. This means involving them in early conversations, helping them understand the importance of using the technology and what could happen if they don’t use it.

Unfortunately, the typical decision-making process often makes it challenging to ensure user-level buy-in.

Consider the way public safety organizations purchase most major software:

  • When salespeople demonstrate features, they show them to high-level decision-makers: supervisors, IT leaders, municipal officials, etc.
  • When those decision-makers craft policy to align with the new tools, they do it from the perspective of a “standardized reality”: How it should work if all things are working perfectly at ground level.
  • The policy and any additional instruction tend to be filtered through ground-level supervisors before arriving at the desks of the people using the tools.

A lot of detail can be lost in translation, resulting in operational shortcuts that can masquerade as a perfectly working set of standard operating procedures until they come under legal scrutiny.

How ignoring capabilities can result in legal liability

If your organization is defending itself in court, the tools your employees aren’t using become liabilities.

For example, if documents are uncovered suggesting superiors noted an unsatisfactory performance in an employee, then the fact that you recently purchased a new HR system containing an active-intervention component can become an unexpected weak point in your defense.

In this hypothetical example, the court might conclude that your organization had the tools to address the employee’s shortcomings before an incident but chose not to.

Conclusion: Improve your processes concerning your records and tools

Not fully utilizing tools at your organization’s disposal may result in added legal liability or general trouble in the courtroom.

And while the exact problems can manifest in numerous ways, the solutions remain the same:

  • Focus on increasing viable documentation and transparency.
  • Create a culture of accountability and legal defensibility that requires the tools your agency uses to align with its mission, goals, and day-to-day operational needs.
  • Make an actionable plan that addresses user buy-in, continuous training, and periodic check-ins to ensure users are using it to their full potential.

Instead of letting gaps in the execution of your vision create potential legal trouble, make sure you’re using all your tools to the full extent.

Looking for direction when it comes to selecting training and compliance software?

Posted on Dec 9, 2021