Waterloo Regional Police Service: The Common Information Management Systems Project

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The Common Information Management Systems (CIMS) project reached a turning point, when ITG, the vendor of the system, and Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS), one of the partners in the project, could not reach a consensus on several functional aspects. After a thorough review of the problem and the potential alternatives, it was recommended to continue with a contract with ITG, with a revision to the management processes and the issues in dispute.

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Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) is one of the investing partners in Common Information Management Systems (CIMS), a project of an information system, currently in its fourth year of development. The CIMS was intended to be as an extension of the WRPS previous information system, which aims will be directed to increase the efficiency of the WMPS operations, full integration of services, and solve the main problem of the police department, i.e. the lack of information sharing. Currently, the project came to a halt over disputes between the vendor of the project, Integrated Technologies Group (ITG), and the project partners, among which is the WRPS, led by Chief Larry Gravel.

The following factors were identified as contributing to the CIMS project disputes:

Poor Project Management

Under this factor several points can be made, which include the following:

  • Making assumptions, where the Canadianization argument was based on that the company previously worked on the PRIDE project, and thus, it was assumed that the requirements will be similar.
  • Poor deadline estimation, where several statistics should have been considered, such as the fact that “only 9%-16% of IT projects are completed on time and budget” {MONOCHRISTOU, 2005
  • Poor correspondence of schedule milestones and payment, e.g. by the time fifty percent of payment is made only functional design specifications (FDS) for only two components are approved.
  • Poor communication without established conventions of terminology.

The Request for Proposal Process

This factor implies forming the initial requirements for the project. The following points regarding such factors can be made:

  • Strict integration requirement, which failed to attract any bids.
  • Failing to revise the requirements at two critical points, i.e. the point when only one proposal was received, when other members left the project.
  • Long RFP period.

The Vendor’ Commitment

The vendor’s responsibility cannot be underestimated in the context of this project, in which the major mistakes can be seen in the following:

  • Terms not mentioned in the specification were implemented without communication.
  • Choosing a life-cycle model is not suitable for this project, where models such as spiral, or prototyping cycles should have been preferred over the waterfall model, due to repeating several stages of the development as well as the involvement of the customer.

Criteria

In choosing the next step, WRPS should establish several criteria which will guide the process of selection of alternatives as well as the actions to take. In that regard, the following criteria were identified:

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Time and Resources Constraints

The selected action should correspond to the partners’ time availability as well as their resources, either financial or human. It should be noted that in light of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) leaving the project, there are possibilities of other partners leaving as well. In financial terms not only future expenditures should be considered, but also the money already invested as well.

The Reliance of the Partners on the Expected Functionality

The selected action should consider the partners’ objectives in the short and long terms as well their reliance on the CIMS expected functionality. Taking CIMS out of the question, the criteria can be rephrased as a question of the degree to which WRPS and other partners are dependable on these functions in the short and long term.

The Risk Factor

Each of the potential action plans would have a set of risk factors that can be measured and accordingly prioritized. The set of risk factors might include the following:

  • Technology changes, i.e. being outdated before implementation.
  • Dissolution of partnership.
  • The current system becoming inoperable.
  • Funding problems.
  • Changes in the internal or external environment.

Communication

Such criterion is associated with the ability of the project team and the development team to reach a mutual ground to reach a solution that satisfies all parties. In that regard, the communication criterion can be referred to as the ability to reach a consensus between all parties in the selected alternative plan.

Governance

Governance as a criterion is strictly attached to the word effective, referring to project management. Such criterion implies the ability of the team to represent the needs of the partners in terms of established goals, flexibility, quality, etc.

Alternatives

According to the problems identified earlier, and the available set of criteria, it was possible to identify the following options:

  • Continue with the project with revised project processes.
  • Drop the ITG contract and partner with a new vendor on new terms.

The First Option: Continue with the Project with Revised Project Processes

Such an option implies going on with the ITG partnership, coming up with a new methodology to deal with the existent problem.

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The Advantages:

  • The framework is already established.
  • Most of the objectives and the requirements are agreed upon.
  • Established partnership with other police services.
  • Several milestones were reached already.
  • Less time to finish the project than to start over.
  • The financial aspects are settled, with parts of payments already paid.

The Disadvantages:

  • Existing disagreements.
  • The risk of delays and missing the schedule.
  • Possible loss of some of the system’s functionality.
  • The project’s budget exceeding the initial costs.

The Second Option: Drop the ITG Contract and Partner with a New Vendor on New Terms

Such an option implies that the contract with ITG will be canceled, a new RFP will be developed and a new contract will be signed with a new vendor.

The Advantages:

  • The experience gained will allow for a better formulation of goals and objectives, which will be:
  • Aligned with the strategy of the WRPS.
  • Correspond exactly to the needs of the systems.
  • Formulated in a non-interpretive nature.
  • Effective IT governance according to the lessons learned from the ITG partnership.
  • The occurrence of new technologies that might better serve the needs of WRPS.
  • The costs, the deadline, and the resources are likely to be estimated more realistically, and thus, increasing the chances of meeting the expectations.

The Disadvantages:

  • Loss of investments and time.
  • Funding problems, due to the high possibility of partners abandoning the project for individual options, (see RCMP).
  • The possibility of compromising a part of the functionality, to find new vendors.
  • By the time the new system will be implemented, the current system might become inoperable.

Recommendations

Considering both options in terms of advantages and disadvantages, and the initial set of problems in the current situations, it can be stated that the best option is to continue with the current contract, trying to resolve the current issue and mutually developing a methodology to overcome them. The main principle guiding the selection of the option is that being halfway through the project is a better option than starting all over, where the second option’s risks are substantial. Accordingly, the second option can be seen as an attempt to avoid the problem rather than to solve it.

Implementation Plan

Two-way review board should be formed to review the process of project management. From the part of the CIMS partners’ team, the following points should be the subject of the review:

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  • Prioritizing the changes in functionality according to the possibilities of them being compromised.
  • Establishing a group of experts that will form the project management governance, with established procedures, involvement authority, and knowledge.

From the ITG side, the points that they will be assigned are related to the proposition of changing the life-cycle model of the project, with obligatory repeated processes.

With the aforementioned objectives a meeting should be established to resolve these issues with representatives from each side providing their propositions. The main purpose of the meeting should be to reach a common ground for a compromise, clarifying the new terms, and determining the deadline.

The newly formed team of project management governance will be assigned to review the project during established phases, in which new processes will be integrated, i.e. testing and evaluation, and passing which will lead to reaching a particular milestone.

By the completion of each module in the project, a review board will meet again to analyze the progress in the project and revise the objectives, the deadline, and the costs, if necessary.

The same procedures will be repeated until the testing phase will be finished for each component of the CIMS.

Plan B

In the case the plan did not work out in its first steps, an independent group of consultants and mediators will be assigned, in which the penalty of not following the contract will be discussed with the option of selling the project as-is. In that regard, the alternative will be in transferring the right of the project, in its unfinished state, and form a new bid where the new RFP will be formed based on continuing with the project’s development, rather than developing a new one from scratch.

References

MONOCHRISTOU, V., VLACHOPOULOU, M., & MANTHOU, V. (2005). AGILE SOFTWARE PROJECT MANAGEMENT ETHODOLOGIES. PROSPECTS OF THE GREEK IT MARKET. Web.

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BusinessEssay. (2021, November 30). Waterloo Regional Police Service: The Common Information Management Systems Project. Retrieved from https://business-essay.com/waterloo-regional-police-service-the-common-information-management-systems-project/

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BusinessEssay. 2021. "Waterloo Regional Police Service: The Common Information Management Systems Project." November 30, 2021. https://business-essay.com/waterloo-regional-police-service-the-common-information-management-systems-project/.

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