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Information management planning made simple

April 5, 2021  By Lance Valcour

When adopting new technologies, the biggest mistake police chiefs and public
safety leaders can make is not implementing an information management strategic plan first. The good news is that developing a plan is relatively easy and can be completed quickly and inexpensively.

Basics of Information Management Strategic Planning

There are numerous strategic planning models available for consideration. One such model is the Canadian Community Safety Information Management Strategy, a strategic document that sets goals and identifies key national priorities to enhance governance, planning, technology, training and exercises to promote information management. Like all good strategic plans, it looks at three main components: where you are, where you want to be and how you’re going to get there.

Step One: Identify Your Subject Matter Experts

Step one is to identify your subject matter experts (SME). They should come from all areas of your agency including operations and administration. Police association and governing board representatives should be considered play key roles in helping to ensure the long- term success of your plan.

Step Two: Identify your Facilitator

Identify and engage your facilitator early. Ideally, this person (or team) should be external experts. If you can’t afford an external expert, select a non-executive employee with operational experience; someone well respected who will steer the process, not control it.


Step Three: Define Your Current State

The next stage of the planning process is to bring these SMEs together, ideally in-person. Create a comprehensive list of your data sources and tools and how all are currently being used, including by the public (i.e. emergency alerts). Outline data silos that should be interoperable but are not.

Step Four: Defining your perfect ‘Future State’

Forget about constraints. Budget is not an issue at this stage, nor are any of the other barriers that typically crop up when discussing the future and think about how you envision all these systems will be interoperable via open standards.

Step Five: Barriers to Change

Barriers may include lack of budget, deficit of resources, non-interoperable tools and/or cultural challenges. Explore each barrier in as much detail as possible—this is your “problem statement” and will help in the next phase.

Step Six: Case for Change

“Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it.” -Simon Sinek.

This stage of the planning process requires everyone in the room to join forces in articulating why others should approve your plan.

Step Seven: Draft the Plan & Seek Approvals

As Stephen Covey wrote, “begin with the end in mind.” This is, in large part, why selecting the right facilitator at the outset of this process is important. They need to create a clear and visually appealing plan that appeals to all, including the association, governing body and, eventually, your community.

Step Eight: Implementation

Develop a clear set of prioritized goals and objectives to allow for a step-by-step approach to implementation. The goals developed in the plan need to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based (SMART).


The true goal for this eight-step process is ensuring the ‘right’ information gets to the ‘right’ people at the ‘right’ time. As Stephen Covey wrote, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” In the context of information management planning, the “main thing” is keeping our communities and officers safe. Doing so in an open, transparent and accountable fashion ensures that your planning process will not only succeed but will be viewed as true step forward by your members and the community you serve.

Inspector (Ret.) Lance Valcour O.O.M. retired from the Ottawa Police Service in 2010 after 33 years of service. He is an independent consultant, strategic adviser, author, marketing technologist, digital evangelist, coach, internationally recognized keynote speaker and facilitator on a wide range of public safety issues including information management, information and communications technology, interoperability and business development.

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