Personally, I am not a dispatcher. However, I am lucky enough to get to spend time with many first responders, and I have learned a lot from this great group of individuals over the years. Specifically, I’ve been educated on what does and doesn’t work for them when it comes to their dispatch consoles. While I came into this market with an understanding of how office furniture is designed, manufactured and installed, the furniture needs of an administrative setting are a bit simpler when compared to the complicated needs of a dispatch center. The dispatchers who I’ve gotten to know have opened my eyes to how important the process of selecting new dispatch console truly is.
The first step involves finding the right console furniture supplier, as the source that you get the console from has much to do with whether or not the product is a worthwhile investment. Of course the product alone is an important piece, but emphasizing the details of the entire sales process, rather than just looking to make a quick buy, will help the purchase be more satisfactory down the road.
Here are a few questions that you should ask the supplier-in-question:
- How is the product going to hold up? Dispatch centers require the furniture to hold up 24 hours every single day. The console may look sturdy at first, but how will it fare in a year or two? A quality manufacturer should be able to tell you why their product is reliable.
- What is the support going to be like from the supplier after the initial install? Will they install the console and then leave you to fend for yourself if any issues occur? What does the warranty look like?
- Is the layout going to be right for how your center functions? This is the most important thing to ask, as a trustworthy supplier will want to make sure that your investment is tailored to your specific center’s needs. Consoles are not a one-size-fits-all kind of a purchase.
The questions above should help you decide whether or not a supplier has what you need, but in order to really get what is best for your center, you shouldn't be the only one asking the questions. Communication between the dispatch team and the console supplier is fundamental, and a good provider will want to take notes from the people who will actually be using the product. More often than not, dispatchers themselves have suggestions and ideas and can specify what changes need to be made in order to make their jobs and lives easier.
This is where the term “WE” comes into play. The provider and the center should be partners throughout the process. The people who work in a dispatch center can teach us, the console manufacturers, how their particular center works, whereas we have years of experience working with dispatch centers. Bringing the two sides together will help curb poor design decisions while making sure the center gets exactly what it needs. Your supplier can get the necessary information that will help form successful building blocks for your new center simply by taking the time to ask the right questions.
To clarify, your supplier should ask you questions that center around the following “WE” acronyms. Let’s break it down:
- Workflow and Ergonomics (WE)
- Workflow: How do the dispatchers work as individuals? How do they work as a team?
- Ergonomics: How can we fit the workstations to best meet each person’s unique needs?
- Workspace and Equipment (WE)
- Workspace: How can we provide you with enough room to work in your primary work zone and also correctly position other important tools that you use in your secondary work zone?
- Equipment: What type of equipment do you currently have? What new technology do you plan on acquiring in the foreseeable future?
Dispatch consoles are not only an investment that boosts the morale and the productivity of the dispatchers who use them; they also benefit the community that you are supporting. To make a purchase that will help you now and in the future, your new console manufacturer should be a partner in helping you develop the right solution for all of your needs.