People who work in dispatch centers are experts in all kinds of emergency and non-emergency situations that I’ll never understand. They are not likely, however, to be experts in remodeling and selecting dispatch center consoles. So once funds are approved for a remodel or expansion, who is assigned to manage the project?
In a smaller center, the chief or director usually tackles the project. But as the center grows in size, so does the complexity of the project. Larger centers typically employ a project manager in-house or hire a consultant to keep the project on track. For most of our projects, I find that a project manager who works at the center is tasked with the project.
The project manager will keep track of the research, decision-making, budget, and schedule for the remodel—often while continuing to perform his or her regular job. Therefore, the first thing the project manager should do is ask for help! Pull together a steering committee to provide input, expertise, and assistance. Kick off the project with the entire committee and share what you know about the project’s goals, budget, and rough timeline. Then, you can set regular meetings, provide updates, and work with smaller groups.
A steering committee might involve the following representatives:
- Console Users
- IT Pros
- Console Furniture Vendors
- Facilities and Finance
The most important part of the steering committee—and the key to the success of the remodel—is the operators and dispatchers who sit at the consoles 8–12 hours a day. The people who work at the consoles know what they need and like, and they’ll have to live with the results for the next 10 to 15 years. Plus, people feel appreciated and empowered when you make the effort to listen and learn from them. Consulting them early on will help ensure they love it.
In a larger center, you won’t be able to take input from everyone, so select steering committee members that represent the team. (For example, select one person from each group or shift.)
Input from supervisors can help immensely. They understand the workflow of the room and can predict what issues may arise, including the need to plan for more or less space to serve the community. Their opinions and guidance will support the whole team, so be sure to note their advice.
IT Pros and Electricians
Behind the scenes (or behind the console) is the IT professional who ensures that everything keeps working as it should. They understand the current hardware and software needs, and track trends to understand what’s happening in the next five years. For example, you’ll need input from IT on where computers go (on the ground, hanging, in a server room) today. And you’ll need their input on future needs as monitors get bigger, computers get smaller, and other technologies are introduced. In addition, IT can coordinate with an electrician on the power supply, amperage, and circuits needed for each console.
Representatives and designers from furniture solution manufacturers provide expertise in console selection, ergonomics, space planning, design considerations such as lighting and color, and much more. They are the ones who know how to select consoles that are big enough for your equipment and yet fit in your room. Plus, they can share industry best practices and trends to ensure that your new control room is comfortable, functional, and built to last. Xybix provides free design services and project management packages that ensure ADA and electrical compliance while meeting dispatcher needs in terms of light, space, comfort, and productivity.
Finance & Facilities
You’ll need support from finance and/or procurement on the initial budget, approvals, change orders, and vendor payments. Support from facilities will be invaluable on the delivery and installation for all projects. For more complex projects, such as expansions, you definitely need facilities input.
While a dispatch center remodel is a major investment in time and money, it’s also super fun to check out all the new furniture and envision a new space. Make sure all the steering committee members know each other, are comfortable sharing their thoughts, and are enjoying the process. Plan some field trips to check out nearby remodels, bring great snacks to meetings, and celebrate milestones. Let your steering committee help you steer your project to success, and you’ll reap benefits in higher morale and productivity.
Remember, Xybix is always here to help.