Why Do You Need Sports Nutrition

Whether you are exercising to improve your health, a professional athlete or a bodybuilder, the sports nutrition plays a vital role in optimizing beneficial effects of physical activity. Choosing a right nutrition can result in injury prevention, improved performance, and recovery.According to Thomas Edison, “The doctor of future will no longer treat human frame with drugs, rather will prevent and cure disease with nutrition”.In order to support your goals and health, different nutrition professionals offer a number of services. Moreover, these nutrition can range from a daily food diary, to comprehensive nutrition and food plan for competitions and training.Here we will explore the importance of sports nutrition, and how a sports nutritionist can support our training regime. Also, they covered supplements and nutrients that are frequently included in the dietary program of athletes. We will discuss these things in details.The importance of sports nutritionConsuming balanced food and drink is very important for us all. However, people that are actively participating in sport on a routine basis should know that it can also affect their performance. For instance, athletes, may require more calories compared to average people.Those who are athletes, or even people that make up their mind to start exercising on a daily basis, should not let a good nutrition plan fall down on their list of priorities.Sports performance and the energyProtein, carbohydrates, and fats all provide our body with fuel to maintain the energy. Furthermore, carbohydrates are a primary fuel used by our working muscles. The adequate intake is necessary for preventing muscle fatigue. You are advised to monitor the fat intake, but do not completely remove it from the diet.Fats provide fatty acids in our body that can be used an energy source – especially if your exercise sessions last more than an hour. These fats also provide the building blocks for hormones as well as formation of cell walls.Proteins can be used as an energy source and they are critical for building new muscle tissues. People that are taking part in resistance training, their body will require additional protein.Weight managementEating well is very important to maintain a healthy weight. So, if you are trying to lose weight, strictly reducing fat, calorie intake or protein can have a negative impact on your performance. Meanwhile, it can also rigorously harm your body.Some specific and useful foods that you should be a part of the diet for the optimum sports nutrition include:· Whole grains· Vegetables· Fruit· Healthy fats.· Hydration, and· Sources of lean protein as well as low-fat dairy productsStaying hydrated is of utmost importance, especially when you are taking part in any sport. The inadequate fluid intake can lead to dehydration. It also affects the performance, and could be dangerous for health as well.Although dehydration can occur in any activity, it is very prevalent when exercising in humid and hot conditions. The perfect thing for re-hydration is water, but it is advised to use sports drinks with electrolytes, for those who are engaged in the physical activity for longer than an hour.After the eventYou are highly advised to avoid neglecting your nutritional needs, if you have had to walk the last half-mile of your run due to fatigue or even the things have not gone according to your plan in your game. No matter what the result is, it should be your priority.Footballers, casual runners, athletes, and others typically do not consume enough fluids when they take part in different events, or trainings. So, it is very important to restore the balance after every event. The water is perfect for rehydration.How sports nutrition professionals can help?The major aim of a dietitian or sports nutritionist is to create a nutrition plan for the training needs of different clients. The plans will incorporate hydration and food. It does not matter whether you are training for professional events or exercising casually, sports nutrition is very integral to performance.Such a strategy can also help to:· Enhance recovery.· Promote good health· Increase energy levels· Help manage weight· Develop growth and body composition· Improve concentrationIn order to create an effective nutrition strategy, sports nutrition professionals should always assess not just your diet and training, but also day-to-day habits, lifestyle, supplements and whether you are taking any medication. Nutrition professionals should also support as well as be able to analyze you with your short-term and long-term goals.NutrientsCarbohydratesThe 2 key forms of carbohydrates are, 1. Starchy or complex, and 2. Simple sugars.Complex carbohydrates, are also known as the starches, and they include grains such as pasta, rice and bread. Just like simple sugars, some complex carbohydrates are better than others. Processed refined grains like, white flour and white rice are less favorable because the fiber and nutrients are removed.Rather, nutritionists recommend that where possible, people should opt for unrefined grains that are still packed full of minerals, fiber and vitamins.Whereas, the simple sugars can be found in refined products and provide a sweet taste. These are naturally found in fruits, vegetables and milk products.We can also add them to our foods using honey, white or brown sugar, maple syrup and molasses, etc. Although all types of sugars that we eat are used by our body in the same way, but it is highly suggested to get simple sugars from foods that are rich in sugars naturally because such foods also contain important nutrients and fiber.FatsIt is an essential component of every diet because it is a great source of energy as well as helps our body to absorb nutrients.Although fats are very important, but we should still monitor the quantity of intake. Using a lot of fats could result in excess weight gain and in increased risks of severe health concerns.The saturated fats can easily be found in different animal products as well as processed foods like, chips, meat and dairy products. Such fat type is not considered to be healthy for the human heart and is thought to raise bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.Avocados, nuts, oily fish and olives are rich in unsaturated fats. Such fats are considered to be healthy for our heart and can work to raise good (HDL) cholesterol levels as well as lower the LDL cholesterol levels.ProteinEvery cell of our body contains it and due to this reason protein is important for helping to repair and build tissues. Proteins are also used to make hormones, enzymes and a number of additional body chemicals. Furthermore, proteins are very crucial for forming the building blocks of bones, blood, cartilage, skin and muscles.Some of the most common protein foods include fish, meat, eggs, nuts, soya products, seeds and pulses.SupplementsDifferent bodybuilders, sportsmen and athletes use supplements to boost their performance, recovery and strength. Supplements are available in a number of forms ranging from minerals and multivitamins through to creatine, protein and many other ‘ergogenic’ aids.You are advised to ensure that your diet is balanced, healthy and suits your sport, before opting to take any form of supplement. It is also advised to consult a registered nutritionist or an accredited sports dietician before if you have decided to take additional nutrients in supplemental form. These experts can assess your suitability for a particular supplement.Some common sports supplements include the following:CreatineIt is a high-energy compound which helps to provide and store energy. It is produced within our body, and is naturally available in meat and fish. It can also be taken in the form of supplements.In order to increase muscle strength, creatine is used by sportsmen and athletes as a dietary supplement. It is intended to boost performance during frequent, high-intensity exercise and also help you train for longer.Whey proteinA natural protein which is naturally present in milk, and contains very little carbohydrate, lactose or fat. It is considered a naturally complete protein, which means whey is made up of all essential amino acids that are required in our average daily diet.Also housing the perfect combination of amino acids, this protein also contains branch chain of amino acids (BCAAs) that are the 1st ones to be used while intense training. Whey provides our body with these amino acids and in turn they assist with rebuilding and repairing lean muscle tissue.Whey protein is extremely easy to digest so it can provide instant nourishment to our muscles and can absorb quickly.Energy drinksIt is extremely important to stay well hydrated during training and exercise. Even a little amount of dehydration could be detrimental to your performance levels. Although, drinking water is considered a good way to keep ourselves hydrated during exercise. Still, some bodybuilders and athletes opt for energy drinks, especially people that undertake endurance events like long distance running.A number of energy drinks consist of sodium and other electrolytes that encourage drinking and help us to stimulate thirst. They also enhance our body’s ability to hold the water. Furthermore, carbohydrates contained in many energy drinks and can provide us with extra energy which may be needed in the latter stages of training.This article is reviewed by an experienced dietitian, and is provided for general information purposes only. People having trouble with their dietary plans are advised to consult specialists.

Everything About Life Insurance!

I want to start off this 2010 with an article regarding Life Insurance. Many people find this topic morbid but believe me when I say this contract is as important as a Will and should be taken just as seriously as health insurance. Due to the length in details of this article I have provided chapters for easy reading. I hope this will educate you on Life Insurance and the importance of its necessity. (Note: For better understanding “You” is the policy owner and the insured)Chapters:1= Introduction2=When/If you have Life Insurance already3= Difference between a Insurance Agent and Broker4= Types of Policies5= What are Riders and popular types of Riders6= The medical exam1) About general Life Insurance:
This is a contract between you and an insurance company to pay a certain amount (the premium) to a company in exchange for a benefit (called the Death Benefit, face amount, or policy amount) to the beneficiary (the person you want to get paid in the time of your death). This can range based on the type of policy (which will be discussed momentarily), your health, your hobbies, the Insurance company, how much you can afford in premiums, AND the amount of the benefit. It sounds overwhelming but it is not if you have the right agent or broker.Now many people can say that Life Insurance is like gambling. You are betting that you will die in a specific time and the insurance company bets you won’t. If the insurer wins, they keep the premiums, if you win…well you die and the death benefit goes to the beneficiary. This is a very morbid way of looking at it and if that is the case you can say the same for health insurance, auto insurance, and rental insurance. The truth is, you need life insurance in order to ease the burden of your death. Example 1: A married couple, both professionals that earn very well for a living have a child and like any other family has monthly expenses and 1 of the couple has a death. The odds of the spouse going back to work the next day is very slim. Odds are in fact that your ability to function in your career will lower which RISK the cause of not being able to pay expenses or having to use one’s savings or investments in order to pay for these expenses NOT INCLUDING the death tax and funeral expenses. This can be financially devastating. Example 2: lower middle income family, a death occurs to 1 of the income earners. How will the family be capable of maintaining their current financial lifestyle?Life insurance is about the ability of lowering the risk of financial burden. This can be in the form of simple cash or taxes via estate planning.KEY Definitions:The Insured: The person that is covered by the insurance company (He/She does NOT have to the policy owner)The (policy) Owner: The one that pays the premium, controls the beneficiary, and basically owns the contract (Does NOT have to the insured…hope you understand it can be either/or).Face Amount: Also known as the death benefit. The amount to be paid to the beneficiary.The Beneficiary: Is the person/persons/organization who will receive the face amount (death benefit)2) When/If you have Life Insurance:
First, you should review your beneficiaries once a year and your policy approximately once every 2-3 years. This is free! You need to make sure the beneficiaries are the people/person you want to get paid! Divorce, death, a disagreement, or anything of the sort can make you change your mind about a particular person to receive the benefit so make sure you have the right people, estate/trust, AND/OR organization (non-profit preferably) to receive the benefit. Furthermore, you need to review every 2-3 years because many companies can offer a lower premium OR raise the benefit if you renew your policy or if you find a competitor that sees you have been paying the premiums may compete for your business. Either way, this is something you should consider to either save money or raise the policy amount! This is a win-win for you so there should be no reason not to do this.3) Life Insurance Agent or Broker, what is the difference?:
The major difference is an Agent is usually an independent sales man that usually works with different insurance companies in order to give the client the best possible policy while the Broker works for a particular company. My personal advice: always choose an Agent. Not because I am one myself BUT because an agent can look out for your benefit by providing different quotes, types, riders that are available (explained later), AND pros/cons regarding each insurance company. If you don’t like a particular insurance company, tell the agent and he should move on to the next carrier (if he persist for some odd reason, fire him). Buyers BEWARE: The Agent should get paid by the carrier that is chosen, not by you specifically. If an Agent asks for money upfront for anything, RUN! There are also Insurance consultants that you pay but to keep things simple, see an Agent. Consultants and Agents are also great in reviewing current policies in order to lower premiums or increase benefits.4) Types of Policies:
There are 2 main categories: Term and Permanent Insurance. Within each of the 2 categories have sub-categories. I will explain them at a glance in order for you to make the best possible choice for you and your loved ones. Remember, you can have estate/trust or a organization as the beneficiary. (Note: There are even more sub-sub-categories within these sub-categories but the difference are so small and self explanatory that I have not included it in this article. Once you speak to an agent you will have enough knowledge by this article that you will know what questions to ask and know if you agent is right for you).Term Insurance: A temporary policy in which the beneficiary is paid only upon death of the insured (you) within a specific time period (hence the word “Term”). Term Insurance is usually less expensive with a smaller death benefit. Some do not require medical exams BUT expect to pay a higher premium since the risk of the insurance company is unknown. Also, term insurance normally does not accumulate cash value (explained in permanent insurance) but can be purchased on top of your permanent policy (for those that may have coverage already):Convertible Term: Ability to convert policy to permanent. There are some REALLY GOOD policies that require no medical exam, driver history, or hazardous avocations at a certain point in order to convert to permanent coverage guaranteed with all the benefits that permanent insurance policies has to offer.Renewable Term: Able to renew a term policy without evidence of insurability.Level Term: Fixed premiums over a certain time period than increases (great for those that are young adults and expect within 10 years to have a increase in pay).Increasing/Decreasing Term: Coverage increases or decreases throughout the term while the premium remains the same.Group Term: Usually used for employers or associations. This covers several people in order to reduce premiums. (Great for small business owners)Permanent Insurance: Just as the name states, this provides coverage throughout the lifetime of the insured. This also builds cash value which is fantastic for tax purposes because if you loan out money to yourself using this cash value there are no tax implications. Few policies may have in general withdrawal tax-free. However in most cases, If you withdraw the cash value you pay the only the taxes on the premiums (the amount that grew) which is fantastic. Just make sure your agent knows not to have the cash value grow larger than the death benefit otherwise it is subject to 10% taxes! Surrender charges may also apply when you withdrawal so PLEASE consult with an agent who can assist you with these details. You should consider Permanent Insurance if you have a family and don’t mind an increase in premiums (amount you pay) by a few dollars compared to term.Traditional Whole Life: Pay a fixed amount of premium in order to be covered for the insured’s entire life which includes accumulating cash value.Single-Premium Whole Life Insurance: Whole life insurance for 1 lump sum premium (usually that 1 lump sum is very large in order to get a great death benefit).Participating Whole Life Insurance: Just like Traditional Whole life except it pays you dividends which can be used as cash OR pay your dividends for you! There is no guarantee that you will be paid the dividends, this is based on performance within the insurance company.Limited Payment Whole Life Insurance: Limited payments for whole life but requires a higher premium since you are in fact paying for a shorter amount of time. This can be based on payment amounts (10, 20, 30, etc payments) or a particular age (whole life is paid up at age 65, 75, 85, etc).Universal Life Insurance: Flexible premiums with flexible face amounts (the death benefit) with a unbundled pricing factors. Ex: If you pay X amount, you are covered for X amount.Indexed Universal Life: Flexible premium/benefit with the cash value is tied to the performance of a particular financial index. Most insurance companies crediting rate (% of growth) will not go below zero.Variable Life Insurance: Death Benefit and cash value fluctuates according to the investment performance from a separate account of investment options. Usually insurance policies guarantee the benefit will not fall below a specified minimum.Variable Universal Life Insurance (also called Flexible Premium Variable Life Insurance & Universal Life II/2): A combination of Variable and Universal which has premium/death benefit flexibility as well as investment flexibility.Last Survivor Universal Life Insurance (also called Survivorship or “Second to die” Insurance): Covers 2 people and the death benefit is only paid when both insurers have died. This is FANTASTIC and somewhat a necessity for families that pay estate taxes (usually High-Net-worth individuals).5) Life Insurance Riders, what is it and why is it very important:
Rider is the name of a benefit that is added to your policy. This provides special additions to the policy which can be blended and put together. There are SO MANY types of riders that I would have to write a different article regarding Riders (and insurance companies add new types of riders often) but I want to at least name the most popular (and in my opinion, the most important) that you should highly consider when choosing a policy. Riders add to the cost of the premium but don’t take riders lightly; it can be a life saver!Accidental Death Benefit Rider (AD&D): Additional death benefit will be paid to the beneficiary if you die from a result of an accident (ie: Car accidents, a fall down the stairs). This is especially important if the insurer travels often, relatively young, and has a family. Please note: You can buy AD&D Insurance separately.Accidental Death & Dismemberment Rider: Same as above BUT if you lose 2 limbs or sight will pay the death benefit. Some policies may offer smaller amounts if losing 1 eye or 1 limb. This is great for those that work with their hands.Disability Income Rider: You will receive a monthly income if you are totally and permanently disabled. You are guaranteed a specific level of income. Pay attention to this detail, depending on the policy it will either pay you depending on how long the disability lasts OR time frame of the rider.Guaranteed Insurability Rider: Ability to purchase additional coverage in intervals based on age or policy years without having to check insurance eligibility.Level Term Rider: Gives you a fixed amount of term insurance added to your permanent policy. This rider can add 3-5 times the death benefit or your policy. Not a bad deal!Waiver of Premium Rider: If you become disabled which results to the inability to work/earn income, the waiver will exempt you from paying the premiums while your policy is still in force! There is a huge gap between policies and insurance companies so the devils in the details with this rider.Family Income Benefit Rider: In case of death of the insurer, this rider will provide income for a specific time period for your family.Accelerated Death Benefit Rider: An insurer that is diagnosed with a terminal illness will receive 25-40% of the death benefit of the base policy (The decision is made between the insurer and the insurance company). This will lower the death benefit however depending on your finances or living lifestyle, this rider should not be taken lightly and should seriously be considered.Long-Term Care Rider: If the insurer’s health compels to stay in a nursing home or receive care at home, this rider will provide monthly payments. Please Note: Long Term Care insurance can be bought separately for more benefit.6) The Medical Exam:
This section is not to scary you away but to mentally (and possibly physically) prepare you for the medical exam so this way you know what to expect and can get the lowest possible premiums while receiving the highest possible death benefit. This really shouldn’t be a concern if you work out regularly and maintain a healthy eating habit (notice I said habit and not diet. Diets don’t work for long term).The exam is mandatory for most insurance policies. Many term insurance do not require one but expect a low death benefit and/or higher premium. The idea of the exam is not just to see if you’re insurable but to also see how much they will charge the insurer/policy owner. The exam is done by a “paramedical” professional that are independent contractors hired by the insurance company who either come to your home or has an office where you/the insurer visit. They are licensed health professionals so they know what to look for! In very few cases the insurance company may ask for an “Attending Physician Statement (APS)” from your doctor. This must be provided by your doctor and NOT copies by you. TIP: The “paramedical” job is to give the insurance company a reason to increase your premiums so don’t give any details that are not asked.First part (either called Part 1 or Part A) is complete by the Agent or by you. Part 2/B is the paramedical or physician portion. The best bet is to have your agent contact a paramedical that specializes in mobile exams for an easier exam for you. Paramedical will contact you to schedule an appointment. The exam is not optional so it’s not a matter of yes or no but when and where. This entire exam will cost you nothing except time so make the time, life insurance is important!The paramedical/physician will take your medical history (questions), physical measurements of height and weight, blood pressure, pulse, blood, and urine. Additional tests will vary based on age and policy amount (yes, the higher the death benefit = the more tests that must be provided). Now if the policy is substantial, the insurance company may not send a paramedical but require an actual Medical Doctor to exam you. Of course, this is chosen by the insurance company so remember my tip earlier! This exam may even include a treadmill test and additional crazy exams in order to see if you qualify for that substantial amount and low premium. On the flip side, if you choose a low insurance policy, you will just have a paramedical doing simple tests that mentioned earlier with no additional exams.What they are looking for: Paramedical/Physicians are looking for health conditions that may shorten your life. Remember, insurance companies are here to make a business and if you’re a liability then it might be a risk they do not want to take or raise the premium to make the risk tolerable. Blood and urine is taken to see the following:- your antibodies or antigens to HIV- Cholesterol and related lipids- Antibodies to hepatitis- Liver/kidney disorders- Diabetes- Immunity disorders- Prostate specific antigen (PSA)- Drug tests such as cocaineThe Results: They are sent directly to the insurance company’s home office underwriters for review. Many times you can request (must be written request) to receive a copy of the results however many insurance companies will automatically do this. Many times they will find abnormalities but it’s usually not a concern and just speak to your medical professional for a follow up (remember: the insurance company will look at these exams with a “fine tooth cone” in order to see what the risk are). The underwriters will look at the exam results and the application (remember part 1/a? well, now they want to see if your also lying) and determine the premium amount. Smokers pay more; any nicotine in your system will consider you a smoker, even if it is just socially.The premium is determined by a category that you fit in. This really depends on the insurance company on how they factor but the general rule is if you are a higher risk, you pay higher premium. If you are standard risk, you will pay a standard premium, and if you are a preferred risk, you will pay a low premium.You can decline the policy after you receive the final quote after the exam but do remember this: All results will become part of the MIB group’s database (Medical information Bureau). This is a clearinghouse of medical information that insurance companies use to store information after you apply for Life/Health/Disability Income/Long Term care/Critical Illness insurance. So for seven years it will be on database. You can receive a free report annually (like a credit check) at their website which I included at the bottom of this article.Now that you know practically everything there is to know about life insurance. I hope you realize how important it is. It may seem like a lot but the hardest part is simply choosing what type of policy is right for you. This can be done with the help of your Agent. In the end, everyone is different and everyone should analyze their own situation and need for the beneficiaries. If you have even the slightest concern for a loved one regarding what will happen if you was no longer with us then you should consider life insurance. There truly is a feeling a relief once you know you and your loved ones are covered regardless of how much you or that person makes. For many that feel that their loved ones don’t need the death benefit due to whatever the case may be (“they earn enough money to survive” is the biggest reason I hear against life insurance), this can be a simple last gesture of “I love you” or appreciation for them being part of your life.I hope I was able to educate you in Life Insurance and if you have any additional questions please feel free to email me.MIB website: http://www.mib.com/html/request_your_record.html

Best in Class Finance Functions For Police Forces

Background

Police funding has risen by £4.8 billion and 77 per cent (39 per cent in real terms) since 1997. However the days where forces have enjoyed such levels of funding are over.

Chief Constables and senior management recognize that the annual cycle of looking for efficiencies year-on-year is not sustainable, and will not address the cash shortfall in years to come.
Facing slower funding growth and real cash deficits in their budgets, the Police Service must adopt innovative strategies which generate the productivity and efficiency gains needed to deliver high quality policing to the public.

The step-change in performance required to meet this challenge will only be achieved if the police service fully embraces effective resource management and makes efficient and productive use of its technology, partnerships and people.

The finance function has an essential role to play in addressing these challenges and supporting Forces’ objectives economically and efficiently.

Challenge

Police Forces tend to nurture a divisional and departmental culture rather than a corporate one, with individual procurement activities that do not exploit economies of scale. This is in part the result of over a decade of devolving functions from the center to the.divisions.

In order to reduce costs, improve efficiency and mitigate against the threat of “top down” mandatory, centrally-driven initiatives, Police Forces need to set up a corporate back office and induce behavioral change. This change must involve compliance with a corporate culture rather than a series of silos running through the organization.

Developing a Best in Class Finance Function

Traditionally finance functions within Police Forces have focused on transactional processing with only limited support for management information and business decision support. With a renewed focus on efficiencies, there is now a pressing need for finance departments to transform in order to add greater value to the force but with minimal costs.

1) Aligning to Force Strategy

As Police Forces need finance to function, it is imperative that finance and operations are closely aligned. This collaboration can be very powerful and help deliver significant improvements to a Force, but in order to achieve this model, there are many barriers to overcome. Finance Directors must look at whether their Force is ready for this collaboration, but more importantly, they must consider whether the Force itself can survive without it.

Finance requires a clear vision that centers around its role as a balanced business partner. However to achieve this vision a huge effort is required from the bottom up to understand the significant complexity in underlying systems and processes and to devise a way forward that can work for that particular organization.

The success of any change management program is dependent on its execution. Change is difficult and costly to execute correctly, and often, Police Forces lack the relevant experience to achieve such change. Although finance directors are required to hold appropriate professional qualifications (as opposed to being former police officers as was the case a few years ago) many have progressed within the Public Sector with limited opportunities for learning from and interaction with best in class methodologies. In addition cultural issues around self-preservation can present barriers to change.

Whilst it is relatively easy to get the message of finance transformation across, securing commitment to embark on bold change can be tough. Business cases often lack the quality required to drive through change and even where they are of exceptional quality senior police officers often lack the commercial awareness to trust them.

2) Supporting Force Decisions

Many Finance Directors are keen to develop their finance functions. The challenge they face is convincing the rest of the Force that the finance function can add value – by devoting more time and effort to financial analysis and providing senior management with the tools to understand the financial implications of major strategic decisions.

Maintaining Financial Controls and Managing Risk

Sarbanes Oxley, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), Basel II and Individual Capital Assessments (ICA) have all put financial controls and reporting under the spotlight in the private sector. This in turn is increasing the spotlight on financial controls in the public sector.

A ‘Best in Class’ Police Force finance function will not just have the minimum controls to meet the regulatory requirements but will evaluate how the legislation and regulations that the finance function are required to comply with, can be leveraged to provide value to the organization. Providing strategic information that will enable the force to meet its objectives is a key task for a leading finance function.

3) Value to the Force

The drive for development over the last decade or so, has moved decision making to the Divisions and has led to an increase in costs in the finance function. Through utilizing a number of initiatives in a program of transformation, a Force can leverage up to 40% of savings on the cost of finance together with improving the responsiveness of finance teams and the quality of financial information. These initiatives include:

Centralization

By centralizing the finance function, a Police Force can create centers of excellence where industry best practice can be developed and shared. This will not only re-empower the department, creating greater independence and objectivity in assessing projects and performance, but also lead to more consistent management information and a higher degree of control. A Police Force can also develop a business partner group to act as strategic liaisons to departments and divisions. The business partners would, for example, advise on how the departmental and divisional commanders can meet the budget in future months instead of merely advising that the budget has been missed for the previous month.

With the mundane number crunching being performed in a shared service center, finance professionals will find they now have time to act as business partners to divisions and departments and focus on the strategic issues.

The cultural impact on the departments and divisional commanders should not be underestimated. Commanders will be concerned that:

o Their budgets will be centralized
o Workloads would increase
o There will be limited access to finance individuals
o There will not be on site support

However, if the centralized shared service center is designed appropriately none of the above should apply. In fact from centralization under a best practice model, leaders should accrue the following benefits:

o Strategic advice provided by business partners
o Increased flexibility
o Improved management information
o Faster transactions
o Reduced number of unresolved queries
o Greater clarity on service and cost of provision
o Forum for finance to be strategically aligned to the needs of the Force

A Force that moves from a de-centralized to a centralized system should try and ensure that the finance function does not lose touch with the Chief Constable and Divisional Commanders. Forces need to have a robust business case for finance transformation combined with a governance structure that spans operational, tactical and strategic requirements. There is a risk that potential benefits of implementing such a change may not be realized if the program is not carefully managed. Investment is needed to create a successful centralized finance function. Typically the future potential benefits of greater visibility and control, consistent processes, standardized management information, economies of scale, long-term cost savings and an empowered group of proud finance professionals, should outweigh those initial costs.

To reduce the commercial, operational and capability risks, the finance functions can be completely outsourced or partially outsourced to third parties. This will provide guaranteed cost benefits and may provide the opportunity to leverage relationships with vendors that provide best practice processes.

Process Efficiencies

Typically for Police Forces the focus on development has developed a silo based culture with disparate processes. As a result significant opportunities exist for standardization and simplification of processes which provide scalability, reduce manual effort and deliver business benefit. From simply rationalizing processes, a force can typically accrue a 40% reduction in the number of processes. An example of this is the use of electronic bank statements instead of using the manual bank statement for bank reconciliation and accounts receivable processes. This would save considerable effort that is involved in analyzing the data, moving the data onto different spreadsheet and inputting the data into the financial systems.

Organizations that possess a silo operating model tend to have significant inefficiencies and duplication in their processes, for example in HR and Payroll. This is largely due to the teams involved meeting their own goals but not aligning to the corporate objectives of an organization. Police Forces have a number of independent teams that are reliant on one another for data with finance in departments, divisions and headquarters sending and receiving information from each other as well as from the rest of the Force. The silo model leads to ineffective data being received by the teams that then have to carry out additional work to obtain the information required.

Whilst the argument for development has been well made in the context of moving decision making closer to operational service delivery, the added cost in terms of resources, duplication and misaligned processes has rarely featured in the debate. In the current financial climate these costs need to be recognized.

Culture

Within transactional processes, a leading finance function will set up targets for staff members on a daily basis. This target setting is an element of the metric based culture that leading finance functions develop. If the appropriate metrics of productivity and quality are applied and when these targets are challenging but not impossible, this is proven to result in improvements to productivity and quality.

A ‘Best in Class’ finance function in Police Forces will have a service focused culture, with the primary objectives of providing a high level of satisfaction for its customers (departments, divisions, employees & suppliers). A ‘Best in Class’ finance function will measure customer satisfaction on a timely basis through a metric based approach. This will be combined with a team wide focus on process improvement, with process owners, that will not necessarily be the team leads, owning force-wide improvement to each of the finance processes.

Organizational Improvements

Organizational structures within Police Forces are typically made up of supervisors leading teams of one to four team members. Through centralizing and consolidating the finance function, an opportunity exists to increase the span of control to best practice levels of 6 to 8 team members to one team lead / supervisor. By adjusting the organizational structure and increasing the span of control, Police Forces can accrue significant cashable benefit from a reduction in the number of team leads and team leads can accrue better management experience from managing larger teams.

Technology Enabled Improvements

There are a significant number of technology improvements that a Police Force could implement to help develop a ‘Best in Class’ finance function.

These include:

A) Scanning and workflow

Through adopting a scanning and workflow solution to replace manual processes, improved visibility, transparency and efficiencies can be reaped.

B) Call logging, tracking and workflow tool

Police Forces generally have a number of individuals responding to internal and supplier queries. These queries are neither logged nor tracked. The consequence of this is dual:

o Queries consume considerable effort within a particular finance team. There is a high risk of duplicated effort from the lack of logging of queries. For example, a query could be responded to for 30 minutes by person A in the finance team. Due to this query not being logged, if the individual that raised the query called up again and spoke to a different person then just for one additional question, this could take up to 20 minutes to ensure that the background was appropriately explained.

o Queries can have numerous interfaces with the business. An unresolved query can be responded against by up to four separate teams with considerable delay in providing a clear answer for the supplier.

The implementation of a call logging, tracking and workflow tool to document, measure and close internal and supplier queries combined with the set up of a central queries team, would significantly reduce the effort involved in responding to queries within the finance departments and divisions, as well as within the actual divisions and departments, and procurement.

C) Database solution

Throughout finance departments there are a significant number of spreadsheets utilized prior to input into the financial system. There is a tendency to transfer information manually from one spreadsheet to another to meet the needs of different teams.

Replacing the spreadsheets with a database solution would rationalize the number of inputs and lead to effort savings for the front line Police Officers as well as Police Staff.

D) Customize reports

In obtaining management information from the financial systems, police staff run a series of reports, import these into excel, use lookups to match the data and implement pivots to illustrate the data as required. There is significant manual effort that is involved in carrying out this work. Through customizing reports the outputs from the financial system can be set up to provide the data in the formats required through the click of a button. This would have the benefit of reduced effort and improved motivation for team members that previously carried out these mundane tasks.

In designing, procuring and implementing new technology enabling tools, a Police Force will face a number of challenges including investment approval; IT capacity; capability; and procurement.

These challenges can be mitigated through partnering with a third party service company with whom the investment can be shared, the skills can be provided and the procurement cycle can be minimized.

Conclusion

It is clear that cultural, process and technology change is required if police forces are to deliver both sustainable efficiencies and high quality services. In an environment where for the first time forces face real cash deficits and face having to reduce police officer and support staff numbers whilst maintaining current performance levels the current finance delivery models requires new thinking.

While there a number of barriers to be overcome in achieving a best in class finance function, it won’t be long before such a decision becomes mandatory. Those who are ahead of the curve will inevitably find themselves in a stronger position.