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.

Nutritional Supplements – A Waste of Money?

You may be surprised to learn that nutritional supplements vary significantly in quality and effectiveness. Even products with the same brand name may have very different results varying from some positive effects to no effect or, in some cases, harmful effects.Formulations are often thrown together using ingredients which have had lots of media attention, in an attempt to fill a demand and make some money at your expense. No thought goes into what nutrients are combined with what minerals or what enzymes.The fact is, you can’t simply cram a bunch of popular, high profile nutrients together in a pill and expect them to be of any benefit to your health. Without proper formulation, supplements will not have the nutritional cofactors and phytonutrients your body requires. As a result, your body will not recognize and absorb the nutrients and they will (hopefully) pass through your system with no benefit. I say hopefully because, in some instances, they will actually do more harm than good.Now you are thinking, “How can nutritional supplements harm me?” Read on and I will explain.To ensure nutrition is delivered to the cells of your body, it is necessary that each nutritional supplement contains a formulation specifically matched with quality whole food ingredients. In other words, each product contains the necessary enzymes, minerals and co-factors in the exact balance that is found in nature.This “delivery system” should:

Deliver the nutrients to the blood stream quickly,

Ensure the highest absorption possible,

Provide minerals and co-factors which promote optimum enzyme activity,

Guarantee that the nutrients are delivered to the cells of your body and

Support your body’s natural absorption processes.
What happens if the supplements I take do not have a delivery system?Coordinated enzymes and minerals must be present for nutrients to reach the cells of your body. As a result, certain minerals and co-factors are required in order for enzyme activity to occur. If they are not available, enzyme activity “robs” your body’s nutrient stores to make up the shortfall. Over a long period of time your health may suffer and in some cases, the effects may be irreversible.What is meant by the term “cellular nutrition”? Do the cells in my body actually eat? Yes! In a manner of speaking, they do eat.In 1942, the nutritionist Victor Lindlahr published “You Are What You Eat: how to win and keep health with diet”. (The phrase is actually much older but it appears that this publication is what brought it into the public consciousness) Since that time we have been obsessed with the notion that if we eat a well balanced diet we will ensure good heath and vitality.However, in recent history, nutritionists have discovered that it is not necessarily the nutrition we consume but the nutrition that is delivered to and absorbed by our cells that determines our health. This is why it’s important to ensure that each cell not only receives the nutrients it needs but receives it in a format that is recognizable and easy to absorb (eat).What can stop supplements from reaching my cells?If a nutritional supplement does not have the right molecular structure they may not be able to make the journey through the stomach and into the blood stream.Sometimes this can be a good thing. “Vitamin C from ascorbic acid” (have you seen this phrase on labels?), for example, contains only a fraction of the whole vitamin C. If this fractionated nutrient were to get through, the rest of the co-factors would have to be obtained so that it can be utilized. This “robs” your body of vital reserves and may result in unfavorable health conditions in the future.What happens when vitamins and minerals are not absorbed?When vitamins, minerals and herbs are not absorbed they can get into areas of your body where their presence will cause problems. Iron in your liver, for example, can cause liver damage because your body is unable to dispose of it. Other vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, D, E and K can cause similar problems in other organs.So, to answer the question posed at the beginning of this article…… Are Nutritional Supplements a Waste of Money?They can be if they do not include a strategy that ensures Cellular Nutrition Guaranteed but ….If your supplements incorporate a good strategy for Cellular Delivery along with:

100% all-natural raw materials that Obey the Laws of Nature,

Nutrition that fulfill your body’s needs not market trends,

A holistic formulation that does not interrupt or interfere with the harmony and balance of the natural functioning of your body and

Nutrition from whole food complexes (example: whole food vitamin) not fractionated or synthetic sources,
You will be surprised at the fantastic results you can achieve.”Guaranteed Cellular Delivery” – What a concept!

My Anti Aging Skin Care Review – 3 Things You Must Know

In my anti aging skin care review of dozens of products, I’ve discovered three crucial things that separate an effective anti aging skin care system from those that don’t measure up.It’s taken me over a decade to acquire this knowledge. Like you, I’d been noticing the unmistakable signs of my advancing age: an ever-increasing number of wrinkles, skin sagging around my neck (and other places), cellulite on my legs (yuck), bags under my eyes that seem to keep getting heavier. I could go on, but I don’t think I need to–we all deal with these things.I drank lots of water, followed a healthy diet, and tried to exercise regularly, but while those steps helped, they didn’t seem to be enough. I didn’t want to go the cosmetic surgery route. I knew there had to be good anti aging skin care products available that would really help to rejuvenate my skin.I finally found them. And in the process, here’s what I learned from my anti aging skin care review.1) A good anti aging skin care system does not use fragrances.Most fragrances are actually chemicals. If you have sensitive skin, like I do, a lot of these fragrances can irritate your skin.I also learned that many common fragrances can even impact your central nervous system, influencing your moods–and not in a good way. Who would have thought that merely putting on a cream that smells good can actually make you irritable because of the questionable ingredients it contains?In my anti aging skin care review research, I found a few skin care products that are 100% fragrance-free. I’ve been using them ever since.2) An anti aging skin care system should be clinically proven to work.Popular skin care brands usually try to convince us of the efficacy of their products by having glamorous Hollywood actresses claim Product X is responsible for their ageless beauty. But how about less hype, and more scientifically verifiable evidence?My research led me to an anti aging product that has been clinically proven to increase skin elasticity by 42% over an 18 day period. Greater skin elasticity equals fewer wrinkles, and smoother, more youthful looking skin.Look for skin care products backed up by facts–not Hollywood hype.3) An anti aging skin care system should use a high concentration of active ingredients.While conducting my anti aging skin care review, I found that many of the well-known cosmetic brands that I’d been using for years contained only scant amounts of active ingredients.These active ingredients are important–the more included in a skin care product, the greater its potency. But a lot of skin care treatments use mostly synthetic waxes and fillers, substances that have no impact whatsoever in rejuvenating your skin.I recommend using only products that have an active ingredients composition of at least 50%. Admittedly, that’s a high percentage, but such anti aging skin care systems do exist.Your next step? Start using the lessons I learned during my anti aging skin care review, and visit my web site to find out more about the natural skin care methods I personally use, and highly recommend.