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.

Baby Skin Care – Treating Cradle Cap and Nappy Rash Naturally

According to Loyola University, the average one-month-old baby is bathed four times each week and shampooed three times. Commercial Baby Skin Care Products are loaded with chemicals, fragrances and detergents that dry out sensitive skin and often cause skin rashes in babies and young children. As a result more products are applied with a further de-hydrating affect on your precious baby’s skin. For a natural approach to Baby Skin Care newborn babies need only an occasional bath in warm water and no soap or shampoo is needed. If you are treating cradle cap, nappy rash or skin rashes in babies, then use only natural baby skin care products.We recommend looking after your baby’s skin with Natural Products that are organic relief for your baby’s skin and scalp and won’t dry out skin. Baby skin care products should have a pH 5.5 and be free of Sodium Lauryl sulphate, soap agents and fragrances.Over 75 percent of newborn babies get nappy rash within the first months after birth. Nappy Rash most commonly occurs due to bacteria and detergent residues that are not completely rinsed off when nappies are changed and/or washed. It is important to keep your baby’s sensitive skin clean and well hydrated and if nappy rash does occur, we feel natural skin care products and natural treatment of nappy rash and skin rashes in babies is imperative, giving your baby the best organic start in life.The standard medical treatment for skin rashes and nappy rash is cortisone cream. Fortunately, some paediatricians prefer not use such strong steroids purely for cosmetic reasons. Try Pure Organic Aloe Vera to nourish, moisturise and protect your baby’s sensitive skin. Organic Aloe Vera will gently re-hydrate the most sensitive skin, without fragrance, colour, SLS or gelling agent added. Apply with every diaper/nappy change and don’t rub in; allow a few minutes to dry. The lotion will absorb naturally and allow for much loved nappy free time. We recommend washing the nappy area with clean water each diaper/nappy change then patting dry before applying Aloe Vera lotion. Without a powder base this baby skin care treatment insures no concerns of inhalation. Apply a barrier cream to protect your baby’s sensitive skin. A natural baby skin care barrier cream protects against further dehydration and assists in keeping nappy rash and skin rashes in babies at bay. Apply with every diaper/nappy change.Aloe Vera has a pH factor very close to that of the skin and it helps to restore the skin to its natural pH. Six antiseptics naturally contained in Aloe Vera soothe nappy rash, baby skin rashes, inflammation and irritated skin and reduce the chance of further infection. Aloe Vera is a mild anaesthetic, antibacterial & antifungal, containing anti-inflammatory fatty acids. These components have shown to assist in relieving itching, swelling, redness and pain. Aloe Vera is a natural moisturiser, fragrance and oil free, perfect for baby skin care products and treating cradle cap, nappy rash and other skin rashes in babies.Cradle Cap is a thick, yellowish, crusty rash that forms on the scalp and sometimes the eyebrows of babies. Cradle Cap can be found on newborn babies skin, on toddler scalps and if persistent cradle cap can still be found on pre-schoolers. Cradle Cap is not dangerous, only unsightly. Cradle Cap in babies and young children is caused partly by an over production of oil. We suggest, if harsh detergents are used in baby care products and used daily, the bodies natural oil production is stimulated to counter act the drying effects of these so called ‘gentle’ baby care products. Instead, apply Aloe Vera products directly onto the skin, just a fine mist at a time but apply regularly to soften cradle cap crusts, then after bathing rub gently with a towel or a soft hair brush to remove cradle cap crusts. Several attempts may be needed.Organic Aloe Vera Natural Skin Care Products [http://www.naturalskinandbeauty.com/natural-skin-care-products-with-aloe-vera] are ideal for baby skin care. Aloe Vera is natural skin treatment that will gently re-hydrate the most sensitive baby skin. Aloe Vera will cleanse, repair, moisturise and protect the most sensitive skin without fear of petroleum by products, SLS, fragrance, colour, gelling agents or fillers added.

Fashion Development – A Historical Exposition

Fashion has been an age long phenomenon that has always surfaced in every human society across the world. Human beings all over the world have great need to cover themselves and also makeup in order to look good. Fashion trends have always showcased in every nation on a regular basis. Different kinds of fashion accessories and other fashion related products have continued to be in great demand all over the world.Actually, fashion development has been a progressive thing. Generally, the term fashion refers to popular styles and practices seen in the area of clothing, makeup, footwear, furniture and accessories. However, the term mainly refers to clothing, makeup and accessories when considered in a strict sense. The development of fashion can be considered in four major phases namely, ancient, medieval, industrial revolution and contemporary phases. Let’s examine each phase.Ancient Phase
Fashion development in the ancient phase dates back to the pre-historic era when people made use of local materials in producing the cloths they put on. In those days, animal skin and fur were mainly used. This was seen in ancient historical era of various cultures of the world. In the ancient era, cultural traditions influence the kind of styles and patterns used in the production of local wears. There was no widely accepted pattern or approach used. Clothing materials were either homemade or handmade.Medieval Phase
The medieval phase in fashion development made a great impact in the history of fashion all over world. The era witnessed the emergence of local tailors and other dressmakers who used local fabrics in the production of different kinds of fashion attires. Fashion production in the period continued to improve from one level to the other. The renaissance period of 14th to 16th centuries that marked the end of the middle ages also made great impact in fashion development. During this period, great ideas about fashion started springing up in the lives of great men and women who later become famous fashion designers.Industrial Revolution Phase
Fashion development got a huge boost during the period of industrial revolution that swept across Europe and America in the 18th century. It was a great period of change which saw the introduction of diverse methods of production. There was a widespread adoption of diverse kinds of industrial methods of mass production in the era. Mass production of fashion products became the order of the day in the period. Several big fashion firms emerged both in Europe and in the US during the era. Diverse kind of approaches and patters were also introduced in fashion production during the period. Several attires, wears and fashion accessories were also produced. Great fashion designers also emerged during the era.The Contemporary Phase
After the industrial revolution, the contemporary period came to the fore. It all started in the early 20th century and also entered into the modern day era as well. Fashion development in this era has actually reached its pinnacle. The world is now witnessing the establishment of fashion plants in various countries. Great manufacturers of fashion products have also emerged. Sophisticated sewing machines and other tools have been invented for mass production of fashion products. Diverse kinds of approaches and patterns are also introduced in the fashion industry. Many countries now import and also export fashion products.In all, fashion development is indeed a continuous process. It moves from one stage to the order. The world is now witnessing the development of fashion in the ever dynamic internet technology. Lots of fashion designers and their companies now operate online. The future is indeed very bright for fashion production across the world.