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.

Construction Management Jobs for Felons – How To Get a High Paying Construction Job

Job opportunities for felons are often few and far between. To increase your chances of getting the best jobs for felons, you should choose an industry that is unrelated to your felony and where jobs are in high demand. It is also helpful to choose a profession, such as construction management jobs for felons, where you can be self-employed.Construction administration jobs for felons are also known as project management or construction project management. Managers in this field are trained to oversee the planning, design and actual building of construction projects.It is a very promising field of study right now because the employment opportunities for these managers is expected to exceed the number of qualified workers from now through 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This high demand and shortage of trained construction managers means that there are many job opportunities for felons available in construction management.What kinds of jobs for felons are available in construction management?Job opportunities for felons include construction estimating, construction safety, construction project management and building code compliance. The construction manager’s duties include keeping an eye on the big picture and making sure that the construction project is completed on time, does not go over the budget, meets quality standards and conforms to building codes. If the construction project is quite large, there will be many construction managers working on different tasks.To be a good construction administrator, you have to like working with people. You will have to work not just with the owner-client but also with architects, construction workers, subcontractors, quantity surveyors, health inspectors, safety inspectors and other such people. Construction management may be a good choice for you if you are a good communicator who loves leadership roles. This is not the right career for shy people.Also, since problems are bound to crop up with both large and small-scale construction projects, you need to be able to keep your cool while under pressure. Decisiveness and self-confidence are the two most important qualities that a construction developer should have.Construction Management Jobs for FelonsConstruction management is suitable for ex-felons because it is a job that is in high demand due to the shortage of qualified and experienced managers. This is also the type of job where people care more about experience and results than your felony.Additionally, managers can be self-employed which is a good idea for ex-felons who are finding it hard to get employment. Most constructing managers work on a contract basis since construction projects are contract-based. However, it is also possible to get a salaried job within a construction company if you prefer a more stable type of job.Since this is a managerial job, the pay is higher than average so this is a good career choice for those who are looking for high-paying job opportunities for felons.Jobs for Felons: How to Get a Job in Construction ManagementConstruction education comes in two basic forms: one-year associate degrees and four-year baccalaureate degrees. Nowadays, many colleges also offer online courses as well as on-campus courses.Generally, managers will either start at entry-level or mid-level jobs after graduation. Another career path that is popular for ex-felons is to work in construction and then take night or online classes to get a management degree in construction. This helps them get a promotion to a management or supervisory position.It is also possible to specialize in certain construction projects which may improve your employability if these specialties are in demand. For example, some construction companies specialize in the restoration of historic homes and buildings. Experience or expertise in a specialized type of construction is quite valuable and makes getting the best jobs for felons easier.Construction management jobs are projected to grow rapidly in the next few years so it is a good career choice for people looking for job opportunities for felons. A degree in construction management will greatly help you to land a job in construction project management. These managerial jobs for felons pay well but they are suitable only for those who are willing to put up with the stress of leadership roles.

How to Get the Very Best From Your Payday Loan, and the Pitfalls You Should Avoid

We all know what it’s like to run out of money before pay day. If you do not have savings, or someone who can help you out with a little cash, running short of money can be really stressful, and a difficult situation to cope with. Daily expenses to get to work, money for the kids, or unexpected bills can crop up at any time, and if there’s no cash what should you do?For some people, a Payday loan can provide a solution to their temporary cash shortage.Here are some tips to help you get the best from a Payday loan, and a few words of advice on some pitfalls to avoid.If you decide to take out a Payday loan, spend some time researching to find the best lender. They should have a good reputation as a fair lender and have all the necessary licences. Don’t be tempted to borrow from a lender that is not properly registered, this can be dangerous, as your rights may not be fully protected. If you are unsure, you can check if the lender is licenced and registered to operate as a private lender who is offering Payday loans.Consider your monthly wage and your regular expenses when you are calculating how much you can afford to borrow. Remember that the loan is repaid in full on your next payday, so only borrow what you know you can afford. If you make sure you will not be short of cash the following month, you’ll find Payday loans are much easier to use, and helpful to you.Payday loans are short term forms of credit, so do not use them to deal with long term debts or low income problems. It is never advisable to borrow money to pay existing debts. This can lead to a debt spiral that can be extremely difficult to resolve. Payday loans are best used purely as a solution to a very short term need for a small amount of cash. As long as you know you can afford to repay it, and you only borrow what you can afford, you will have no problems.Only work with a trusted lender. Unfortunately, there are still dishonest lenders around, although the authorities are gradually stamping them out. The best advice is to be cautious. This decision affects your money and your financial future, so only deal with a company you feel comfortable with. Ask around for recommendations, and check online for genuine feedback about a lender. It won’t take long to find bad reviews if the company is not reputable. Using a fair lender who treats customers with courtesy and respect, and who will make the entire process of applying, and borrowing money, much easier, and stress free.Over 2 million people use Payday loans successfully every year and this figure is increasing. There is no doubt that used wisely. Payday loans can be a useful way to access money quickly. Bad lenders, unfair lending practices, and a lack of understanding about these loans, have all contributed to giving them a great deal of bad press. However,the truth is, they are formal credit agreements, have been around for many years, and when operated by reputable lenders, they are perfectly reasonable ways to access emergency money.If you are considering a Payday loan to help you until you are next paid, take some time to find the right lender for you, and then make sure they answer all your questions. Your application will not take long to process, and it will be stress free if you follow our simple tips.
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