What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

The results of this past election proved once again that the Democrats had a golden opportunity to capitalize on the failings of the Trump Presidency but, fell short of a nation wide mandate. A mandate to seize the gauntlet of the progressive movement that Senator Sanders through down a little over four years ago. The opportunities were there from the very beginning even before this pandemic struck. In their failing to educate the public of the consequences of continued Congressional gridlock, conservatism, and what National Economic Reform’s Ten Articles of Confederation would do led to the results that are playing out today.. More Congressional gridlock, more conservatism and more suffering of millions of Americans are the direct consequences of the Democrats failure to communicate and educate the public. Educate the public that a progressive agenda is necessary to pull the United States out of this Pandemic, and restore this nations health and vitality.

It was the DNC’s intent in this election to only focus on the Trump Administration. They failed to grasp the urgency of the times. They also failed to communicate with the public about the dire conditions millions have been and still are facing even before the Pandemic. The billions of dollars funneled into campaign coffers should have been used to educate the voting public that creating a unified coalition would bring sweeping reforms that are so desperately needed. The reality of what transpired in a year and a half of political campaigning those billions of dollars only created more animosity and division polarizing one extreme over another.

One can remember back in 1992 Ross Perot used his own funds to go on national TV to educate the public on the dire ramifications of not addressing our national debt. That same approach should have been used during this election cycle. By using the medium of television to communicate and educate the public is the most effective way in communicating and educating the public. Had the Biden campaign and the DNC used their resources in this way the results we ae seeing today would have not created the potential for more gridlock in our government. The opportunity was there to educate the public of safety protocols during the siege of this pandemic and how National Economic Reform’s Ten Articles of Confederation provides the necessary progressive reforms that will propel the United States out of the abyss of debt and restore our economy. Restoring our economy so that every American will have the means and the availability of financial and economic security.

The failure of the Democratic party since 2016 has been recruiting a Presidential Candidate who many felt was questionable and more conservative signals that the results of today has not met with the desired results the Democratic party wanted. Then again? By not fully communicating and not educating the public on the merits of a unified progressive platform has left the United States transfixed in our greatest divides since the Civil War. This writers support of Senator Bernie Sanders is well documented. Since 2015 he has laid the groundwork for progressive reforms. He also has the foundations on which these reforms can deliver the goods as they say. But, what did the DNC do, they purposely went out of their way to engineer a candidate who was more in tune with the status-quo of the DNC. They failed to communicate to the public in educating all of us on the ways our lives would be better served with a progressive agenda that was the benchmark of Senators Sanders Presidential campaign and his Our Revolution movement. And this is way there is still really no progress in creating a less toxic environment in Washington and around the country.

Guide to Right Investments

As an individual we all have targets and set goals in our finances, hence adequate information to the right investment is very important. Considering the fact that good investments help us to actualize our objectives in our education, career, capital projects, family needs, etc, then it’s imperative for us to understand these investments.Presently, we are faced with the recovery of the economy after experiencing the global economic meltdown for more than two years of economic impasse. In most African countries, especially Nigeria do not seem to get on a good start as the government has limited funds to inject into the economy (Capital market) unlike other developed nations of the world are currently doing. Therefore, there’s a need for us to make the right decision at this trying period. There are different types of Investments available to us; Savings, Insurance, Bonds, Equities and Stocks, FOREX, Real Estates, Importation and Exportation, and what have you. These may sound interesting, but we must look before we make decisions in our chosen investments.For most people, making the right investment decision can be a tough one. They assume that you need enough money to venture into a lucrative business. It is always a good idea to do some research before you can make a decision as to what you want to invest in. This is better achieved the most when you gather information on your type of investment because you want to make the right investments that would work best for you. It is financially wise for you to know the investment basics so that you will be in a position to have variety of choices. Is this where the use of funds comes in? It is advisable that you use your savings especially if you plan to invest in long term. Moreover, you do not need a lot to get into investing though; you can use your monthly savings and investing consistently. The Stocks and shares option is one of the most popular and profitable business.Also investing in Insurance policy is another guaranteed way of investing without having fear for drop in market price. Unlike the stock market, Insurance is a sure way of getting your money back with a certain accumulated interest over a stipulated period of time that is if there have not been any occurrences before the maturity date. This however, would be discussed exclusively in my subsequent articles.The mutual fund investment option is yet another form of investing whereby organizations collect money from different individuals and use it to venture into suitable quoted company stock at the right time.This reduces your risk of losing money since you are not directly investing in the stock market. You should look out for all loop holes and engage the services of a financial expert to help you make suitable investment choices.Before we delve into the various investments stated above properly, there is a need to highlight the basic Principles of Investments that would be our guide to a successful venture. I shall discuss 5 of these proven principles that would guide us through;The first investment principle we must know is to get the foundation right of any investments plan and all the hiccups we envisaged or encountered would be checked. The problem most people have is that they try to solve their challenges from the surface. It is easy for one to quickly take a pain relieving tablets to stop his toothache problems without knowing the cause. Alright let’s look at our business transactions as an instance. A growing businessman borrows money from his fellow business men to build his business venture. By doing this overtime he became heavily indebted. But in order to be free from his indebtedness, he quickly pays his debts without ever considering the fact that his greatest weakness could be poor financial (money) management. In Nigeria today, an average 60 percent of the population are into entrepreneurship in one business or the other yet most of them have little idea of their venture which accounts for low returns in profit every quarter. This dismay performance could only be attributed to their poor knowledge of the said business, hence the business foundation is lacking. In addressing such situations, understanding the roots of these investments
would place us on the driver’s sit to know where and how to make great returns on our investmentsThe second principle simply tells us to set values in our investments’ plan and life goals generally as a yard stick to take us to our desired expectations. Values are internal anchors we set ahead of time to guide us in time of decisions making. It is also important to note that in our individual offices and business places, values we set for ourselves would determine the future and success of our careers and business ventures. According to Hamel, G. in “Rethinking the basis for Competition” in (Gibson, R (ed) Re-thinking The Future, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London pp. 76-92 he says that “the big challenge in creating the future is not predicting the future. Instead, the goal is to try to imagine a future that is plausible – a future that you create based on values.” As matter of fact, we must place great values on our investments and businesses for it to grow beyond limits.On the third principles of investments, we must draw out our investments plans and strategy. One does not expect a high dividend as a return on your investments from a quoted company if you don’t invest well on that company. In any investment we do, there is need to know the strategy to adopt in getting good returns. Let’s look at the stock market for instance, you would not be foolish to invest in First Bank PLC in the Nigerian Stock Exchange that has reached its’ bullish state when you know most investors are bailing out after a period of planting then smiling to the banks for a good investment. You have to understand the investment first (foundation) then adopt a particular plan or strategy that would suit it for a stipulated period. That is why; Sun Tzu, great author, posits that “the General who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought while the General who losses make but few calculations beforehand”. You should know that whatever plans or strategy you make does not really guarantee you success as it may not suit the kind of investments you are into but get the right information to guide you through. Hence, you are advised to invest in financial books, business tips or any investment instruments to put you ahead of your contemporaries. By doing this, you must have drawn an investment philosophy that includes your; aim, period, returns and interest of your investments.The fourth Principles would centre on our spiritual strength in business. Knowing that sometimes we face all sorts of problems and setbacks in our investments or business activities, we may not have the physical power to overcome them. To be realistic, we need to look up to God by committing our businesses in His hands irrespective of our religion or faith. According to the Book of Proverbs; “If God can see everything in the world of the dead, he can also see in our hearts.” If we commit our ways to God, He would direct our paths. We should always seek Him when faced with any problems. I also suggest you renew your minds with great spiritual and inspirational materials. Great authors like; T.D. Jakes, John Mason, Joyce Meryce, Mathew Ashimolowo, Dale Carnegie, etc have wonderful works that can nourish our soul and make us achievers even in the face of adversity. You would find out that what you consider as problems are not problems, but some stumbling blocks you encountered as challenges to your road to success.The last Principles of investments which is the fifth, has to do with you as an individual. As a child while growing up, we all aspired to be one great professional in our chosen field. That’s the reason why Education could be adjudged as the highest form of investment. I must say that that most professionals or CEOs these days don’t utilize five percent of their brain. With the latest technologies at our finger tips, we seldom use our brain to work even getting the least calculations. Knowledge they say is power. The more knowledge we acquire, the more resourceful we become in affecting our lives positively. We have to invest in ourselves to improve on our business ideas and skills as change is inevitable. To buttress this point, let’s look at Romans 12:2; “and be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God”. Please make it a habit to invest huge part of your income on your brain and mind, as it’s such an investment that you would receive a 100% returns.Remember, knowledge is part of the key to all successful businesses. Follow these basic principles of investments guide and you would be amazed how your business would grow in greater profits.

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.