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.

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.

10 Ways To Boost Your Credit Score

1. Deleting Errors in 48 HoursThis is the absolute fastest way to correct errors on your credit
report and raise your credit score. However, it can only be done
through a mortgage company or a bank. If you apply for a home
loan and find errors on your credit report, request the loan
officer to conduct a Rapid Rescore. But don’t mistake it for the
credit clinic tactic of multiple dispute letters.The Rapid Rescore strategy requires proper paperwork. You need
proof that the item is incorrect. It must come from the creditor
directly. For example, a letter stating the account is not your
account, a letter stating the account was paid satisfactorily,
a release of lien, a satisfaction of judgment, a bankruptcy
discharge, a letter for deletion of collection account or any
relevant evidence.This is the same documentation a bank or mortgage company would
require for the credit accounts anyways. The difference is, now
you can improve your credit score and receive a lower interest
rate. The results are not guaranteed and will run you about $50
per account.2. Deleting Negative CreditThis is the infamous area where you’ve heard of all the scams.
Credit repair clinics charge “an arm and a leg” and promise a
clean credit report. Sometimes even a new credit profile! People
spending hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for something
they can do themselves.Removing errors is simple. Deleting negative credit that is
accurate requires advanced methods. But that is not the scope
of this report. So I’ll focus on the deleting the negative
errors.Credit report errors easily disappear by using a simple dispute
letter. If you have the paperwork proving the error as mentioned
above in Rapid Rescore, send copies of that along with the
dispute letter. This will make the credit bureau’s job easier and
you will get faster results.If you don’t have the documentation to prove the error(s), send
the dispute letter anyway. According to federal law, the credit
bureau’s have a “reasonable time” to validate your claim. They
will contact the creditor for verification of your dispute. Then
the account will be reported accurately – or deleted. It has been
generally accepted the “reasonable time” to complete this task is
30 days.If you’re not the do-it-yourself kind of person. Or don’t have
the time. You could hire someone who is very economical.3. PiggyBack Someone’s CreditThis is a fast and great little credit score booster. But it
requires a very trusting relationship. Simply put, someone else
adds you to their credit account. For example, when applying for
a credit card, you may have seen the section to add a card holder.
If your trusting person adds you, their payment history is now
reported on your credit report too. If they have perfect credit,
now you have a perfect account.To make this more effective, use an aged account. Imagine if your
trusted person has a 10 year old credit card account with a
perfect payment history and a balance of only 50% of the credit
limit. Wouldn’t you love to have this on your credit report? The
easy part is your trusted person just calls the credit card
company and requests a form to add a cardholder. Once completed
and activated, their entire account history and future is now
firmly planted on your account. Imagine if you secured 3-5 of
these accounts – especially installment accounts. Your credit
score could sky-rocket!The challenging part? Finding the trusted person. Since you already
have a low credit score and bad credit, how eager will someone be
to make you a cardholder? Even your parents don’t want you to
damage their credit. But, no one says you need to possess the card!
In other words, your trusted person could add you as a card holder
and never give you the card or PIN or any information. Since the
bills and all account information is still mailed to the trusted
person’s address, you won’t know anything about the account. This
scenario could land you many trusted persons. And you still benefit
with a higher credit score.4. Playing Round RobinThis strategy is one of the oldest credit building techniques
around. It used to be accomplished with secured savings accounts.
But now, it’s much easier with secured credit cards. In fact,
I’ve used this method myself.Here’s how it works: Take ,000 (or what you can afford) and get
a secured credit card. Once received, get a cash advance of 70%
of your credit limit. Get a second secured credit card. Once
received, get a cash advance of 70% of your credit limit. Get a
third secured credit card. Once received, get a cash advance of
70% of your credit limit.Open a new checking account with the final cash advance. Use this
account only for making payments on your three new credit cards.
If you make your payments on time every month, your credit score
will increase because you now have three new perfect payment
credit cards. (Initially, your credit score might drop a few
points due to the rapid, multiple accounts being opened. However,
be patient because within 4 months of no new accounts or any
delinquencies of any account, you will see your credit score
increase. Mine increased 60 points in 60 days!!)5. Pay on TimeThis one is quite obvious. But after 12.5 years in the mortgage
business, I discovered it still needs repeating. Your creditors
were gracious enough to loan you money. Now pay your damn bills!
If you don’t, your credit score decreases. EVEN IF ONLY 30 DAYS
LATE!That’s right folks. For some reason people think, “I’m only a
few weeks late. What’s the big deal?” Well, for the loan company,
if you pay late but consistent, they make a lot more money with
late fees and more interest (if a simple interest loan). For you,
your credit score is damaged. If you think long-term and credit
score, I’m certain you would not have a cavalier attitude.6. Pay Down DebtsThis seems like an obvious method, doesn’t it? But it is not as
transparent as you might think. Remember, we’re playing with
high-level statistics and probabilities which evaluates and
forecasts trends in your behavior. Here’s what you do…Never pay off your revolving debt in it’s entirety! Isn’t that a
surprise? Think about it. Your credit score is a reflection of
your ability to manage your credit. Paying off your debt is not
managing your debt. If you have a zero balance, how can you manage
it? You don’t. It no longer exists. And you cannot manage what
does not exist, right? Therefore, in terms of credit score, you
have demonstrated your ability to swiftly pay off accounts to
avoid managing them. Thus, slightly decreasing your credit score.One exception, of course, is if you’re over extended to begin
with. Pay off what’s necessary to make your credit profile look
great. Then manage the remaining credit.7. Don’t Close AccountsEven if you pay off revolving debts, do not close the account.
The longer an account is open with no negative reports, the
better it reflects in your overall credit score. This is due to
the weighted-average in the credit score formula. Many credit
experts suggest a balance of 30% of your credit limit. That’s
ideal. But you can go as high as 70% and still maintain a
healthy credit score.8. No New CreditYou must be vigilant in your credit behavior if you want the best
credit score. Therefore, do not get any new credit unless it is
absolutely necessary. Each time you apply for credit, an inquiry
is added to your report. This usually drops your credit score
slightly. When you have fresh credit, there is no track record
how you will manage (or pay) this account. Therefore, it’s a
higher risk which results in a minor drop in your credit score.
Remember, your credit score is about risk assessment.Here’s what you do: obtain credit for your housing, transportation,
college or continued education and 3-5 credit cards. That’s really
all you need for personal credit. If you want more credit, request
a credit limit increase on your current cards rather than apply
for new ones.9. Maintain A Mix of Credit TypesIf you show you can handle different types of credit at the same
time, you are rewarded with a great credit score. In other words,
get installment loans like vehicle, personal loan or mortgage.
Get revolving credit like credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, Sears,
Sunoco Gas, Costco. By mixing it up, you demonstrate you can
manage your credit because you will have short term and long term
credit with a fixed payment. As well as a “variable” monthly
payment on your credit cards.Keep these accounts open with a balance of 70% or less and paid
on time and you will witness your credit score climb to great
heights.10. Don’t File Bankruptcy or ForeclosureHere’s the most obvious advice: Don’t file for bankruptcy or
foreclosure. These stay on your credit report for 10 years and
always decrease your credit score. The older the bankruptcy or
foreclosure account becomes, coupled with re-built credit
history, the less of an impact they play on your credit score.Contrary to popular beliefs, you can legally delete a bankruptcy
and foreclosure. It’s not easy. But it’s possible. See the
advanced methods for that solution.To quickly rebuild your credit history after a bankruptcy or
foreclosure, use the Round Robin strategy above and get secured
credit cards. Now you can even get a car loan or mortgage right
after bankruptcy.© 2004 David Czach.——– Editor’s Note ———-Dave Czach has 12 years experience in the mortgage business and
a Bachelor’s Degree in Real Estate. He can be reached at
http://myLoanHero.com/go.cgi/daveczach.This article may be reprinted without compensation provided
there are no changes whatsoever to the article, the copyright
notice and the complete Editor’s Note. Any reprinting or
duplication without these conditions is copyright infringement.——– Editor’s Note ———-