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.

Impact Of Nutrition On Nations Produtivity And Healthy Growth

Nigeria has greatly improved socio-economically unlike her past years. The problem of malnutrition still cut across some of her citizens. She has been long hobbled by political instability, corruption, inadequate infrastructure and poor macro-economic management. This has led her to over dependence on the capital-intensive oil sector, which provides 20% of GDP, 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and about 65% of budgetary revenue. But certain governmental and economic reformation has brought about a lot of improvement ranging from an estimated increase in her GDP from $430 per capita in 2003 to $1,000 in 2005. Reducing the unemployment rate from 3.2% in 1997 to 2.9% in 2005. The adoption of micro-finance banking, and bank liquidation and consolidation by the CBN, resulted in the rating of Nigerian banks as one of the best in Africa. The peak of the whole thing was the historic debt-relief of $30 billion worth from the $37 billion own by Nigeria to the Paris Club in March 2006.In spite of all these recent development, 70% of Nigerians are still under the alienating hands of malnutrition and 60% in 2000 below poverty line. I have categorized the Nigerian nutritional problem for the sake of clarification into undernutrition, overnutrition and micronutrition. The purpose of this article is to review the government effort and also suggest ways of emanating the country from the alienating hands of poverty that threatens the country’s future.NUTRITIONAL PROBLEMS.
Though the three nutritional problems make up a summary of the country’s problem of malnutrition, it will be good to review the whole problem one after the other. Undernutrition is of the greatest nutritional problem that stricken mostly people in the rural areas and some of those who went to the city in search of greener pasture. Undernutrition is characterized by inadequate intake of macro-nutrients (namely: calories and protein). According to the president Obasanjo, “almost half of children ages 7+-13 in Nigeria are underweight”. A lot of children and adults go to bed starved, some take one meal a day and most of these meals are carbohydrates. This leads to malnutrition and protein deficiency. It is the main cause of kwashiorkor which is more unique to people living in the tropical African region. For adults, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.79g per Kg (0.36g per 1b) of body weight each day. For children and infants this RDA is doubled and tripled, respectively, because of their rapid growth. This is the root cause of stunted growth and deformation in growing children. One-fifth of Nigerian children die before the age of five, primarily from millions of Nigerians are also living below one dollar a day, others live by begging for food on the streets.Overnutrition is mainly the problem of adults and few adolescents especially the urban dwellers. It is a rapidly escalating public nutrition problem, principally reflecting shift in dietary patterns and more sedimentary lifestyles. The situation in Nigeria where economy favor a particular group than others, the poor gets poorer while the rich gets richer had brought about a higher percentage of overnutrition- Nigerian big man disease. This nutritional problem is now in an alarming rise in diet-related chronic disease such as type II diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and several diet-related cancers. These chronic diseases accounted for human suffering, social distress, loss of productivity, and economic burden to the health and other economic sectors. The increase in population obsessed in the country affects the country’s labour force and the productivity of the country both at present and in the near future.The last but not the list is micronutrient deficiencies. It is the inadequate intake of key vitamins and minerals. It is both experienced by the poor and the rich, rural and urban dwellers. It is hunger hidden under the guise of sufficiency in Nigerian society. Lack of vitamins and minerals results in irreversible impairment to child physical and mental development. That is why this type of malnutrition is centered on pregnant women and children. According to some empirical conclusions, it is observed that even moderate iodine deficiency during foetal development and infancy has been shown to depress intelligence quotient levels by 10-15 points. Folic acid deficiency is linked to serious birth defects. Inadequate iron affects children’s growth and learning ability, and reduces their ability to concentrate, fully participate in school and society interacts and develops; it also contributes to material mortality and lowered workforce productivity. It is on record that 40% of children under 5years of age suffers vitamin A deficiency.The three major nutritional problem in Nigeria place a great challenge on the country’s faltering economy has led to declining imports of costly protein-rich food, oil and animal feed. Many parents now abandon the task of breast-feeding and all this and many others contribute to the risk of malnutrition in Nigeria and more so now she is undergoing a rapid socioeconomic revolution.GOVERNMENT ACTION PRIOR TO DEMOCRACY
Nigeria economy was dominated by Agriculture and trade, which flourished during the colonial rule in 19th century. In 1960s and 1970s the petroleum industry developed and prompted greatly increased export earnings and allowing massive investments in industry, agriculture, infrastructure and social science.The sharp decline in oil prices, economic mismanagement, and continued military rule characterized Nigeria in the 1980s. In 1983, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) began providing assistance to the Nigerian Federal and State Ministries of Health to develop and implement programs in family planning and child survival. In 1992, an HIV/AIDS prevention and control program was added to existing health activities USAID committed $135 million to bilateral assistance programs for the period of 1986 to 1996 as Nigeria undertook an initially successful Structural Adjustment program, but later abandoned it. Plans to commit $150 million in assistance from 1993 to 2003 were interrupted by strains in U.S.-Nigeria relations over human right abuses, the failed transition to democracy, and a lack of cooperation from the Nigerian Government on anti-narcotics trafficking issues. By the mid-1990s, these problems resulted in the curtailment of USAID activities that might benefit the military government. Existing health programs were redesigned to focus on working through grassroots Nigerian non-governmental organizations and community groups.In 1987, The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), under the principal Researcher Dr Kenton Dashiell, launched an ambiguous effort in Nigeria to combat widespread malnutrition. They encouraged the use of nutrients, economical soybeans in everyday food. They further said that soybeans are about 40% protein-rich than any of the common vegetable or animal food sources found in Africa. With the addition of maize, rice and other cereals to the soybeans, the resulting protein meets the standard of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Soybeans also contain about 20% oil, which is 85% unsaturated and cholesterol free. Though a lot of nice programs for malnutrition alleviation started at this period, there were a lot of other socio-economic thorns that hindered the popularity and proper functioning of these programs till the democratic period. The economic instability within this period favored malnutrition to a great extent due to autocratic government. There was little or no in-depth effort to fight malnutrition. The period can be identified as the egoistic period- when the governmental private interest dominated at the expense of the suffering masses.THE LATER INTERVENTION
The most interesting part of this period is that it is characterized by promise and hope. Promise which is the chief working tool of this period and hope ever present to sustain the promise. The president Obasanjo in 2002 meeting with the president International Union of Nutritional Sciences promised to support a better coordination of nutritional activities and programs in Nigeria, he further said, “the high prevalence of malnutrition is totally unacceptable to this government and he assured the IUNS president that he would do everything possible to ensure that resources are available to improve household food security, greater access to healthcare services and better caring capacity by mothers including support for breast feeding promotion.On the 27th September 2005, Nigerian president chief Olusegun Obasanjo lunched the Nasarawa state school feeding program at the Laminga primary school. The program is fully funded and administered by the state of Nasarawa, which makes it a unique model in Africa today. The epoch making event is in fulfillment of one of the promises of combating malnutrition especially among children whom he observed that many at the age of 7-13years are underweight. He further promise to reach out about 27million children during the coming 10years.Other international bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO), The United Nation International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which began in 1992 but took more root during democratic regime. All of them and many more are fighting acidly to eradicate poverty and malnutrition.There are a lot of challenges that exist in some nutrition improvement programs. There is the need for the government to place some nutritional research into the national policy. They should be able to reach out to the nook and cranny of the country. They should be able to coordinating all the sectors of anti-malnutrition agencies. A more effective intervention is very much needed.Nutrition is now an interventional issues a stake and as well the unavoidable duty of each nation. Though it is difficult to bring solution to every man’s door but the government should try as much as possible to reach people through, mobile agencies, and mass media. There should be a lot of effective research conducted in the nation to be updated with information such as; average government investment in nutrition per capital, current statues of nutrition deficiencies, and information on nutrition initiatives, as well as national policy frameworks and interagency coordination mechanisms. There is need to promote nutritional organisation especially, non-governmental organisation. The government should try to improve the socio-economic life of the people. Agriculture should be encouraged and improved in the country. There should be a check on the nutritional value of every product both imported and non-imported product. The Government should promote a global nutrition agenda, which would increase nutrition’s visibility at national levels and beyond.If these above suggested solution would be taken into account, Nigeria would improve to a heavy extent as the giant of Africa and future giant of the world economy, thereby clearing the future storm of economy facing Nigeria because of some of her citizens suffering from nutritional problems.

Men’s Wholesale Clothing – Cool Tips That Will Surely Boost Your Online Sales

Despite of the perception of many people that men do not like to shop but the fact is, men can be really discerning shoppers because they want to obtain that stylish, quality, and assortment of wardrobe so as to establish an image. Regardless of the purpose of their clothing, be it for office work, play or for casual, it plays a vital role in their lives as these represent their outlook and personality.In addition to have a good-looking appearance, men also want to have the best deals as much as it is possible. This means that when it comes to men’s wholesale clothing, it should be a combination of style and price. Many of them do prefer to have the privacy of shopping, this is where an online men’s wholesale clothing business will fill that need. That is why among the numerous opportunities in the Internet to generate income and revenue, a wholesale clothing business dedicated for men’s clothes is among the best to consider. Establishing an online men’s wholesale clothing business requires certain steps for you take and tips for you to consider. These are all important so that you will be able to put up that clothing business successfully.Particularly with the stock of men’s apparel for you to sell, it is vital that you get a reputable and reliable supplier. Since the suppliers commonly ship in large quantities therefore you are be assured of ample supply, stylish supply of clothing at price that is very reasonable which you can sell also at very reasonable rate.Typically, men are not after for bulk orders, perhaps they are just looking for a suit, workout gear or jacket. This is an important thing for you to consider in your business, therefore it is better to know and sell items according to individual costumers’ need and want. Here are some other cool tips that will surely help you with your online men’s wholesale clothing business.1. Once you order from the supplier, keep in your mind season changes and the delivery cycle, these should all coincide significantly. Meaning you need to be sure that once your supplier delivers the clothing in the month of December, those items should be in accordance with the Christmas season. You certainly do not want to sell summer clothing during Christmas or vise versa.
2. If you want to consider becoming a retailer associated with a particular brand label or manufacturer, then you need to choose a supplier or suppliers with an already established good image such as known to deliver goods in utmost quality to its customers.
3. As much as you can, establish a closer tie with your supplier so as to obtain great deals or offers. In return, you can also offer your own costumers exciting deals that they will surely love and would be a motivation for them to keep coming back to your site. Since your target market is the male clothing, great deals will surely be a big hit in your business.