Working with this alliance of two UK police forces, we challenged fixed mindsets to deliver significant process-led improvements and a future-proof model for shared services that could deliver more as technology investment came into place.
Our client, consisting of two allied police forces, had set out to dramatically transform their support operations. The current model involved a one-to-one ratio of support staff to police officers so it was clear that a more efficient way forward was needed.
The remit was part of a much wider project looking at all aspects of the operations. Whilst a lot of work was being taken on in-house, the client recognised they needed to bring in an understanding of external best practice to redesign the shared service centre model. This is something we specialise in. Having been involved in so many shared service centre projects within different industries, we can pick from different approaches and experiences depending on the needs of the client.
Our aim was to redesign the forces’ shared services with processes that would build in accountability, reduce manual effort and create significant cost savings.
We looked at three main areas:
‘Hire to Retire’ – all HR transactional processes for the lifecycle of an employee.
‘Procure to Pay’ – all processes involved from an officer requesting a piece of equipment through to paying the supplier.
‘Record to Report’ – all processes around capturing and reporting financial information to the senior Commissioners and Board.
Changing mindsets was undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges we came across.
The team members had been in the depths of the problem for so long and were so caught up in the detail of the processes that we needed to help them to think differently about possible solutions.
There had also been an under-investment in technology where budgets had been repeatedly cut in previous years. New technology was being planned in as part of the wider project but was not scheduled to be in place within the next two years.
What we delivered
Lean action workshops
Mapped the current processes then brought subject matter experts together and helped the team to look objectively at the steps involved.
Worked together to highlight opportunities for improvement including areas of inefficiency, multiple checks/rechecks, manual entry and manipulation of data.
Gained respect through the level of relevant experience and expertise of our practitioners.
Took the SMEs away from their day-to-day environment and tasks to make it easier to look at the challenges differently.
Shared best practice examples from other successful shared service centres and coached the individuals involved to come up with solutions that would work for them.
Simple but effective solutions and future-proof design
Focussed on process-led changes including introducing metrics to build in accountability for delivery.
Worked with the tools available to create simple adjustments that would make a big difference, for example using lookups, macros and checks in Excel to replace manual entry.
Created an extended proposal to show how the benefits could be enhanced once the investment in technology was in place, including opportunities for Robotic Process Automation.
The design work resulted in a new shared services model with a clear business case that was signed off for implementation. Having overcome initial resistance, we were able to open eyes of the teams involved. Once they could see their current processes end-to-end they started to question the inefficiencies and could see how a more systematic approach could make a big difference.
The new approach created an overall time saving of twenty percent that will be translated into cost savings and headcount reduction. In addition there were clear benefits for the teams involved in terms of less repetitive manual work, lower error rates and fewer re-work requirements.
Going forwards there is stronger accountability and a clear plan for the future. The new model will be easier to migrate to the new technology platform when it is in place, which will in turn deliver further savings. Several of our tools and techniques have been taken on board by the in-house consulting team and are now being applied more widely within the project.