Slicker processes integral to performance improvement

Research among senior figures at a recent police conference showed that 94 per cent of UK forces believe that slicker processes are integral to achieving the myriad of performance improvements they currently face.

Jul 3, 2008
By Paul Jacques
Graeme Biggar

Research among senior figures at a recent police conference showed that 94 per cent of UK forces believe that slicker processes are integral to achieving the myriad of performance improvements they currently face.

Traditional spreadsheets and statistics might still be favoured by around a fifth of all UK police forces to process performance improvement – with a similar number going a step further with specialist business process improvement projects – but a shift towards hi-tech simulation solutions is gathering pace.

Essentially, simulation modelling technology creates a virtual model of a particular scenario or process, allowing users to identify bottlenecks in the system and how these can be avoided. For example, simulation technology can recreate an existing process, identify inefficiencies and suggest changes which will minimise these inefficiencies and improve productivity. All this can be demonstrated in a highly accurate simulation model before a ‘real life’ solution needs to be deployed. The high predictive value of the software allows users to make ‘real life’ changes with great confidence, and reduces the risk of failed decisions and wasted costs.

Ninety-five per cent of police forces believe simulation software will become increasingly important as a process improvement tool in the next two years:

•One in four (24 per cent) believe that it has the greatest potential to improve criminal investigations.
•Seventeen per cent feel that custody management stands to benefit most.
•Thirteen per cent believe that call handling and incident response functions would benefit from simulation technology.

Kevin Sheehy, head of police and criminal justice practice at business process improvement company Lanner Group, said: “It is reassuring that police forces recognise the importance of process optimisation in driving performance improvement. But as forces face squeezed budgets and escalating performance targets, it is imperative that projects are cost effective and that results are assured.

“While spreadsheets have a role to play in improving processes, they cannot compute the high volumes of dynamic variables necessary to make superior decisions. Through mapping out business process change in a virtual environment, simulation can help forces to ascertain the most effective approach to a problem, de-risk decisions and drive down costs while boosting productivity.

“Lanner’s latest simulation solution, PRISM, is designed specifically for the demands placed upon police forces and can optimise processes to drive performance improvements in a matter of weeks.”

Simulation and modelling technologies are currently being used in some form by all 43 police forces in England and Wales to build business cases which can prove an outcome prior to significant investment being made. By doing so, this also reduces excessive bureaucracy as there is no need to go through several layers of red tape to secure a decision. Business processes where this approach has already been successful have spanned many areas including improving incident response times, calculating optimum shift patterns and speeding up forensic end-to-end processes.

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