If you’re not assessing you’re guessing: the value of an evidence based approach to strategic resource allocation

There are signs at my gym, that say ‘If you’re not assessing you’re guessing’. It’s something that is easy to ignore in your personal life, but in a business context measurement is becoming mission critical. At the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales (PSAEW) Annual Conference last week, there’s been considerable talk about stretched resources – starting with the opening speech from the President of the Association, Gareth Thomas.

“I suggest we have a perfect storm developing, comprised of fewer resources, reduced public services, new threats, and a worrying increase in some types of traditional crime. If the model for delivering policing services in the future is fewer people, working longer, each doing ever more, then I suggest that model is fundamentally flawed.”

Other presentations and conversations also highlighted the fatigue officers are feeling from heavy workloads and indeed 72.2% of respondents to the 2017 Police Federation Pay and Morale Survey said that their workload had increased in the last year.

With talk of fewer resources and overworked officers and teams, the importance of measurement takes another dimension, with forces needing to have access to the evidence which not only enables them to clearly understand the impact of changing demand and resource levels for budgeting purposes, but also helps them to balance the welfare of officers.

For the team at Cleveland Police, this ‘Evidence Based approach to strategic resource allocation’ is something that they’ve been working on for some time. In one of the breakout sessions at the PSAEW Conference Brian Thomas, Assistant Chief Officer at Cleveland Police shared his force’s story about the great strides they’ve taken in organisational planning and how this has had a huge impact in working with teams across the force to take some of the stress out of resource decision making.

Supported by a new tool, PrediKt developed in conjunction with Sopra Steria, Brian and his team are able to operate in a more informed way.

He shared three areas where the force is now regularly using PrediKt:

Reality testing – Validating actual performance against planned performance. It is giving an evidence base to quickly identify what teams are busy doing and, through a dashboard, they have information which highlights automatically when teams’ actual workload is outstripping their resource. An example is when Neighbourhood teams are recording a greater percentage of response work and less time on preventative activities. The force is now able investigate the reasons behind the inconsistency and put action plans in place to resolve the issue.

Evidence based resource planning – moving from examining performance at an individual team level, here Cleveland Police are now able to examine resourcing at an organisational level and look at different scenarios based around the changing shape of crime, for example the impact of an increase in domestic burglary and how resources can be reallocated across the Force to ensure the workload is balanced across all teams and crime types.

Futures planning – the final example was to examine a resource profile change and identify what future resource profiling could look like if we need to increase training days per annum for example to comply with new statutory course requirements. A further example was what would be the impact of reducing officer numbers.

It’s clear that workload isn’t decreasing, as NPCC Chief Sara Thornton told the conference, ‘everybody knows what police should do more of; few say what we could do less of’. The final presentations also brought home the reality of cyber crime and the changing nature of crime, which will have a huge impact on policing and resourcing in the future.

It’s a world where forces really should be ‘assessing and not guessing’.

Getting a formal evidence base will transform resourcing so forces can truly assess the impact of changes to demand and resource levels, as well as helping to balance the welfare of officers.

Find more about PrediKt, Sopra Steria’s Police Resource and Demand Modelling Tool or contact me by email.

My new year’s resolution… is to stick to resolutions

How are your New Year’s resolutions going? So far I’ve been struggling. In fact I haven’t even started some of them! I’m thinking that maybe 1st March is a good time to begin.

Every year I have a general ambition to begin the year afresh, be more organised and manage my time and my finances more effectively.  It always starts with a list which I religiously write in a nice, new notebook. The debate this year with my finances has been around how much money I’ll choose to save for my forth-coming wedding and on the flip side what therefore has to go? The handbag I have been coveting and stroking in Selfridges for a while or the daily lattes?

It’s the same with my time – too much to do with too few hours. Exercising more is probably on a lot of people’s lists, including mine and my dog’s, so is spending more time with elderly relatives (my list not the hound’s).  But going out for that run and then having cakes with my Aunt Alice (in itself counterproductive) means that time spent on other chores and activities will need to reduce.

This got me thinking that all this juggling isn’t too different to the way that organisations have to manage their valuable resources. Although unlike my New Year’s resolutions, their planning isn’t optional.  In the business world there are systems and processes to support such important decisions and in policing we have created a system for Resource and Demand Management to ensure that a Police Force’s resources are deployed in the right place to achieve maximum benefit whilst minimising any negative impact on other areas of the business.

Our Resource and Demand Modelling tool simulates potential changes to operational services and enables a Force to understand what the impact would be of for example, reducing officer numbers managing road traffic incidents and increasing those protecting vulnerable people.

In summary, it helps them to understand demand, threat, risk and harm and to allocate resources to the greatest priority.

I recently presented the solution to a number of sectors across Sopra Steria at our annual kick off meeting in Paris. The feedback confirmed my thinking that the model can be easily and effectively used in other organisations, e.g. recruitment or health and cross-sector. As an example, if there is a fall in the number of mental health nurses, what impact will that have on calls into a control room?

What do you think? Leave a reply below or contact me by email.

I’m now back to thinking about cakes or running? I know which is going to come out on top.