Performance Management, Analytics and Business Intelligence: Best Practice Insights from the Police


Covering an area of 860 square miles with a population of about 610,000, Durham Constabulary is responsible for policing County Durham and Darlington within the North East region of England. Led by an Executive Team, headed by Chief Constable Jon Stoddart, policing is provided through five functional commands: Tasking and Co- ordination, Crime and Justice, Response Policing, Neighbourhood Policing, and Support Services. Durham Constabulary's workforce comprises about 1370 officer and 950 police staff. 

Delivering to a Strategic Vision 

Delivering exceptional policing services anchors to the force's vision, 'Durham Constabulary will deliver excellent policing to inspire confidence in the people we serve by protecting neighbourhoods, tackling criminals and solving problems around the clock'. Underpinning this vision is the statement that the constabulary is 'proud of our staff and proud to deliver value for money policing in County Durham and Darlington'. As with other UK public sector organizations contending with the present, and deep, spending cuts, the commitment to deliver 'value for money,' policing provides the constabulary with a raft of performance management challenges and opportunities. That said, prior to the 2010 spending review (1) that ushered in the current Government-wide efficiency drive, Durham Constabulary had already commenced major restructuring and reengineering programmes to create more cost-effective customer-focused policing services. For instance, amongst other outcomes, a Durham Process Improvement Programme analyzed critical value streams and removed much rework and duplication across the constabulary. "This led to significant changes to how we worked and delivered about £4 million in efficiency savings," says Gillian Porter, Durham Constabulary's Head of Performance and Analysis, adding that such successes will help the organization respond to today's economic realities. "It's very much about gaining clarity around what are not priority deliverables and what, from the citizens and victims viewpoint are the absolute 'must-do's'." 

Strategy Execution Challenges 

Despite its successes, during 2010 Durham Constabulary's senior team was becoming increasingly aware that it was still facing a number of performance management challenges, not least around strategy execution. The organization had in place a Strategic Assessment process that although comprehensive and detailed was only partially effective. "It didn't totally drive the business," recalls Porter. "We would identify and cascade strategic goals deep inside the organizations, but we struggled to get real deliverables or set actions that could hold people to account." The constabulary had a corporate wheel which had been developed in line with a national police performance framework, similar to the Tesco model (2) but as people tended towards working in silos the focus was on their own sections of the wheel and so tended not to develop total strategic buy-in around what the organization needed to excel at and how the various strategic goals and action fitted together. As a further performance constraint, as with other organizations many of Durham Constabulary influential leaders worked to different management styles: consequently, there were attempts to enforce a 'one-size-fits-all, strategy management process' that, Porter comments, disengaged rather than engaged the leadership. As a result, there was a desire to streamline the strategy management process and gain consensus, awareness and buy-in as to what the constabulary was doing and just as importantly - why. The steer from DCC Michael Barton was for a plan on a single page. 

The Road to a Plan on a Page 

The origins of the transformation to a new strategy management process that would overcome the performance management issues actually began in late 2009 when a Police Superintendent attended a management course and returned with the principles of strategy mapping, through which critical strategic objectives are laid out in a cause and effect map visualized on one page. Then, in mid-2010, Porter attended a public workshop conducted by Bernard Marr of the Advanced Performance Institute (API). "During this course "the penny dropped," recalls Porter. "We could envision

how the described Plan on a Page strategic mapping and management approach could help us overcome our silo thinking, leadership issues and the general feeling that strategy was little more than a once-a-year dust-off." At the request of Porter, Several months later Marr made a presentation of the Plan on a Page framework and methodology to the constabulary's senior team. With buy-in from the team secured - most importantly from the Chief Constable - API was engaged to facilitate the building and implementation of corporate and devolved Plans on a Page. But given the spending challenges faced by all UK public sector bodies, a non-negotiable deliverable was that at the end of the consulting exercise, Durham Constabulary had to be capable of continuing the work without ongoing external support. "We had to be self-sufficient at the end of the process," says Porter. "Therefore, API paid close attention to ensuring that requisite training, mentoring and shadowing, etc., were woven into the programme." 

Plan on a Page explained 

Durham Constabulary's Plan on a Page is shown in Figure 1. Such is the importance of this strategic map that Chief Constable Stoddart simply says: "It's how we do our business." Visually the map describes how Durham Constabulary will deliver to its articulated vision whilst simultaneously delivering value for money. The 'vision' performance perspectives are shown horizontally on the map, with the aligned 'value for money,' perspective is shown vertically. The top horizontal section (or perspective) of the map articulates what the organization needs to be good at (its core deliverables). These are captured in four strategic objectives, such as 'provide effective and efficient service response,' and 'tackle criminality.' 'Our Finance,' is one of two supporting value for money objectives, with 'balance our budgets,' as a core goal. The next level on the map describes what will help the organization to deliver what it needs to be good at. Known as the 'enabling factors,' four objectives have been identified, including 'create a citizens focus,' and 'reinforce an 'aim for excellence,' culture.' 'Our Project Management,' is one of two value for money objectives. Finally, at the base of the map we find 'How we Align our Resources,' which comprise three strategic objectives, including 'our staff,' and 'our IT systems'. 'Our Resources,' is the one value for money objective. 

Creating the Plan 

Creating the corporate Plan on a Page followed API's strategy mapping methodology. This began with Marr conducting confidential one-to-one interviews with the senior team plus several other key stakeholders, such as staff representatives. Confidentiality ensured that interviewees felt comfortable to express their views fully and honestly. Structured questions probed areas such as what the interviewee felt was important to the constabulary, what they felt the organization was good at and they perceived as the key challenges. In a workshop setting, a version of the Plan was presented to the senior team and some amendments were made. Changes included altering some of the wording to resonate better with the constabulary's culture. Following senior management approval, the Plan was then taken to management groups who made further minor alterations. Finally, a number of staff forums were run throughout the organization to build awareness and also highlight any other issues re the objectives and the wording. Given the pre-requisite that Durham Constabulary was able to manage the process post consultancy support it is important to note that these forums were conducted under the control of the Strategic Development Manager and facilitated by the organization's own staff, which had been previously trained by API. Porter stresses the value of closely involving managers and staff in the Plan on a Page creation process. "As people contributed to the exercise on an individual level they felt a sense of ownership, and they understood the linkages, which made a huge difference in securing the buy-in", she says. "Also the senior team felt they had a unifying framework that still enabled them to manage according to their own personal styles." 

Using Key Performance Questions and Key Performance Indicators 

Conventionally, with the strategic map formulated the next step is to move directly to the identification of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). With the selection of appropriate KPIs being a notoriously complex challenge API has pioneered the usage of Key Performance Questions (KPQs), which Porter finds to be "hugely powerful," as an approach for better ensuring that metrics are strongly aligned to strategic objectives. As a brief description, a KPQ focuses on and highlights what the organization needs to know in terms of executing existing strategic objectives. KPQs enable a full and focused discussion on how well the organization is delivering to these objectives and serve as an important bridge between organizational goals and KPIs. Indeed KPQs are used to provide a performance context to KPIs and help to more effectively prioritize the indicators chosen. As Porter comments, "KPIs are still vitally important within the constabulary, but the KPQs put these metrics into context. Sometimes aspects of policing are difficult to put into straight numbers; however there's a tendency to measure things that are easy to collect data against and performance can get skewed as a result. She adds that indicators can be dangerous things, especially when you get hung up on targets. "Now the focus is moving to identifying solutions rather than just performance against the indicators. It's becoming more about the conversation than the numbers." As an illustration of how KPQs help convert strategic objectives into KPIs within Durham Constabulary, consider the objective 'Tackle Criminality.' This has three supporting KPQs, including 'How well do we prevent people from becoming criminals,' which is assisted in being answered through a KPI that measures the 'number of first time entrants as a percentage of all persons arrested,' as well as KPIs around reoffending rates and the percentage of the population who are offenders. The link to professional investigations and effective problem solving is made in these discussions, and is a key focus for the other core deliverables. A further example is provided by the objective 'Create a Citizen Focus'. Of the three supporting KPQs, one asks 'how well are staff focusing on [community] needs'. Answers are provided by a survey-based KPI that asks 'how confident are you in your local police force,' and 'percentage of people who believe that they can influence what issues the Police prioritize in [their] community.' Note too that ensuring that the constabulary is focusing on the right 'needs' is dealt with a further Create a Citizen Focus KPQ that asks 'how well do we understand what makes up our communities and their needs.' 

Business Change Projects and Strategic Actions 

With the Plan on a Page and supporting KPQs and KPIs in place, the next step is to select the strategic initiatives that will drive performance forward to the successful realization of the strategic objectives. Within Durham Constabulary there are two levels of initiatives. At the corporate level there are what are called the 'business change' projects, an example of which is the development of Blue Delta, which in phase 1 is a system form managing the constabulary's most prolific and priority offenders. At a devolved level, each department has a set of strategic actions that they must deliver to. The building of the Plan on a Page had a significant impact on how initiatives are chosen within the constabulary. "We visited all of our various plans and ensured that any strategic action that went forward had to be justified against the objectives and KPQs," says Porter, who adds that in year one of the Plan on a Page they were quite prescriptive on which performance areas departments should focus on. The change projects, however, were largely kept in track. "Most of the major change projects that were already quite established with clear outcomes," she says. 

Cascading the Plan 

With the corporate strategy management system in place, the constabulary then began the process of devolving the Plan on a Page to lower levels. Crucially the cascade process was managed by Durham Constabulary staff, in keeping with the knowledge transfer success criteria. Each of the constabulary's five commands now has its own Plan on a Page that is fully aligned with the strategic direction captured on the corporate plan, while also identifying and working to local requirements. Plans have also been created for the four safer neighbourhood areas as well as for the National Special Constabulary, or 'Specials' for which ACC Michael Banks is the lead (a part-time police force that is attached to each UK constabulary and is made up of volunteer members of the public). As a powerful measure of the success of the process, Porter and the Head of Finance and ICT within the constabulary has created a Plan on a Page for a voluntary organization. Presently the cascade is being extended to below the command level. "The cascade has been an interesting challenge," comments Porter. "We have perhaps been a touch more prescriptive than we should have been, but that has been purposeful so that we can garner constabulary-wide awareness of the corporate plan and to encourage staff to move away from silo thinking and the focusing on pet projects that are not strategically aligned." In the strategy ''refresh' planned for early 2012 the focus will be less prescriptive, thus allowing devolved units to identify what they need to be good at and what their key deliverables are. "With the awareness of the overall corporate strategic goals now well ingrained, there is greater freedom for devolved units to focus more squarely on their own needs." 

The Importance of Communication 

Building strategic awareness across the constabulary involved a sustained communication programme. This included articles within the organization's in-house magazine 'Copper Plate,' as well as highlighting the Plan on a Page within internal documents. The use of posters also played an important role, as Porter explains. "We put posters showing the Plan on a Page everywhere throughout the organization (see example below), such as offices and corridors: this ensured that everyone would see it and it proved very useful in gaining market penetration." As well as communicating awareness of the Plan on a Page, Durham Constabulary also pays attention to communicating performance to the Plan. Each department has a quarterly review and conversation that considers performance to the Plan and strategic actions. In addition, monthly meetings are held that considers risks and threats against the core deliverable and there are also weekly 'wash- up' meeting where these deliverables are reviewed at local levels and that analyzes the success of the tactics used to implement the plans.

Performance Analysis and Police Intelligence 

More broadly of course, performance analysis (or intelligence) is a significant strategic imperative for the constabulary, as underscored by several corporate objectives, such as 'manage and use our knowledge - collect, share, analyze and develop good quality data 'within the enabling section that causally impacts all four objectives within the core deliverables perspective. Recently, how intelligence is collected and analyzed within the constabulary has been substantially restructured, as Porter explains. "Until 2009 we had a corporate development unit which included strategic planning and performance management. We also had a Force Intelligence Bureau. We found that when we merged these units into a Task and Coordination Command we removed a lot of duplication and confusion," she says. "We now have three teams, one is focused on knowledge data capture, another on performance analyses from tactical to strategic levels and a third that converts this analysis into strategic action and consultation." It is, she adds, "joined-up policing from local to strategic levels." Porter can point to numerous examples of how improved data gathering and analysis has improved performance outcomes, especially when understood against KPQs. For instance, consider the following example against the 'Create a Citizens Focus' objective and the three KPQs of 'how well do we understand who makes up our communities and their needs,' 'how well are staff focusing on these needs', and 'how effective are we at communicating what we do.' "We looked not so much at performance to established targets but at which detection methods our victims most urgently wanted us to action. Not surprisingly it was personal areas - you have stolen something from me or you have hurt me," explains Porter. "We realized, probably not surprisingly, that these are the priority areas that our public wanted us to focus on. As a result of analysis we launched focused interventions that led to our achieving around a 40% detection rate, which is amongst the very highest nationally and a massive increase in the 2009 figures, which hovered around 28%." As a further example, the constabulary completed a major research effort into better understanding of the communication expectations of victims of crimes. As background, when a police officer investigates a burglary on site they will know in about 72 hours the strength of the forensic evidence, if any, and the likelihood of detection. Historically, at that point they would visit the victim and explain what they have done and what they have discovered. Although the focused site investigation over the first few days is right and proper and good practice, this does not necessary resonate with when victims benefit most from communications, as research found. "In reality by the end of three days the victim hasn't had time for grieving - they haven't come to terms with the distressing experience," explains Porter. "We found that they require feedback at 21 or 30 days because that is the timescale that victims generally need to come to terms with what has happened to them. As a result, the victims were saying they were not receiving proper feedback, whilst the Police Officers said that they were indeed communicating, which was true according to the process of that time. Porter also points to this as being another example of the value of KPQs. "Just by starting to unpick the right questions we found that our officers' perception around communication and the victims were quite different." This, she says, was a "light bulb moment." Durham Constabulary now communicates and provides feedback at the times that best resonate with the victim's requirements "Even if the Police Officer only says what they would have said two weeks earlier the timing is still better for the victims," says Porter, As yet another example of improving intelligence, Porter and her team has developed an excel-based system called Durham Constabulary Organizational Performance (DCOP). This enables, as one example, performance to be analyzed so to understand if any variations to performance can be attributed to reasons such as normal seasonal change or is significant and requires interventions at a local or even corporate level. "We can make informed choices based on analysis that tell us that yes performance to a target has fallen by 10% but it's not significant so there's no need to do anything about it."

Conclusion and Critical Success Factors 

Porter is certain that the Plan on the Page has delivered huge performance dividends to Durham Constabulary. "It crystallized our thinking," she says. "Previously, we were making good progress but the strategic plan or vision was very detailed and lacked focus, as a result there was not insignificant confusion over what was important for us to deliver to and what citizens expected from us. Now we are clear as to our priorities and this is translated right down the organization." As a measure of how the Plan on a Page is more focused than the previous approach, the corporate Plan-on-a-Page describes the strategy in one page rather than the previous 14, incorporates 120 actions to be prioritized instead of 5,000 and 120 performance indicators, 440 fewer than its predecessor. "We have also gained buy-in to the strategy at all levels and staff can see now see how their daily work is aligned to the strategic goals of the constabulary," Porter continues. "Most importantly, we have seen real, citizen-focused performance improvements." However, Porter stressed that there are several critical success factors for succeeding with a strategic management approach such as Plan on a Page. The first is leadership, about which she is unequivocal in her advice. "It's pointless doing it if you haven't got the buy-in from the leadership, especially the most senior executive, in our case the Chief Constable. Without senior level buy-in the whole effort will be a waste of time." The second CSF is, she says, patience and tenacity. "You also can't do this if you don't take the organization with you, so it's vital to build awareness, buy-in and commitment from people at each level. This is something to which we have paid very close attention." 

Bernard Marr is a globally regognized big data and analytics expert. He is a best-selling business author, keynote speaker and consultant in strategy, performance management, analytics, KPIs and big data. He helps companies to better manage, measure, report and analyse performance.
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