A Brave New World
Thames Valley Police is the largest non-metropolitan police force in England and Wales. It has approximately 3850 Police Officers, and 1750 Civilian Support Staff. Its functions range from providing Police Officers on the beat, visible policing using horses, dogs and marked cars to crime detection, covert surveillance and protection work. The Thames Valley has more miles of motorway to police than any other Force, about 2.2 million residents, and numerous visitors passing through everyday.
As a modern police service Thames Valley Police relies increasingly on the use of Technology to support its core business, including the use of Computers, Telephony and Radio Communications.
The information and Communication Technology group (ICT Group) is involved with a number of Force-wide projects at the moment, including the roll out of Windows 2000 to our 6000 computer users, rationalizing our Control Rooms and creating new Police Enquiry Centers for the Force’s first point of contact with its customers. There are a significant number of projects going on, and we need to be able to provide good first line support for all these new systems. More long term, we’re working on the national project which will change radio systems from analogue to digital, which will ultimately extend the technology available to the Police Officer on the beat.
During 2001, the Force employed Management Consultants, Deloitte & Touche, to investigate and assess, amongst other things, the way ICT Group provided support for Computing, Telecommunication and Radio Communications to its customers. A number of recommendations were made, including the formation of a brand new, independent ICT Customer Services Department, reporting directly to the Head of the ICT Group.
As the ICT Group Customer Services Manager, my task is to lead the exciting project, which will ultimately create a brand new department from the ground up, aiming to provide a first class service to staff within Thames Valley Police.The first stage of the implementation project can be broadly broken down into three main areas – People, Environment and Tools.
Concentrating on the People element led us to review the service as it was being provided at the time. We had helpdesk functions with our Computer Services, Telecommunications and Radio Communications departments, all working in slightly different ways, and all covering different hours. We made the decision to open our new Customer Services Department from 07:00-22:00 Monday to Friday, and 09:00-17:00 at weekends. We had five staff transferring from the old system to the new department, but clearly this wasn’t going to be enough!
We worked with Hays IT Recruitment Consultants on a national campaign to recruit the staff we needed. Hays organized the advertising, the shortlisting, and the Assessment Days. We needed to ensure that the people we were appointing were able to work under pressure, and to collaborate with their colleagues, so we asked the people we interviewed to participate in team games, psychometric tests, presentations, and two stage interviews. It was a hard day, both for the candidates, and the interviewers, but we’re very pleased with the results.
Having decided on the numbers of people we had to house, the task of creating the right Environment was a bit clearer. Premises within our Computing block had been identified for us, so the challenge was to equip them. Because of the numbers of staff, the space available, and our shift system, it was clear that our only real option was to work with hot-desking. The Force’s Property Services and Procurement departments gave us a lot of help ensuring that the paint was fresh, and that appropriate and comfortable furniture was purchased. We’ve installed good lighting and air conditioning and it’s a pleasant place to work. However, there were hiccups along the way, for example, the furniture arrived four days after the staff did – but it was a character building experience for us all!
So, having found the people, and somewhere to put them, we had to have the Tools to work with. We desperately needed to replace our outdated Helpdesk software, and went through a procurement programme which led to our purchase of Axios assyst. We’re embroiled on the last stages of implementation at the moment, and are very much looking forward to the facilities that it’s going to provide for the whole of the ICT Group. It’s certainly going to give us the means to help maintain and improve our customer focus.
We’ve also invested in a new ACD system, Symposium Express. We are now able to get good reports on our call levels, numbers of abandoned calls etc. We have a wall board in the Call Center which enables the Team Leaders to keep an eye on what’s going on. It’s a good motivator, but it’s essential that we don’t become slaves to the statistics, but look at situations holistically.
My view is that the most important part of the project is the People. It’s important to me that everyone in the Department enjoys their work as much as I do. I want their job, to be a job that I would want to do – if I’m not prepared to do it, why should I expect anyone else to? It is a tough call, reactive work is very stressful, but we have taken care to get the right people, put them in a good environment, and give them the tools that they need to do their job.
We also depend heavily on our colleagues in second line support in the other departments, and we get excellent support from them all.
We’re getting towards the end of the first phase of the project, and time will tell how successful these foundations have been. We’re calling it a “Brave New World” – it is, and it’s very exciting!
Axios Systems is a leading provider of Best Practice-based IT Service Management (ITSM) solutions. Our customer-centric approach combined with our award-winning solutions, ensure customers worldwide can align their Service and Support organizations with the overall business goals. Our core solution, assyst, intuitively steers users through the ITIL® processes. Axios Global Services provides a range of consulting, project management and training services. Our commitment to Best Practice is demonstrated through being the first to achieve BS 15000 certification which has now become, ISO/IEC 20000, the International standard for ITSM. Axios is headquartered in the UK, with offices across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific.