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BTP finds savings in IT refresh

Sade Laja Published 05 May 2011

BTP finds savings in IT refresh

How British Transport Police has made significant efficiency savings through exploiting the potential of its service desk technology

Before British Transport Police (BTP) implemented its service desk system the organisation had no clear way of viewing staff performance.

It had a legacy system which chief technology officer Cliff Cunningham describes as a "very basic Access database", which struggled to deal with the information on 5,000 employees and more than 2,000 service desk calls each month. It was impossible to assess how much time staff were spending on specific incidents, or drill down to details to discover why some employees were taking longer than others in their responses.

Cliff Cunningham, the organisation's chief technology officer, says this has changed since the implementation of a service desk system with business process management technology in 2006.

The decision to move to a newer system was part of a major refresh at the body. BTP gets its capital from the Department for Transport, and was given "a sum of money" to carry out a refresh of all of its desktops and servers.

"It gave us a fresh impetus as an organisation and obviously getting that new kit and having that sum of money meant that the estate grew, so there is a bigger requirement to manage it more effectively," he says.

"In terms of the (IT) department, obviously it has enabled us to improve our efficiency and service," he says. "And also, the way we have tailored the system, I can now tell how much time people are spending on incidents."

He says this has been particularly important: "If two people are dealing with the same sort of incident why is one taking a lot longer than the other? It gives you the information you need to delve a bit deeper and understand whether there are training issues, whether the incident is not being recorded properly, or if the person spending too much time on other bits."

As well as using the system, which was provided by ICCM Solutions, to examine staff performance, BTP has used it to improve communications between its 145 sites. Being able to change the workflow of the new system to suit the specific requirements at the organisation has helped this process, explains Cunningham.

It has also been used to identify the potential for savings by reducing the travelling time between locations and through the virtualisation of desktops and the IT facilities of remote offices.

"It's trying to do more with less and that's one of the reasons we've gone down the virtualisation route," he says. "We can't afford to keep our physical servers. I will not buy a physical server unless it can be justified. Everything we do, we're looking at how to make it more cost-effective."

Cunningham says that although it is difficult to quantify exactly how much has been saved, he has no doubt that it has made the force more effective and efficient, and that this is particularly important in the current financial climate for the public sector.

BTP has also used the technology to automate a large chunk of its services including requests for CCTV footage, for which a frontline police officer was previously needed to make the request, own it and then present information as part of a criminal case. This is now done through an automated BPM tracking process owned by an administrative staff member.

The organisation is also working on a project to develop electronic timesheets, as part of a plan to spread the BPM platform to as many different parts of the organisation as possible. "There are a number of manual processes we have that are very paper bound and are inefficient," Cunningham says. "Whereas if I could automate them and build in all the auditing functions, and the checking, and the authorities, then obviously it is a big gain for us in terms of productivity."

He admits that despite the success of the tool, it has taken staff at the organisation a bit of time to adapt, but insists that it was worth the effort.

"It's a slow process, but once you get to a number of successes it sort of picks up its own momentum," he says. "The trick is to get them to understand what they want, then we can look at what the best solution is."

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