Design & implementation of the Forensic Management Information Tool
Benefits for the business as a result of delivering this solution include:
- Direct, usually automated, data capture from suppliers saving Police & Home Office management time to collect and collate data
- Monthly data uploads gives access to ‘live’ information on all case histories
- Easy user access from any device with an internet connection, no special hardware or software is required
- Improved contract management and performance monitoring through detailed analysis of the data (e.g. turnaround times, correct contractual allocations, price variations, national spend, savings and market shares)
- Allows good practice examples to be shared across the UK’s police services
- Complies with Information Assurance National Policing Accreditation protocols
Background to the project
Private sector companies now provide all the forensic laboratory services for the police service. The overall management of these companies and the forensic marketplace in general, is undertaken by the Home Office Forensic Marketplace management team (FMMT).
Accurate and timely management information is a vital element of the contract management and critical for the FMMT to fulfil its role. Timely provision of forensic evidence is also vital to the success of many criminal investigations, for which the forensic companies support The performance of the forensic science contract delivery therefore needs to be closely monitored to ensure that contracted service levels are met.
Understanding cost variances and ensuring services are priced and delivered correctly also helps ensure that police forces receive value for money at a time when they are under increasing financial pressures.
Process Evolution, a partner of Argenta were approached in 2006 by the West Coast Consortium of Forces (WCC) to develop system for effective management of the delivery of the initial contracts. In 2007 the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), now part of the Home office, commissioned the further development of that initial system into a fully-fledged national management information solution to enable both teams to manage their contracts effectively and to allow the Home Office team to monitor the overall forensic marketplace on a national basis.
Argenta continue to work with the Home Office to develop and maintain the system.
"The development of FMIT has not been easy but now that we have a working system in place it is difficult to see how we ever managed before. It has quickly become a very useful system indeed and paying dividends in helping manage the national forensic marketplace. A close working partnership has developed with Process Evolution/Jeff Woodhams whom I have found to be very knowledgeable, proactive, extremely flexible in approach and a joy to work with."
Head of Forensic Marketplace Management Team, Home Office Commercial Directorate
The FMIT is based on a relational database which enables it to capture and store the large volume of data required. This data includes a great deal of detail relating to each submission including the type of material submitted, number of exhibits, timing and type of services provided, the outcome of the analysis and cost. As part of their contract, suppliers need to be able to provide the necessary data in a predefined format on a monthly basis.
FMIT is web-based so that users in the management team as well as suppliers can gain access to it without the need for specialist equipment. The majority of suppliers extract data from their internal management system and upload it directly to FMIT using a dedicated portal. This process includes stringent validation so that the data in the system is as accurate as possible.
Once the data has been entered into the system it is available for analysis and reporting by the management team users. The main feature of the system is the ability to run bespoke queries and present the results graphically. Data can be filtered based on parameters such as date range, lot, supplier, force and outcome.
There are a series of options which enable the users to select different ways of grouping and colour coding the results. Results can be saved as image files or the data exported to Excel.
Above: Outcome of the forensic tests
Above: Performance by department tracked over time
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