Meet Andy – Management Information Technical Consultant
How long have you been in your role at Thames Valley Police, and can you explain what your typical day would look like?
I’ve been with TVP since 2009 and in my current role for about 11 years. Prior to coming here I worked for Staffordshire Police and before that Devon and Cornwall.
A typical day starts at 7:15am. We have quite a few overnight processes that tidy the data we rely on, so the day begins with ensuring they have run and checking for any emails that have come in since the previous day. I then stop about 8:45am to walk my dog before starting again at 9:30am. I have a call with the team where we discuss priorities for the day. Then I will do report development either for reports I have been assigned, or assisting one of my team with their work. I will often have Teams meetings across the day with colleagues in ICT or with business leads who are waiting on reports from us, the former to provide us with technical support, the latter to discuss requirements and progress. I finish work at 3pm each day to be available for my kids when they come home from school. Then on Mondays I work in the evening to make up my hours. I find that time ideal for getting into the weeds of issues/developments as there are fewer distractions.
What sort of information do you work with, and how do you use that information within your role?
My team work with most data sources within TVP but primarily crime and incident data. We extract the data from the core systems, do some tidying work to overcome data quality challenges and then present it as management information for both senior managers and practitioners to make informed decisions. We use SAP Business Objects and Microsoft’s Power platform (particularly Power BI, but also Power Apps and Power Automate) to achieve this as well as VBA coding.
Can you give us an example of a project you’ve been part of, and how has your work contributed to it?
I provided the technical solution to enable Op Encompass to work. This operation identifies school aged children that may have witnessed a domestic incident in the last 24 hours and sends an email to their school giving the staff a heads up that the child may need additional support. I set up the report that extracts the data from our systems automatically each morning and the tool which uses that data to generate emails and the attached letters to schools. In the six years the operation has been going over 26,000 letters have been sent to schools relating to over 15,000 children. I hope in some small way that will have positively impacted some of those children who are experiencing traumatic events in their lives.
What sort of challenges do you come across in your role, and how do you overcome them?
My role is part line manager and part developer, so balancing those two can be a challenge. Regular contact with the team and planning of workloads helps to ensure I can dedicate appropriate time to both elements. Ring fencing some “do not disturb” time (those Monday evenings for example) helps as well.
What qualities (technical or personal) make a good Technical Consultant?
A lot of the role involves being a bridge between non-technical people in the business side and very technical people on the ICT side. Often the business user will only have a rough idea of what they require and limited knowledge as to how feasible that will be to achieve. Part of my role (and that of my team) is to tease out more detail to the requirement and ensure what is being asked for is technically achievable. We then work with ICT to deliver on that specification.
As such, good communication skills are important, as is requirements gathering and customer care. We develop quite in-depth understandings of lots of different business areas as part of that which really benefits the products we are able to deliver, often providing things above and beyond what was originally requested.
I manage a team of five, and we are all “hybrid” workers (in fact none of us live in the Thames Valley area and we only go into the office 2 days every 6 weeks) so maintaining those team relationships and links back to our wider department is a constant challenge. A good sense of humour and being a good listener helps my team to feel connected and strengthens those bonds. We even have a board game evening each visit over fish and chips.
What would you say to someone that was considering a similar role at TVP?
Do it. I suspect there are few roles in the Force that can have such a wide impact across the breadth and depth of the organisation. The reports we create cover almost all areas of the business and inform decision making from PC to Chief Constable. We support elements as varied as production of data for the Home Office to the creation of processes that underpin daily management meetings on Local Policing Areas and the case management of serious offenders.
If you’re interested in helping to protect our communities by joining Thames Valley Police as an analyst, please take a look at our vacancies portal.