May 15, 2017 | Written by: Mike Stuhlreyer
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When one thinks of a fire and rescue service, the image of a firefighter courageously rushing into a burning building is likely the first to come to mind. While saving lives and property are inarguably the most important elements of the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) mission, it encompasses more, including educational instruction and promoting fire prevention throughout the community.
CFRS is the fire and rescue service for the non-metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire and the unitary authority of Peterborough in the UK. The service operates 28 fire stations.
Several years ago, CFRS —like many other public sector organizations worldwide — found itself in the crosshairs of government austerity, mandated cuts to operational budgets that, if not surmounted, could come at a cost to public safety.
Absorbing mandated budget cuts
To avoid any impact on the integrity of its front-line operations, CFRS started an initiative called the Service Transformation and Efficiency Programme (STEP). Essential to the program’s success was automating inefficient, manual back-office administrative business processes, improving visibility into performance and data, and facilitating collaboration both internally and with other fire services.
CFRS leaders knew that one of the ways the service could become more efficient was by improving its local processes. Likewise, a way that we could be more efficient as a nation was by finding common ways of working.
Every fire service, although governed centrally, invariably does slightly different things or the same things in different ways. If you’re recreating a process, you don’t always want to start from scratch. So the goal is to find common ground, work together to identify best practices and adopt these processes across the nation.
IBM Blueworks Live with IBM Business Process Manager on Cloud (IBM BPM on Cloud), based on the IBM Bluemix cloud platform, delivers a smarter process: an open-standard, collaborative model for business process discovery and development. To-date, STEP has transformed 16 business processes within CFRS, engaging more than 600 staff members across 29 fire stations and other facilities in Cambridgeshire.
Business analysts, process owners and stakeholders within the organization map and model processes with Blueworks Live, while BPM on Cloud subsequently provides CFRS development teams with a platform for building new automated and optimized processes.
Collaborating with other emergency services
CFRS has realized a time savings of 60 to 90 percent in process development and deployment, requiring only hours for work that used to take a week. BPM on Cloud provides developers with a highly flexible platform for developing smarter processes and allowing them to focus on that value-add activity rather than on infrastructure.
CFRS has also expanded collaboration with other emergency services. It reached out to other fire and rescue services to show them what it had done and the efficiencies it had achieved. There’s almost zero startup cost for executing smarter process on cloud, so it’s cost effective for other services to join CFRS.
IBM BPM on Cloud and Blueworks Live offer a promising framework for coming together as fire services, finding common ways of working and developing common technical paradigms for systems integration and data sharing.
Learn more about IBM BPM on Cloud.