Lim Chin Chin*, Chia Poh Ling, Michael Tay Ming Kiong
6th European Academy of Forensic Science Conference
20-24 Aug 2012, The Hague, Netherlands (Oral Presentation)
This paper retraces the steps taken by the Forensic Chemistry and Physics Laboratory over the last 5 years (2007 to the present) to radically transform its range of conventional Criminalistics services to a service portfolio which is more financially viable, relevant, value-added and sustainable. It highlights critical factors which enabled the successful transformation and explores the challenges in the implementation of the new initiatives. Critical factors identified include:
- Effective Visioning
- Mindset change and creativity
- Courage, tenacity and persevered actions
- Relevancy, value-add and sustainability of new initiatives and service areas
- Support of senior management, staff and stakeholders
Forensic services such as trace evidence and document examination are labour intensive and require long periods of apprenticeship. In many laboratories, these two service areas are often the first to disappear when resources are reduced. It was hence not surprising that the impact of fee-for-service provision for such services in Singapore mirrored the UK trend when LEAs cut back on the number of samples submitted for lab examinations to reduce cost. The laboratory was in deficit for many years and at one time, considered closing its document examination section due to a financially unsustainable operating model.
The transformation started with a powerful vision of what the laboratory could and should be, kindled by the critical need for sustainability, and the strong belief that employees’ unique skill sets could be further enhanced and applied to create new value-added services with growth potential and sustainability. Key staff members reviewed the service portfolio vis-a-vis its mission statement and actively pursued fresh inputs from the market and scientific community to formulate strategies and action plans to exploit white space opportunities. Two main approaches were undertaken:
- Stimulate an increase in the number of samples submitted by LEAs by customizing and producing evidence collection kits for LEAs to use at the scene, and jointly develop databases with LEAs to provide investigative leads for trace evidence.
- To obtain a stake in the parent ministry’s research grants by conducting research in areas related to healthcare, and align to the parent ministry’s objectives and focus by applying a forensic mindset to solving healthcare issues.
In the last 5 years, the laboratory successfully expanded its scope of service, and regained financial viability with a 4-fold increase in revenue and a 3-fold increase in staff strength. Strategies on the laboratory’s transformation will be presented at the conference.
- W.C Kim, R Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy (2005) Harvard Business School Press
- M.K Tay, C. C Lim, Visioning for success (2002), paper submitted to Public Service Centre for Organisational Excellence Competition in September 2002. Won 3rd prize.