Performance Indicators – Totty, Coffee and Craic

Posted on December 10, 2009

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In my last post, I touched briefly on performance indicators. For those of you who slept during that bit, they’re the areas in which a police force has to score to win the approval of the Home Office – things like ‘crimes detected’, ‘acquisitive crime rate’, ‘public satisfaction’ etc. A force gets points for doing well in these areas, and these points allow the force to ‘level up’ and unlock new weapons, characters and secret missions. Or something. I fell asleep in that bit and may have dreamt some of my impressions of what PIs are about.

Whether dreams or reality though, most of them were pretty uninspiring. If I were to be moving to a new force, I certainly wouldn’t be looking at the PIs to give me an idea of what it might be like to work there. With this in mind, I thought it was high time that computer forensics labs had some performance indicators of their own. Feel free to rate your own workplace according to these criteria – it should apply to private folk as well as the 5-0. Marks are given out of 10.

HMIC’s Performance Indicators for HTCUS

(‘HMIC’ here stands for ‘Happy Monkey’s Inspectorate of Computerforensicsunits’. No similarity to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies is intended or should be inferred).

  1. Craic. On walking into the office, is there a good vibe? Are staff talking to each other or sitting in sullen silence? The latter may indicate that the office is going through a civil war, which happens from time to time. Is there laughter? Don’t be discouraged if one member of staff is chasing another around the room with a knife in hand – this is common practice in some HTCUs and should be taken as a sign of affection. ‘Vibe’ is difficult to measure quantitatively and an expert may be called in to assist. We suggest Bez from the Happy Mondays.
  2. Coffee. Do staff have access to drinkable coffee? Although it is not unknown for some public sector employees to dismiss decent coffee as a bourgeois frippery and claim a preference for instant, it is important that good coffee is on hand. Coffee may be filtered, steamed or pressed, but there should be access to a grinder. Facilities for roasting beans will gain a unit an ‘exceptional’ rating for this indicator, but it is not essential. Access to a Starbucks, Neros or similar does not score for this indicator. A range of interesting teas will attract bonus points.
  3. Eyecandy. While it is not important for the unit to contain a given proportion of attractive staff (indeed it has proved infeasible to impose a quota on even normal-looking practitioners in this field), an office should have access to a source of totty, whether in a canteen, corridors of admin offices or a snack van shared with other organisations. Inspectors of both sexes should be sent to judge this indicator but should not engage any of the totty in conversation.
  4. Equipment. Do staff have at least two decent-sized monitors? Is there enough desk space? Is there adequate Internet provision?
  5. Relaxation Venues. The availability of a nearby pub or bar is essential. Preferably one where the landlord won’t bar patrons after overhearing a ‘what’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen this week’ competition.
  6. Good music. Always a contentious issue. Commercial radio makes this monkey’s ears bleed, and Radio 4 doesn’t really cut it in a busy, noisy office.  Spotify can save the day, but it’s important to have a regular shout for requests, to make sure everyone’s happy. Their ads are getting increasingly irritating though – almost enough to make one subscribe. Almost.
  7. War Stories. Are there people with enough varied experience to be able to supply a steady stream of war stories over the years? Veracity of the stories is not measured in this indicator and repetition of stories is acceptable, if the story is funny enough.
  8. Biscuits. Is there a well-stocked biscuit tin? If some disturbed freak keeps putting digestives in there, this will score minus points. What sort of person sees a shelf full of biscuits and chooses digestives, ffs? Even the name’s wrong, it sounds like something old people eat to help them with their bowel movements.

The Office of Monkey scores:

  1. 9
  2. 8
  3. 8
  4. 8
  5. 0 (Nearest hostelry smells of wee)
  6. 5 (varies between elevator music and cock-rock)
  7. 8
  8. 9 (Although there’s someone who think it’s amusing to buy Netto digestives and pass them off as his tea kitty contribution, the tea kitty administrator generally does sterling work with biscuits.

Giving a grand total of 55 out of a possible 80! This isn’t fantastic, and shows a need for improvement in some areas.

So start totting up your own scores! I want a representative sample of UK computer forensics offices in the comments – it’d be good to see how the figures compare between LE/Private as well, so please say what sort of place you work in. Feel free to post suggestions for other indicators, too.

This post was brought to you with the help of The Damned, The Cult, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus and OMD (I was really reliving my youth tonight!) Also some generic plonk from Bargain Booze and a bag of Twiglets. Nom.