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How an ‘enterprise’ approach to operational intelligence is revolutionising the military

ifsDefence budgets have never been more closely scrutinised and operational tasking so varied. Defence industry and military operators are having to maintain operational effectiveness, safety and compliance, while at the same time drive in business rigour and realise value for money. Brendan Viggers, product and sales support, IFS Aerospace and Defence Centre of Excellence, explains how new software developments are enabling the military to take a 360 degree ‘enterprise-wide’ approach to maintaining operational effectiveness.

With the strategic necessity to take advantage of the benefits that increased industry involvement brings, delivery of support across the military has inevitably become more fragmented within the organisations involved, the support chains and within military bases themselves.

It takes more than Business Intelligence (BI) tools
Military logistics solutions must straddle a complex network of players and processes, from manufacturing, maintenance and repair to at-base operations and field deployment – making it difficult to give an ‘enterprise-wide’ view of all these considerations.

BI tools operate on a ‘point solution basis’ identifying problems in one area, but crucially without providing the wider perspective that a process contributes to, or sits within. They lack the agility and flexibility required to incorporate the numerous processes and business rules involved in military support, which are necessary to provide planners with a single ‘enterprise-wide’ view of the complete operation.

This enterprise-wide view should provide end-to-end access to timely, accurate and complete information, in which commanders can have absolute confidence that they are being presented with all the required information to enable them to operate more efficiently and effectively.

to enable defence organisations to gain maximum visibility into operations and then further optimise going forward.

The three M’s: Map, Monitor and Manage
In the defence environment, operational intelligence needs to be based on a real time 360 degree enterprise-wide view. Any solution must meet these three basic requirements: it must Map, Monitor and Manage in the way I explain below.

Map the enterprise

  • Define the complex structure of the military operation, its suppliers and objectives to achieve a top-down reinforcement of force strategy.
  • Provide an enterprise-wide view across relies on the support of 3rd party suppliers operating multiple information systems. This allows military planners to maximise operational capabilities and accelerate the realisation of strategic objectives.

Monitor

  • Enable defence organisations to make better decisions, faster, by assessing real-time business and operational performance information in the context of how it affects key operational processes and KPIs.
  • Provide insight into the full end-to-end enterprise performance – offer a unique value proposition to support key strategic decision-makers.
  • Optimise whole process efficiency – rather than point divisions, organisations or functions.

Manage

  • Enable defence organisations to increase agility by supporting process change quickly, in days not months.
  • Increase organisational effectiveness and therefore maximise operational capability.
  • Improve the flexibility and predictability of the support chain with a full insight into the end-to-end enterprise.
  • Facilitate more effective action – increase quality, speed and targeting.

Enter a new approach for the military – Enterprise Operational Intelligence (EOI) solutions. These go beyond the methods adopted by traditional BI tools. EOI uniquely provides a full 360 degree perspective rather than a set of point BI perspectives on how the performance of various business elements – including suppliers, processes, products & services, sales channels and customers –  affect the overall operating model, and recommends changes that could drive operational and cost-effectiveness.

Roy Pickerill, Group Head, Secure Information Services at MASS, involved in the delivery of EOI solutions in conjunction with IFS in the military base environment explains: “EOI reconnects the fragmented defence operation – re-establishing operational resilience. This allows strategic decision-makers to focus on removal of duplication of effort in a number of key operational areas – reducing excessive investment in the resourcing model, improving strategic/high level decision-making and reducing contractual and capability interdependencies.”

Why EOI now – complexity in the supply chain
Supply chains are becoming more complex, and are now typically comprised of a mix of military and industry managed, in-house and contracted out support. Modern business models, such as contractor logistics support (CLS), performance-based logistics (PBL), contracting for availability (CfA), and product support agreement (PSA) programmes are becoming the norm. The US and UK, as mature arms markets, have already realised the benefits of arrangements such as PBL over the last decade, so much, in fact, that it is now a generally mandated consideration for major new procurement projects.

As a consequence, it is no surprise that defence organisations are beginning to realise the need to move towards adopting a form of support in-line with current industry recommended models, such as the Supply Chain Operations Reference Model (SCOR).

However, due to the deeper complexity of the defence environment, where enterprise asset management is key, ‘supply’ in this instance becomes ‘support’ and as a result Business Process Management (BPM) and even KPI management solutions are not able to encompass the added complexities – such as the wider set of fragmented business processes in the military support chain.

“The key to driving value into the military support chain is the combination of Map, Monitor and Manage,” said Grant Alexander, Senior Consultant at CGI.

“With a 360 degree view across the support chain, strategic planners have visibility across an extremely complex network. IFS EOI can then help analyse and make sense of the performance of the entire support chain, then subsequently model and implement the next steps required to increase operational and budgetary efficiency.”

Complexity is no simple matter – it starts at base
Military bases in themselves are complex by nature. For example, an Air Force base can comprise operations and services that include operating as an airport, engineering, cargo, passengers, logistics and facilities management – not to mention equipment and an aircraft fleet of widely varying ages and models.

To add in extra layers of complexity, these services are typically supported via a range of routes: direct from the military, defence department agencies and outside contractors involved in day-to-day base operations. Policy and governance responsibilities are usually retained by the defence department, with some equipment, vehicles and aircraft supported directly and others through various PBL agreements.

Compared with civil aviation operations, the difficulty of managing this fragmented and complex delivery model can result in over-provision, or worse under-provision – as well as possible duplication of the support capabilities required, especially as these entities sometimes have to transition from peace time operations, to planned exercise and into full operational capability.

Processes, systems and tools commonly found in similar sized commercial enterprises, that track financial and operational performance and inform decision-making at all levels, are typically absent at military bases.

A recent report around improving efficiency at an RAF base highlighted: “In essence, the Station Commander (Chief Executive) has responsibility for delivering the capability, but no system or process for understanding the financial impact of local decisions exists, other than a simple monthly report on only 20% of the total expenditure flowing through the Enterprise.”

Enterprise Operational Intelligence explained
The reality is that there will always be multi-agency complexity, but a complex enterprise can transform to a more efficient model with the use of an appropriate EOI solution. It’s key for the solution to show an understanding of this multi-agency support environment and provide enterprise wide visibility to enable a military planner to see the organisation as is – which is often not as everybody expected in my experience. EOI should provide a window into what processes are operating efficiently but, more importantly, can show what a new, transformed, model will look like to better support the strategic objective.

Roy Pickerill continues: “In financial and asset management terms, we developed our EOI offering in conjunction with IFS to reduce financial complexity, improve the approach to risk management and profiling, increase the flexibility available to operational managers in order to maximise the use of assets and better meet emerging defence requirements. Alongside this, it increases the agility to respond to opportunities of new technology, new legislation and new employment mechanisms.”

For defence departments: EOI transforms reporting into controlling
Ministries and departments of defence are some of the most complex departments in any governmental structure, with added operational control of the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as other branches that fall under a defence department’s control.

Defence departments need to move from ‘reporting’ – the current scope of traditional BI tools, to ‘controlling’ – the standard enabled with solutions such as IFS EOI.

For example, when organising a mission to send a patrol ship to address an at-sea threat, bottom-up silo reporting is typically managed and optimised against specific ‘Defence Lines of Development/Fundamental Inputs to Capability’ – which is the current stovepipe approach and scope of BI tools – which means the Operations Commander doesn’t have the full information required to accurately plan across an entire operation.

For example, our IFS EOI solution has the capability to model operations or readiness by connecting the data from numerous different source systems. Map, monitor and manage provides Operations Commanders with an answer to the question “Are we ready to perform the at-sea mission from an HR, material, and training perspective in a timeframe between x and y?” If the answer is negative, EOI can also analyse what issues need addressing in order to meet the mission deadline.

Mission scenarios can be modelled, and operational readiness viewed graphically via a BizMap™, with a cockpit-like interface that allows for easy monitoring of operational and business performance in material management, HR, finance, training and more.

Another application could be the financial implications of asset upgrading, for example, a department of defence taking a weapon system upgrade to a fleet of aircraft. The EOI approach allows strategic decision-makers to assess the impact of budget allocations on the readiness of weapon systems. With this level of visibility, planners can judge which technical upgrades of the weapon system will have most impact on the readiness of the system.

Complexity – what complexity?
The running theme across support chains, defence departments and even military bases is complexity, and the need for this complexity to be understood, processed and subsequently optimised. Instead of behaving as a BI tool to simply assess business performance on a point by point basis, EOI gives Command-level personnel complete visibility of strategy and performance and the means to act on it across the enterprise – whether that’s one naval vessel, an entire support chain, a whole defence department, or even a military base – Map, Monitor, Manage.

Strategic planners can now rely on a single enterprise-wide view, ensuring their equipment, vehicles and personnel are primed and ready for action, on time and within budget, not just to manage past targets through BI data.

 

 

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