But while public attention is mainly focused on the men and women on active service in hot spots around the world, the MOD's nerve centre is undoubtedly its headquarters in Whitehall where almost 6,000 military and civilian staff are charged with delivering the nation's defence.
Management of the MOD's two main buildings is outsourced to one of the UK's leading support services companies, the Amey Group. Rooms in both sites are constantly in demand for meetings and conferences, fulfilling such various purposes as translation and video-conferencing suites, depending on the order of the day.
Amey is responsible for providing a comprehensive range of soft and hard services to ensure the availability and functionality of the MOD's rooms and facilities, from cleaning and catering to cabling, plumbing, mailroom services and the crèche. It is even tasked with the raising and lowering of MOD flags.
MIS Manager Mick Desmond says that in such a complex environment, where services are delivered via many different contractors and underpinned by various systems, it has become increasingly important to extend the reach of the underlying CAFM system so that it can extract information from a greater variety of applications and data sources.
Amey has been using FSI's Concept™ CAFM system at the MOD since 2000. In 2007, Amey extended its use and functionality to include FSI's Digital Dashboard module. Digital Dashboard uses simple and easily understood graphics to publish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for a precise audience, defined and tailored according to the user's role, providing a real-time view of a particular department or contractor's performance.
Digital Dashboard draws data from Concept™ sources as well as Excel spreadsheets. The system manager can create, define and publish KPIs according to the needs of the FM department, while the users and their managers can decide how they want the reports to be set up. And the KPIs can be published to a specific audience, with data 'localised' according to the target audience.
"As a concept, it was something we were already trying to achieve ourselves," says Mick. "We felt there was a clear requirement for developing a more comprehensive access tool, so it was good to discover that FSI was already working on its own dashboard approach – and tying it in with the Concept™ package, which is at the centre of our business here at the MOD."
Implementation is still in the early stages, but key Amey staff are already using Digital Dashboard on a daily basis, including for records management, and significant business benefits have already been realised.
"It allows us to have an overall picture of the FM operation at a glance," says Mick. "It shows how KPIs are being met and how contracts are performing, as well as enabling us to pick out any trends with regard to a wide variety of factors and permutations: numbers of visitors at particular times of the day, jobs logged per hour, room bookings made via the online system rather than calling into the help desk. It shows us what activity is happening and when the calls are coming in."
Digital Dashboard has been tied in to the MOD visitor management system, meaning that the relevant contract managers, team leaders and building managers can go straight to a single point for information. Apart from accessing Concept's™ SQL database, there are also plans to tie it in with other appropriate databases and an AV support desk package.
"From my point of view it means that we don't need to commit our own resources to develop a similar package," says Mick. "And once it is rolled out across the site, users will be able to create their own KPIs. At the moment, we spend a lot of hours developing charts, graphs and KPIs for our managers.
"Graphical access to information is a step forward. It gives us a better way of presenting information within our CAFM system and to see how contractors are performing via a full range of spreadsheets and reports."
Amey's close working relationship with FSI is well established at the MOD. The Digital Dashboard implementation is the latest instalment of a history that also includes Amey's adoption of the Concept™ Workflow module.
"The dashboard is currently available to contract managers. My intention is to also offer it to MOD personnel such as budget managers who will benefit from the real time perspective it offers."
Mick says the principles of Digital Dashboard – its ease of use and relative simplicity – make it easy to switch on new users.
"Once they know what it looks like, it's simple enough to give them access rights so that they can set up their own KPIs," he says. "Once the user's browser is adapted to include the dashboard so that all they need to do is point and click, it is then very straightforward for them to customise it and put their own KPIs on the system."
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