SAS Capability and Integration Manager, Management Information Branch, Plans Directorate, Army Headquarters.
SAS Transforms Data Integration at Army's Land Forces HQ to Deliver Future-Proofed Manpower Planning
The British Army's Land Forces Headquarters has successfully achieved enhanced manpower planning thanks to next-generation SAS® Data Quality, Reporting and Analytics solutions.
It is vital that at all times the Army has a clear view of its manpower resources: the particular skills and expertise of individuals and the types of training they have undergone. This kind of insight helps drive agility and speed of response in operational situations, and efficiency and cost-effectiveness in routine daily business. All of this is particularly critical in the current environment with cost-saving on the agenda and a government-driven restructuring process in place.
The Army knew that efficient use of data was crucial to making the right manpower decisions. It had multiple sources of important data about its personnel. The problem was that data was not sufficiently integrated to provide the actionable intelligence senior personnel needed to ensure they made the best possible manpower planning decisions.
In particular, the Army had a large joint personnel administration (JPA) system covering all serving and veteran military staff and the cost of administering them, and a separate database identifying where personnel should be located and which part of the Army they should be associated with. Unfortunately, the two systems were not linked.
The Army saw that to gain insight into their data and use it to inform evidence-based decision making around manpower, it needed to bring these critical information sources together, and analyse and report on the results.
The Army took the view that SAS technology was much more intuitive and easier to use than competitive solutions, and that it offered a much more powerful analytics capability than the other solution suites available.
Finding a Solution
After a competitive evaluation, SAS Data Quality analytics and Reporting solutions were chosen as being the best available on the market for this kind of application. "The Army took the view that SAS technology was much more intuitive and easier to use than competitive solutions, and offered a much more powerful analytics capability than the other solution suites available," said Mark Briggs, SAS Capability and Integration Manager, Management Information Branch, Plans Directorate, Army Headquarters.
The Army has now implemented the SAS 9.2 software suite. This includes the SAS Enterprise BI Server, a business intelligence software solution that integrates the power of SAS Analytics and SAS Data Management to provide insights that power better enterprise and data mining capability. This capability can be used to analyse everything from skills levels achieved to training requirements to personnel available for deployment to a theatre of war.
The Army also uses SAS Enterprise Guide, a point-and-click tool, to streamline its data analytics and reporting capability. Ease of use is a key benefit of this solution, empowering users without complex coding capability or in-depth IT skills to extract value and insight from data sets.
The SAS Solutions suite also helps the Army to keep the quality of the data it holds high, correcting input errors and de-duplicating data sets - a critical first step in any project of this type.
As Elaine Drummond, Head of Public Sector UK, SAS, explains: "At the same time, we were able to work with the Army to provide them with the best people for the job, and embed them within the Army's own management information bureau to augment the work that the Army does for itself by providing specialist skills to 'sit within' the Army team."
A team of five expert SAS personnel are now permanently based at the Land Army's Andover Headquarters, using SAS tools to provide not only technical support but also consultancy and in-depth data analysis.
By blending together disparate data sources, the in-house SAS team can use the SAS solutions set to ensure data quality and data integration levels are high. It can then carry out coherent analysis of these. As Drummond explains: "This in turn enables us to provide the Army with a greater level of insight into the skills and talents of their workforce: including critical information about how many people have passed a certain examination grade, what the specialisms of particular individuals are, what grades they have achieved and what training courses they have completed. All of this information is key to efficient manpower planning."
The capabilities supported by SAS solutions have also had a critical role to play in helping the Army look at manpower efficiencies and optimisation both today and into the future, particularly in support of Army 2020 and the ongoing Army restructuring programme.
The Headquarters of the Army Land Forces has an urgent need for insight into its manpower resources and it needed to be able to integrate disparate data sets to inform the decision-making process.
The Army has now implemented the SAS 9.2 software suite. This includes the SAS Enterprise BI Server, a business intelligence software solution that integrates the power of SAS Analytics and SAS Data Management to provide insights that power better enterprise and data mining capability.
By blending together disparate data sources, the in-house SAS team can use the SAS Solutions set to ensure data quality and data integration levels are high. It can then carry out coherent analysis of these.