SAS® Professional Services Streamlining British Army Restructuring in Run-up to 2020
A team of SAS experts has revolutionised The British Army's data analysis processes and is driving a seamless restructuring process for the post-Afghanistan era.
Resource planning has always been vitally important to the British Army. Currently the need is more urgent than ever. The Army is restructuring as part of a wider Ministry of Defence (MOD) process taking place between now and 2020. Like the rest of the public sector, the Army is under huge financial pressure from Government and needs to position itself for the post-Afghanistan era.
The number of regular soldiers is set to fall from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020, while reservists will double to 30,000. At the same time, the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review of 2010 planned for the overall resource budget of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to fall by 7.5%. The Army needs to understand what skills it will need; and where and when it will need them to support this change in focus and resources.
At the same time, the Army retains a complex structure with up to 200 trades currently supported, from machine gunner to signaller and from engineer to plant operator mechanic. Ensuring there are the right numbers of people in each role and trade is a challenge in itself, but the Army also needs to make sure it maintains an appropriate flow of skilled and experienced soldiers upwards through the rank structure into senior roles.
It needed to gain an insight into the information it holds, with large amounts of relevant data held in numerous disconnected information systems. The challenge was to bring this information together, to gain insight into it and to use it to support evidence-based decision making. To do this, it needed the help of specialists who could bring together all of the disparate manpower information assets, make sense of that data in the context of the Army's business, and interpret those findings to achieve meaningful and actionable results.
Putting a Professional Services Solution in Place
"Close engagement with the Army was vital from the outset," said Mark Briggs, SAS Capability and Integration Manager, Management Information Branch, Plans Directorate Army Headquarters. "The Army wanted reassurance that it was buying professional services capability that could deliver the required outcomes quickly and efficiently. Being on-site allowed us to demonstrate the flexibility of service we could offer while building trust with key project stakeholders."
"While the Army recognised the quality and rich functionality of SAS data analytics, forecasting and reporting solutions used, ultimately it wanted to buy a capability that enabled it to deliver the required outcomes around resource planning. So it bought a comprehensive solution from SAS which incorporated both software and services, and SAS was flexible in delivering the required solution," he added.
Using the full SAS® 9.2 suite of data management, statistical analysis and reporting software solutions, the SAS team of five consultants focused on integrating data held mainly in two previously unlinked systems. The first deals with personnel administration and cost. The second, a manpower system, concentrates on allocating people to specific roles and departments.
Reaping the Rewards
According to Briggs, "The SAS capability is the first time that the Army headquarters has had the ability to draw all of those different bits of data together and ensure that they make sense. The SAS team has focused on giving the Army insight into that information and the Army has been delighted with the results achieved.
"It has been an iterative data exploration process evolving over time," he adds. "The Army knew the basic questions they wanted to ask about manpower, but along the way we have been able to give them significant added insight into other associated areas that they have, until now, been unaware of, and which, therefore, have helped to drive their future operational strategy."
The capabilities delivered have been instrumental in enabling the Army to look at manpower efficiencies and optimisation over the next few years, in support of the Army 2020 restructuring requirements. Looking to the future, while manpower planning has been the key focus so far, the Army is now also beginning to look at issues around asset engineering, occupational health and contingent operations.
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The British Army's Land Forces Headquarters
Army Headquarters had an urgent need for efficient manpower and resource planning. This is made yet more urgent by current restructuring in the run-up to 2020 and the need to significantly reduce spending levels.
Specialist domain expertise and consultancy provided by the team of five SAS consultants, working on-site to help the Army gain actionable insight into data held in disconnected information systems.
SAS Professional Services capability in the form of a team of domain experts working on-site enabled the Army to integrate disparate sources of data relating to manpower and resources – and to draw that information together to make better, more informed manpower decisions. By providing a flexible delivery capability, Army HQ has been able to work in an agile way responding to urgent and nascent information demands, as well as supporting the overall manpower planning programme. Potential to start using this capability for other applications in the future.
“While the Army recognised the quality and rich functionality of the SAS data analytics, forecasting and reporting solutions used, ultimately it wanted to buy a capability that enabled it to deliver the required outcomes around resource planning. So it bought a comprehensive solution from SAS which incorporated both software and services, and SAS was flexible in delivering the required solution.”
SAS Capability and Integration Manager, Management Information Branch, Plans Directorate, Army Headquarters.