The Ministry of Defence’s ability to supply military operations with the required equipment is undermined by its data managemet practices and business intelligence systems, according to a report from the National Audit Office.
The report found that supply chain data is contained in a number of disparate IT systems, some which are 30 years old. These are poorly integrated, it found, making it difficult to view the complete inventory of equipment.
The quality of that data is questionable, the NAO discovered, reducing the Minstry’s confidence in its own supply chain systems.
These flaws undermine the business intelligence system that the Ministry uses to analyse supply chain data, which is based on IBM’s Cognos BI software.
“The enterprise data warehouse is not populated with all the data needed, and the Cognos reporting tool is not fully effective,” the report found. “Not all data required on the supply chain is available, not all data it has is input into the system, the enterprise data warehouse is usually updated monthly and has to be manually updated when it is. At the same time, the Cognos tool does not always pick up the correct data when producing reports.”
These issues mean the Ministry has failed to meet its own supply chain performance targets, the NAO found. Nearly half of equipment deliveries failed to arrive on time, and in the case of “high priority” items sent by air, only a third arrive on time. More than half of delivery failures occur because the item is not in stock.
The report’s findings provide some justification for the £800 million logistics IT contract that the Ministry of Justice signed last year with engineering giant Boeing. The 11-year project will see the Ministry’s 270 legacy logistics systems integrated into a single platform.
But there are other areas that need improvement, the NAO said, including staff awareness of the need for accurate data.
It also warned that the Ministry had yet to establish precisely which data is required to manage the supply chain more effectively. “While some progress has been made, it said, “the [Ministry] has not yet fully defined, or agreed, the information it needs, or the data that should be collected, to manage the supply chain.”