What is "mission readiness" and why does an organization need it? Mission readiness refers to an organization’s ability to understand, plan, program, and fulfill core mission responsibilities, even and especially in the face of emerging threats and other major changes in circumstance. Across today’s ever-shifting environmental, social, and fiscal climates, this is a dynamic and critical need. To sustain mission readiness, organizations must be able to quickly convert data into insight to make dynamic, well-informed decisions.
In the past, agencies relied on extensive, manual processes to provide readiness information, which meant that making resource decisions was a time-consuming, complex undertaking. It was nearly impossible for organizations to achieve, much less maintain, up-to-date views of their ability to respond to a given situation or make informed, data-driven decisions on future needs with high confidence levels.
Today, with the right data, technologies, and processes in place, organizations can aggregate information in near-real time and analyze it almost as fast. In fact, there is a general expectation throughout the public and the global media that most organizations should have this capability. Recognizing a growing and urgent need among some clients, Booz Allen has developed a customizable mission readiness platform that gathers, analyzes, and visualizes readiness data (e.g., assets, manpower, training, and budget) so that leaders, confident in the quality of their information, can focus on achieving greater mission outcomes.
Current Challenges Show the Need for Better Mission Readiness Data
Recently published reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) describe examples of readiness challenges from across the Department of Defense and civilian agencies, including:
- GAO-20-223: Published: Feb 26, 2020: Coast Guard - Actions Needed to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Organizational Changes and Determine Workforce Needs
- GAO-20-267: Published: Feb 6, 2020: Election Security - DHS Plans Are Urgently Needed to Address Identified Challenges Before the 2020 Election
- GAO-19-206: Published: Feb 21, 2019: Defense Health Care - Actions Needed to Determine the Required Size and Readiness of Operational Medical and Dental Force
- GAO-19-711T: Published: Sep 25, 2019: Coast Guard Shore Infrastructure - Actions Needed to Better Manage Assets and Reduce Risks and Costs
Among the general conclusions to draw from these reports is that many agencies rely on lengthy, cumbersome processes to collect and assemble decision-critical information, forcing them to respond to challenges like those listed above with “gut feel” solutions based on anecdotes and limited, often siloed data.
Events like the COVID-19 pandemic have made it clear that the current state of readiness planning and data analysis needs to improve. In times of crisis, senior decision makers, lawmakers, and the public expect agencies to be able to present large volumes of data in compelling, easy-to-digest formats. To be prepared to make fast decisions during a change in circumstance, agencies need an enterprise-wide, silo-demolishing view of their readiness data before the change begins. Understanding every aspect of a likely event and the potential impacts on missions, priorities, resources, risks, and national interests is crucial to achieving agency-wide organizational sustainment, improving efficiencies, and protecting our nation’s safety and security.
For example, how many hospital beds would New York need if 20% of its population fell critically ill all at once; how quickly could we ramp up to provide them; what resources would be involved, and where would they come from? Which specific emergency services, utilities, and sections of the city would be impacted if Charleston experienced a 10-foot storm surge? How do we know how many facilities, boats or aircraft we have available and how can we predict maintenance on mission critical assets so we’re best prepared to fulfill our mission? With the right technology and processes in place, we can answer these types of questions. Indeed, Booz Allen has helped large defense agencies answer them for many years. Civilian agencies should be just as prepared to address new and emerging threats related to pandemics, cyber attacks, budget cuts, and other likely “what-ifs.”
As a baseline step to determining their ability to fulfill current missions while remaining positioned to respond to new challenges, agencies must collect, clean, and assess large amounts of data from a wide variety of relevant sources. To build on, clarify, and maintain their view into readiness, agencies must also enable themselves to understand, quantify, and visualize risks at the mission and enterprise levels to identify tradeoffs and optimize resources.
As agencies manage complex missions and changing priorities, they benefit from having this information readily available on a day-to-day basis. In times of response and recovery—when Congress, the media, the public, relief organizations, and other institutions demand complete, accurate, and visually depicted information—a timely, comprehensive understanding of mission readiness is nothing less than priceless.
What’s the Solution? A Reliable Mission Readiness Platform
In an age of rapid innovation and exponentially accelerating technological advancement, a platform that brings together all the components necessary for mission readiness is not only within reach—it’s available now. Booz Allen’s mission readiness platform provides what agencies need: the ability to respond more quickly, effectively, and with higher confidence by using data to inform decisions rather than relying on that “gut feel.”
Booz Allen’s mission readiness platform helps decision makers understand and quantify the impact of their decisions, determine the best use of their resources, and predict outcomes—thus, minimizing risk to their organization. For example, by aggregating data that used to be siloed in disparate systems (e.g., infrastructure maintenance, location of assets, operating budgets, and so on) we can empower leaders to make resourcing decisions with a more complete understanding of current conditions than was previously possible. We made improving the speed and accuracy of decision making a central focus of our solution’s design to ensure that it leaves agencies ready and prepared to respond to changing demands.
How can this platform help you? Using our customizable, structured approach to visualizing and reporting an organization’s mission readiness will:
- Strengthen confidence in decision-making by preparing data for more effective use, establishing a consistent and repeatable approach to managing risk, and providing the ability to visualize impacts before they occur. A structured readiness approach also helps avoid “analysis paralysis” by converting a flood of raw data into insights and metrics that can be quickly digested, meaningfully compared, and acted upon.
- Improve balance across resources, requirements, and risk through the ability to assess complex trade-offs, forecast probable outcomes, and justify future budget needs. This will save organizations time, money, false-starts, and credibility by empowering them to manage their personnel, and financial and asset resources more effectively.
- Reduce operational risk by enabling decision-makers to quickly visualize likely decision outcomes, avoid costly delays or failed initiatives, and forecast urgent operational needs with actionable and authoritative data that provides a compelling case to support future budget justifications.
We're Ready to Help You
As new taskings and funding are directed and allocated as a result of COVID-19, how do agencies best use these resources to bring maximum benefit to their missions? How do they think about the challenges ahead to ensure they can quickly allocate support and resources where they are most needed? How do they develop the right skills and competencies in their workforce to apply these approaches? Mission readiness is key to answering such questions with efficiency and confidence.
As the pandemic continues to unfold and reveal new impacts, now is an especially critical time for organizations and the public to have a comprehensive understanding of their readiness to prepare, respond to, and recover from crisis. We're here to help you. Booz Allen’s readiness support to large defense agencies spans more than a decade. In that time, we've helped agencies improve cost savings and mission outcomes, leaving them more prepared for both normal operations and the next change in circumstance, whatever it may be.