Case Study: Actuate reporting solution earns its stripes at RAF
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Case Study: Actuate reporting solution earns its stripes at RAF

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Actuate reporting solution earns its stripes at RAF, as support...

Actuate reporting solution earns its stripes at RAF, as support
department tightens its supply chain and adds more value

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  • 1. Case StudyFlying highActuate reporting solution earns its stripes at RAF, as supportdepartment tightens its supply chain and adds more value“The functionality of Actuate is very impressive. We can do a lot of the manipulation in the report > Company profilecoding structure itself, rather than having to extract the data and then run macros , which was very The Defence Equipment andtime-consuming. What used to take up to an hour now takes just a few minutes.” Support Logistics (Air) organisa- tion, DE&S, is part of the British“Before, we didn’t have network-based tools, so there was no web access. We wanted the user to be Royal Air Force (RAF).able to log in wherever they were on the network, particularly for support staffs who move from siteto site.” > industry Government/Defence — Squadron Leader Alan W Moore Head of Reporting Services, Management Information Branch, Supply Chain Support > company size Programmes, Defence Equipment & Support, RAF Wyton 29,000 employees When your core responsibilities include the DE&S Air Logistics Reporting team is now > location keeping expensive, peace-keeping aircraft exploiting the Actuate capabilities to replace The department is based across flying, the quality and immediacy of your other reporting solutions for other aircraft 65 locations and represented at maintenance and supply chain reporting platforms . 150 specific sites. activities will be paramount. Yet, until two years ago, the British Royal Manual manipulation > challenge Air Force’s Defence Equipment & Support “Typhoon data is stored in two different data benefits department had clipped wings when it came sources, which we need to pull together to See At-A-Glance (page 5) to information reporting from its air logistics produce reports,” explains Squadron Leader engineering systems. Although a wealth of Alan W Moore, head of reporting services engineering, asset management and other within the Information Exploitation Branch, essential data was being recorded and Supply Chain Support Programmes, within safely stored, the process of extracting and Defence Equipment & Support at RAF Wyton. reporting on this information was far from For other platforms, it didn’t help that the easy or efficient. So when the RAF introduced main database – Informix – was an older, the Typhoon multi-role combat aircraft, it legacy system. To provide actionable decided something needed to be done. decision-support information from this source So successful has been its employment of to internal operations staff, contractors and specialist reporting solutions from Actuate to clients, Sqn Ldr Moore’s department had provide Typhoon reporting efficiencies, that the painstaking task of extracting the data
  • 2. Case Study: RAFusing SQL queries and manipulating it using Multiple challenges,spreadsheet macros and then present thedata in an appropriate way, a process which single solutionwas not efficient for report customers to When the DE&S’s Management Informationperform. Branch went to the market, its mission was to find a modern reporting tool that couldThe Informix system holds logistics data, effortlessly draw data from across new andsuch as engineering and asset management older systems.records including vital maintenance andproduct life parameter information, as well There were other critical requirements too.as reference data about the structure of the Says Moore: “We needed a solution thataircraft. Comprehensive reporting depends would comply with MOD Architecture andon being able to pull together data and be run over the MOD RLI intranet; connectpresent it under the reference structure. to multiple database sources of differing standards; produce output in multiple,Although Moore’s team did have some graphical formats; and that would minimisereporting capabilities in a business development resources.”intelligence tool (IQ/Eureka from ComputerAssociates) with the introduction of the Crucially, the reporting application alsoTyphoon aircraft, this had several limitations, needed to provide Web-based reports thatnot least its inability to draw data from more could be manipulated by customers. Thethan one source. “Modern reporting tools RAF needed complete flexibility, since aare generally very good at manipulating further objective was to maximise use ofdata from modern data sources, but they internal resources, as well as getting critical,are not so good at looking backwards and meaningful, accurate information to theworking with older systems,” Sqn Ldr Moore users that needed it without delay.notes. It became clear that the RAF needed Requested reports can range from thosea dedicated, powerful reporting capability with direct operational importance, aswith greater flexibility. used by operating squadron personnel orAcross the disparate systems, the team support organisations, to those relating toneeded to extract data from numerous customer support agreements and contractdiscrete sources, including the RAF’s performance management. To ensure thatLogistics Information Technology System accurate, up-to-date, comprehensive and(LITS) and the Maintenance Data System relevant information was delivered to the(MDS), data from the back-office system, right people at the right time, Moore’s teamplus the Management of the Joint Deployed needed to establish a fully network-capableInventory Proof of Concept Management system that extended from the techniciansInformation System (MJDI POC MIS) which on the ground to customers in differenttracks the flow of material. support organisations, and which could be accessed flexibly across different locations,“As it was, we only had one reporting tool for using workstations & laptops supportingone application, and we couldn’t employ this both remote and autonomous use.to get a complete picture of activities acrosswhole fleets when fleet data was managed “Before, we didn’t have network-basedin different E&AM systems,” Moore recalls. tools, so there was no web access,” MooreTrying to achieve this fuller picture was explains. “We wanted the user to be able toinefficient for his department, which at that log in wherever they were on the network,time was populated with some 30 people particularly for support staff who move fromdedicated to the job of generating reports. site to site.” 2
  • 3. Case Study: RAFFlexible automation Pixel perfect, clearfrom Actuate graphicsTo reduce the burden on Moore’s team, and “The functionality of Actuate is veryultimately to enable headcount reduction impressive,” Moore notes. “We can do a lot(the team has now shrunk by two-thirds, of the manipulation in the report codingfrom 30 to 10 people), meant automating structure itself, rather than having to extractreport generation so that users could request the data and run macros first, which was veryand process their own reports against live or time-consuming. What used to take up tooperational data stores. an hour now takes just a few minutes. We’re employing more of a thin-client approachThe RAF found all of the capabilities it to reporting now, if you like, which is muchwanted, and more, in Actuate. more efficient.”“Whereas, before, we had to produce lots Indeed, the RAF has now deployed itsof individual reports for each piece of Actuate solution on a Citrix farm, for furtherequipment, we can now rapidly generate a efficiencies. This means report developerssingle, comprehensive, holistic report across have the freedom to move about and canthe whole fleet, yet present this only in terms work from anywhere.of what is relevant to a Harrier tradesman ora Tornado guy,” Moore says. Moore also likes the ‘pixel perfect’ output he gets with his Actuate reports, and the abilityThis has significantly reduced the report to bring reports alive with interpretativemaintenance burden as there are fewer graphics. “We need to be able to reproducereports to maintain, while, more importantly, the exact structure of the page, and this isensuring users get the information that is very easy with Actuate,” he says. “We can alsodirectly relevant to them quickly. produce all of the data in graphical format,By contrast, with CA’s IQ/Eureka software, using traffic lights, dashboards or pie-chartsthe department had been generating 368 to display problems.separate reports (around 300 relating to “These are capabilities we are exploitingasset management, the rest to maintenance now and it’s having a great impact,” he says.management). Moore’s team has now been “Our customers are happy with the data theyable to whittle this down by more than are getting back from us. The next step istwo thirds (70%). The users benefit directly to hone this further by asking customers totoo, as reports are more immediate, and give us their data preferences, so that we caneasier to digest. Whilst this work is not focus our reports even more by drilling downyet fully completed, and customers must using graphics.”confirm that the Actuate reports satisfiesairworthiness requirements, it is expectedthat the IQ reports will be phased out in12-18 months – this seems long but a periodof parallel running is required by the users ofairworthiness reports. 3
  • 4. Case Study: RAFCustomer control The next steps in the deployment of Actuate, once it has completely phased out CA IQTo this end, the RAF has invested in Actuate’s reporting in favour of Actuate (during theQuery module, which allows objects to be transition, the two have been running increated and made available to customers. parallel), is to integrate more of the RAF’s“This gives our customers OLAP reporting data into the system, to spread its benefits.functionality, so they can request specific “We also want to make greater use of thecolumns of information or tables relating graphical presentation, provide the customerto specific products. They can order, sort with a greater ability to set trigger levels, addand present the reports as they want to see further data sources and possibly additionalthem, whether by squadron, equipment reporting team requirements,” Moorename, or other parameters,” Moore explains. concludes. “We may also move towards aEqually importantly, the ability to set service-oriented architecture [SOA] andparameters and define log-in rights means make increasing use of our Enterprise Datathe data can’t fall into the wrong hands. Warehouse to produce federated reports,” he“This is particularly important if the users says.are commercial organisations; it means wecan be sure British Aerospace won’t see data About the RAF’s Defence Equipmentabout Rolls-Royce faults, and vice versa,” he and Support Logistics (Air) organisation (DE&S)adds. The DE&S employs around 29,000 people,Usage-based log-in also creates greater and has an annual budget spend of up tovisibility of who is requesting the reports and £16 billion, representing 43% of the Defencehow these are being used, so that Moore and budget. The DE&S works closely withhis team can prioritise resources, and rectify industry, with partnering agreements andany reporting problems efficiently. PFIs (private finance initiatives).Field efficiencies DE&S’s Integrated Project Teams are responsible for providing support to AirSuch is the flexibility of the Actuate Command; managing support activities;solution and the way it has been deployed, managing a range of spares; developingthat the RAF has been able to extend its modification program with the Designinformation flow to far-flung outposts such Authority; and managing industry contractsas Afghanistan and Iraq. “Very up-to-date for repair and maintenance.information on material flow can now be runby the staff out there,” Moore says. About ActuateNot all reporting needs to be up to the Actuate Corporation is dedicated tominute however, he notes, and it is an aid increasing the richness, interactivityto overall efficiency that Moore’s team can and effectiveness of enterprise data, fordifferentiate between time-dependent and everyone, everywhere. Actuate deliversless urgent reports. For example, fault trend the next generation RIA-ready informationreports do not need access to live faults data platform for both customer and employee-and data that is in excess of 24 hours old is facing applications. The Actuate platformfully acceptable. boasts unmatched scalability, high- 4
  • 5. Case Study: RAF performance, reliability and security. The company has over 4,400 customers Its proven RIA capabilities and highly globally in a diverse range of business areas collaborative development architecture including financial services and the public are backed by the world’s largest open sector, many of which have a long history source information application developer of deploying Actuate-based solutions for community, grounded in BIRT, the Eclipse dozens, or even hundreds of their mission- Foundation’s only top level Business critical applications. Founded in 1993, Intelligence and reporting project. Actuate has headquarters in San Mateo, California, with offices worldwide. Actuate is Global 9000 organizations use Actuate to listed on NASDAQ under the symbol ACTU. roll out RIA-enabled customer loyalty and For more information on Actuate, visit the Performance Management applications that company’s web site at www.actuate.com. improve customer satisfaction and employee productivity.AT A GLANCEChallenge Summary of key benefits:Improve efficiency; reduce internal staff and administration costs, • The need for fewer reports (from 360 legacy reports down towhile boosting the productivity, value and responsiveness of the 120 Actuate reports)DE&S’s reporting function • Reduced maintenance & resources = lower costs (enabled by Actuate report parameterisation). Reporting team has been cutBefore Actuate, the department had to resort to: by two-thirds, from 30 to 10 people• Logistics Information Technology System (LITS) data, but no • Greater Visibility into reports with drill down capability web-based reporting • The ability to combine data from multiple sources• Limited reporting using IQ/Eureka from Computer Associates • The addition of graphical data presentation• Smart Server scheduling • No more need for macros to be run against report extracts• Reports accessed via menus from within a single application • The ability to do pixel-perfect layouts• Created Access database services • The ability to do the difficult jobs thanks to this highly• Data Mart Service (using DEX - product QinetiQ licensed from configurable tool ClearPace) • Easier meta-data management for developers (knowledge• MDS base & data table linking)• SQL data extractions to customerWith Actuate, it has gained from:• Web-based reporting (greater visibility helps to diagnose problems)• The ability to deliver engineering & asset management and material flow reports via the Air Command portal• Access to a mix of live, operational and back-office data stores• The availability of reports to deployed sites• Multi data source reports• Typhoon reporting• The ability to introduce new services• The ability to do MJDI, CSA & AwIS reporting Actuate Corporation Tel: (888) 422-8828 2207 Bridgepointe Parkway Web: http://www.actuate.com Suite 500 5 San Mateo, CA 94404