This POV is for those designing multi-agency automation solutions.

Multi-Agency Projects

Multi-agency IT (MAIT) projects are difficult to initiate and highly subject to failure. They occur whenever organisational units with separate funding or objectives attempt to collaborate to solve a common problem.

And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that *everyone* can have powers. *Everyone* can be super! And when everyone’s super…no one will be.
(The Incredibles, 2004)

Shared problems that have no single owner or controller are notoriously difficult to control. They cut across political and financial boarders as well as involving stakeholders with different objectives and personal agenda.

Perhaps when everyone has a say and everyone is in charge, then no one is.

Funding, requirements, and schedules can be “fudged” to “get things going” but when feature trading begins, the design is inevitably bogged down to the point that the project has already failed.

Cross-Industry and Supply Chain Cooperation and Joint Investment

This point of view touches on the challenges of cross industry information sharing as well as cross supply chain cooperation and joint investment.

Both problems share challenges that are difficult to negotiate and that are technically supported by the Responsiv Cloud Automation Platform and by specific supply chain initiatives that are being progressed by Responsiv.

Most commercial industries do not generally cooperate across competing companies; this is not true for utility companies, emergency services, and government agencies and councils.

Emergency Services

There are over forty fire and rescue services in England (44), Wales (3) and Scotland (1). Each one must coordinate their activity with local councils, water and utilities companies, road and rail providers, and health services.

This multi-agency problem is difficult to solve, as illustrated by the failed Fire Control project of the early 2000’s. Fire and rescue regional control initiative (Fire Control) was a four-year project with an initial budget of £100m, then £200m, with a final estimation of 8yrs and £1.2Bn; before being cancelled.

Perhaps the problem is not that the solution is too difficult, but that we are trying to solve too much too soon. By breaking the problem along political and financial lines the technology can be freed to deliver its promise.

The jigsaw model implemented using Responsiv Cloud Automation Platform supports a federated approach to connecting and coordinating emergency services with each other, utility companies, government agencies, and the general public.

  • Use case: Road Traffic Accident (RTA) requires a multi-agency response that includes ambulance, water, electrical, and DVLA to be involved. Today this means phone calls, tomorrow the mobilising agent sends an instruction electronically.
  • Use case: Planning agency needs an FRS view of the new construction project. Tomorrow, they use a self-service form to request and control/assure the service.
  • Use case: Home Fire Safety check, Near Miss at Work, Expenses, and many other request/register type problems are solved simply and cheaply by the same technology.

Hospital Services

Hospitals are connected to social services, retirement homes and many other organisations that need to share information. One way is to phone and ask whether a bed is free, or a person can be discharged on a particular day. Perhaps better, is to have that information shared and bookable by trusted partners.

The jigsaw model implemented using Responsiv Cloud Automation Platform supports a federated approach to connecting and coordinating hospital services and social care organisations.

  • Use case: Road Traffic Accident (RTA) requires A&E resources to be available and the ambulance services need to know where to route casualties.
  • Use case: Patient needs to be discharged to a nursing home or other organisation that must be organised
  • Use case: General Practitioner needs to confirm an appointment with the hospital while coordinating with insurance companies and the patient

Local Government and Government Agencies

Local government and agencies are a classic example of the need for multi-agency cooperation and information sharing. Each has an individual need and the need to be integrated, but they don’t have a classic supply chain relationship.

The jigsaw model implemented using Responsiv Cloud Automation Platform supports a federated approach to connecting and coordinating government agencies and their partners.

  • Use case: Vulnerable person protection and sharing of changes to situation and cross cutting support arrangements.
  • Use case: Agency requires notification of an action that has happened (recording), or of a planned event (permission), or alerted of something that must be done quickly.
  • Use case: Participation in mobilisation for emergency services.

Utility Companies

Consumer utility, including water, electricity, retail banks, and phone companies, gain benefit from a level of cooperation across the industry.

Industry bodies are often created to facilitate cooperation and coordination of action for an industry. In many cases success is predicated by a first-class capability to manage and share information, and to coordinate activities in each of the participant organisations.

Fundamentally this is a hub and spoke model with the industry body forming the hub. Establishing the body is expensive, time consuming, and transfers control from the participants.

The jigsaw model implemented using Responsiv Cloud Automation Platform supports a federated approach that is simpler and less expensive to initiate and refine, and that does not require a hub to be established.

  • Use case: Customer wants to move accounts from one place to another. An incident requires coordination between all suppliers of services to an address. Any situation that requires an auditable coordination between businesses.
  • Use case: Utility company needs to be connected to their assets for maintenance and monitoring, and to other agencies for notification of incidents.
  • Use case: Mobile workers need to register time and their work status and be informed of their schedule simply and quickly.

Supply Chain

Supply chains generally come about in a random way. Individual participants are responsible for deciding their trading partners, and for developing or procuring the systems they use to control their joint activities.

Politically this is the most efficient and practical way to solve the immediate problem. Implementation projects are controlled and delivered by a single company at a time and cost that makes sense to that company.

Requirements are from a single organisation, and changes are “easy” because they are commissioned and experienced by the same people.

Multi-Agency Supply Chains

When members of a supply chain choose to invest or otherwise cooperate in sharing information and control the challenges extend from making technology work, to dealing with variations in requirements and ability to pay.

  • Smaller participants can end up paying for something they do not want, and that they may never get.
  • Larger participants lose the opportunity to develop their perfect solution in favour of a committee led solution that half delivers.
  • Risk of failure is greatly increased, while cost of success and time to value grow.

A Good Multi-Agency Solution

A good multi-agency solution separates financial and political concerns from technical challenges. It allows all those with an interest to participate, while exerting strong control of shared parts of the solution. Solution delivery is allowed to proceed at the pace appropriate to each stakeholder – without impacting others.

The multi-agency approach achieves this by isolating organisational considerations and requirements from those of the group. This separation is controlled to extend the ability for each stakeholder to behave as part of the group, and for the group to adapt to new challenges.

Multi-Agency Adoption Challenge

The Responsiv multi-agency adoption strategy starts with a question.

If large projects tend to fail, and multi-agency “one size fits all” projects tend to fail, and iterative projects tend to succeed; then can we develop an adoption strategy or method that changes the multi-agency problem into a series of smaller problems that can be iteratively solved?

MAIT

Multi-agency projects (Smarter Cities) characterised by multiple independent decision makers (PEER stakeholders) and conflicting priorities, schedules, and funding constraints.

Progress is slowed by cooperation overheads and different priorities. This leads to difficulties in maintaining project momentum and funding, and solutions that are difficult to change and often too expensive to finish.

Leveraging the architectural principle of separation of concerns, we must reduce independent decision makers (PEER stakeholders), remove conflicting priorities, schedules, and funding constraints, and maintain momentum by clear ownership and regular releases.

Collective Responsibility

Multi-agency project address “big” problems and are the collective responsibility of many organisations, bringing with them multiple funding streams, multiple cultures, cash flow concerns, and imperatives. To be successful all parties must be aligned towards a common goal, and have an alignment of values and philosophy based on shared experience

Cultural change

Any major change of working practice and cultural behaviour is difficult to control or predict and takes time. Traditional approaches demand large investment and big-bang deployment.

  • People need time to adjust
  • Developers need time to learn the problem
  • Everyone needs to manage risk and cash flow

Jigsaw Technology Adoption Strategy

Jigsaw Technology Adoption Strategy is a way of thinking about large IT projects as parts of a puzzle.

Each part is built independently and conforms to an agreed “Interface framework”. Identical software environments assist compatibility and coordination is based on framework not technology or design details.

Release schedules and success are independent for each piece of the puzzle. Each part can connect with the larger puzzle and the “Interface framework” allows business process and integration automations to be shared. The common platform delivers secure federation and data sharing.

The approach delivers local value quickly and efficiently, each party has time to learn and align to common goals, and the multi-agency solution achieved when platforms are federated.

multi-agency

The Jigsaw Adoption strategy allows us to deliver projects that have a lower risk and cost than the alternative big-scope approach. Each piece is often within budget constraints of each stakeholder to support local decision making and allowing individual participants to deliver in accordance with their priorities.

Improved time to value is achieved by incrementally releasing step changes in value rather than waiting for the big-one. The roadmap above shows how clusters of participants can federate parts to deliver a highly resilient regional solution.

Technology is supporting rather than being the strategy. Each piece can be refined at any time to allow agility, for example, augment data with geographic information, or add analytics and business event intelligence.

Responsiv Cloud Automation Platform

Responsiv Cloud Automation Platform (RCAP) can be used by multi-agencies to form a consistent and efficient foundation for their participation in a multi-agency initiative. The platform provides a highly capable information sharing and coordination capability that can be configured to the needs of individual agencies and federated to form a highly resilient multi-agency solution.

The underlying technology allows platforms to be connected to share information while maintaining independence and data security.

Jigsaw Adoption Strategy with Responsiv Cloud Automation Platform

The Jigsaw adoption strategy does not change the technology. It directs how parts of a solution can be developed independently and incrementally and then federated.

Innovation is improved in the initial releases, and agility improved in the future.

The result is that development costs are reduced, Delivery delays and risks are reduced, and control is located with responsibility and funding. Even very large projects deliver to budget.

  • Financial risk reduced
  • Adoption risk reduced
  • Technology risk reduced

Organisational change is managed over time for each participant company and for the way the supply chain operates overall. Technology is used as an enabler for the strategy rather than dictating policy.

  • Grow experience and influence the culture
  • Grow a new culture and set of experiences
  • Introduce new ideas on a small scale in many places at once

Initial project focus for each part is on realising local benefits. Only later is the federation attempted: Only re-organise the pieces to solve the BIG problem when the time is right.

Responsiv Automation

Responsiv specialise in integration and automation for businesses of all sizes and industries. Our consultants have decades of experience with many different vendor technologies and approaches to integration.

We can support your adoption journey and provide objective and valuable insights to support your decision and migration.

Responsiv are partners with Red Hat, Microsoft, and IBM to allow us to access some of the most capable cloud, operating systems, and integration technologies around.

We do not limit ourselves to these vendors, and you can rest assured that our consulting advice is not driven by our partners.

Responsiv Cloud Automation Platform

Our consultants use pre-existing assets to accelerate adoption of the Responsiv Cloud Automation Platform. Our cloud platform is deployed to datacentres located in the UK and can support businesses that need to integrate systems with or without human intervention.

We provide development services and ongoing support for the code we develop, as well as flexible support for your own developers.

Responsiv Unity Automation Platform

Responsiv Unity Automation Platform delivers similar functionality to that available from our cloud platform from the comfort of your own cloud of datacentre. It is fully compatible with the cloud platform and can be deployed across multiple clouds for resilience and right-placing of workloads.

Responsiv Migration

Responsiv has several custom offerings to reduce the cost and distraction of a move to Responsiv Cloud. We can perform assessments and provide pricing that reduces duplicate platform costs and spreads the cost of migration over a committed term.

If any of the mistakes or misconceptions resonate with you then please contact Responsiv for an informal chat.

Richard Whyte

Richard Whyte

Richard Whyte has been building enterprise IT solutions for over 20 years. He is known for creating innovative practical solutions that provide a strong foundation for future development, whilst solving immediate problems. Previously the European CTO and Principal Architect for IBM Systems Middleware at IBM, he has an MBA, a degree in Statistics and Computing, is a Chartered Engineer, a Chartered IT Professional, and Fellow of both the Institute of Technology and the British Computer Society.