What if there was a simple metric to capture the facility user’s perspective and the relative mission value of all the assets you manage. How could this help you better manage hundreds or even thousands of different assets at a large installation, a city, or even among many different installations worldwide? Now imagine if that data could be acquired through a standardized interview process. This process is faster and more economical than traditional Masterplans which often take many months or longer to complete. In fact, an entire site is interviewed within a single week on-site for as many as 1,000 or more unique physical assets. 

The Mission
Dependency Index
(MDI) links mission achievement to facility operations. This helps measure the Agencies mission dependency upon individual facilities.

How might such a metric change the traditional paradigm of engineering repair of infrastructure towards better life cycle management of assets supporting the organization’s mission and purpose? You may have heard the phrase “innovate or die,” often credited to Peter Drucker, the founder of modern management theory. Fasten your seatbelts and be ready to think of infrastructure in a new and different way that can dramatically increase the value achieved from the assets and resources your organization controls! This includes developing and using metrics and data, and information technology to improve your organization’s mission-focused performance. This four-part blog introduces the Mission Dependency Index (MDI). MDI has proven to be highly effective when prioritizing a growing backlog of deferred maintenance in a resource-constrained environment. This series will show how Federal Agencies achieve these objectives for complex and distributed infrastructure systems worldwide. A few examples we will share include the US Air Force and US Army National Guard readiness centers who are utilizing over 60,000 MDI data points across the globe to better support their missions.

Let’s discuss the basic approach and context of the Mission Dependency Index. It is a metric that captures the value of infrastructure to the mission from the operational user’s perspective to inform resource decisions better. It is driven by the mission of the organization, not the physical facility characteristics. MDI has been used for almost two decades by various federal agencies for strategic asset management decision-making1. The metric uses the operational risk management terms ‘probability’ and ‘severity’ and applies them to the facility-centric concepts of “interruptability” and “replicability.”

The MDI scoring process begins by asking the facility users two survey questions about the buildings and infrastructure relevant to their mission. The entire interview process for an installation is completed within a single week, requiring only limited time from mission operators and installation personnel.

The first question is “Interruptability” which assesses how quickly mission readiness is impacted if a facility’s operations are disrupted.  The second question is “Replicability” which evaluates how difficult a facility is to relocate, reconstitute, or replicate mission-enabling capabilities if a facility’s operations are interrupted.  When combined, these two perspectives provide a simple, objective, and credible way to associate mission readiness with facility operations.

Question 1 Interruptability:

How fast would the unit’s mission capabilities be impacted if the functional capabilities in building ___ were interrupted?

Question 2 Replicability:

How difficult would it be for the unit to relocate or replicate functional capabilities if this facility’s operations were interrupted?

As an example, we would ask Question 1 for a school or training facility. Since classes are not held on a 24/7 basis, the training mission of graduating students this semester would not be immediately impacted. In this example, classes are only held 5 days per week so the unavailability of the facility for a single day would not impact the mission. However, after a few days, the training schedule is impacted so the correct answer for Question 1 would be “Short.”

Next, we ask Question 2 for the schoolhouse. Our scoring guidance indicates that if there are two existing facilities that can be used to accomplish the mission and both are readily available, the answer would be “Possible.” If an alternate facility exists but requires unbudgeted time and money to utilize, the answer would be “Difficult” or “Extremely Difficult” depending upon the amount of money and manpower required. And if there is not another facility that can be used within the foreseeable future, the answer would be “Impossible.” Examples of Impossible assets include 24/7 manned facilities, unique laboratory facilities, and IT communication hubs feeding mission-critical functions.

In the next blog post, we’ll show how the MDI and the Relative Mission Importance of facilities can be used to optimize resource decisions at the portfolio level. This enables centralized resource managers to become better informed when comparing the needs of a particular facility against the needs of other facilities within the portfolio.

¹The MDI was co-developed by the Coast Guard and Navy in 2002.  Since that time the Air Force, Navy, Army National Guard, and NASA have used the MDI to support mission-oriented, risk-based resource decision making.