This is part three of a multi-article series on the Mission Dependency Index (MDI).  The first article Mission Dependency Index (MDI): Harnessing the mission value of infrastructure introduced MDI as a way to improve resource decisions and gain greater value from physical assets.  The second article MDI Part II covered how an interview-based mission metric such as Tactical MDI (T-MDI) can be used at a single location such as a city or campus to better support organizational mission.  These two articles establish a foundation on how MDI functions in tactical terms. This article extends MDI concepts and introduces an Operational MDI (O-MDI) that further improves enterprise risk-based resource and decision making.  O-MDI is complementary to T-MDI, and provides greater insight into how facilities support large, complex, and distributed mission demands. 

As described in the first two articles, T-MDI measures the relative importance of facilities in terms of mission requirements from the perspective of operators/managers who use the facilities. This Mission focus is different than the traditional engineering perspective that centers on facility Condition in terms of Risk Management. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) MDI User Guide summarizes this in the following quotation¹: 

MDI provides a logically consistent, risk-based approach to assessing the importance of facilities among multi-mission and multi-location organizations.

From The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) MDI User Guide

As a Facility Engineer, I found that managing assets within a single fence line was often challenging and complex. Optimizing the value of investments becomes even more complex when balancing resources across different sites and diverse geographies. Imagine how challenging it would be to distribute funding to multiple sites each having a number of highly-scored assets that collectively require more investment than available funding. To solve this, O-MDI utilizes mission thread analysis to augment the local perspective provided by T-MDI with the senior Operational Commander’s view.  Because missions can take place over numerous installations and geographic locations, a siloed focus on one installation means only a portion of the mission is captured and key criticalities and dependencies may be overlooked. Therefore, the Operational Commander’s view is often different than the local perspective about the same physical assets.  O-MDI documents which sites have greater mission value as compared to others.  This becomes a way to manage risk at an enterprise level for specific contingencies and operations.  Different layers of MDI as shown below can be combined in multiple ways to better optimize resource decisions.  When the O-MDI and T-MDI agree, the organization can use this agreement to increase confidence in resource and investment decisions.   

Figure (1) Tactical, Operational, and Strategic MDI

Figure (1) Tactical, Operational, and Strategic MDI 

As an example, the US Army National Guard (ARNG) employed O-MDI to support the Readiness Center Transformation Master Plan (RCTMP) completed in 2014.  The RCTMP was submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee to explain and justify over $27B in combined MILCON and SRM investments over a 15-year period. O-MDI was an essential part of the business case because it linked how each MILCON and SRM dollar supported State and National ARNG mission objectives.  Without the O-MDI, the business case for this was not compelling and amounted to a compilation of master plans developed by each State with no clear message on how one State’s project was more important than another. 

Figure (2) Army National Guard Readiness Center Investment Strategy

Figure (2) Army National Guard Readiness Center Investment Strategy 

This highly successful effort demonstrated that the O-MDI scores for current and future portfolios could be rapidly and accurately developed using tabletop exercises.  Using O-MDI, the result was transformed from simply another Master Plan to a compelling and actionable business case analysis. Rather than discussing the perceived merits of one site over another and political issues, the discussion centered around the O-MDI documenting the mission value of each site.  Sites with lower MDI scores were then successfully recommended for divestiture.  Most importantly, the overall portfolio was still able to meet mission demands while also becoming affordable to maintain.  

Successfully divesting unaffordable assets is especially important as federal agencies and private sector organizations struggle to maintain portfolios of aging buildings and infrastructure with limited available funding. Using MDI metrics supports more optimal resource and investment decision making while gaining greater visibility and understanding of risks.   

In the next article, we’ll describe the third and final level of MDI – Strategic MDI (S-MDI) which looks into the future for emerging mission needs. S-MDI is a newly emerging metric that captures the longer-term organizational strategy looking years into the future. We’ll show how the United States Air Force is considering all three layers of MDI and how they work together to manage risk.  Lastly, we’ll discuss how combining mission metrics such as MDI with Condition Index data can tailor investment strategies with a goal of limiting degradation to less mission critical facilities.

¹ The NSTA Mission Dependency Index (MDI) User Guide Version 2.0 November 2010