Project and deliverable objectives. The CIVILEX project seeks to characterise the current state of situational awareness, information exchange and operation control in EU civilian CSDP missions. Through desk research and interviews, the CIVILEX project has examined current used systems and practices, and the institutional context in which EU civilian missions take place. This research has led to requirements for a future Situational Awareness, Information Exchange and Operation Control Platform (OCP), and recommendations for complementary innovation at the organisational and institutional level.
The ‘Roadmap and recommendations for implementation’ document sets forth a roadmap towards implementation of such a future OCP and its surrounding information exchange infrastructure.
Key findings on the current state of affairs. The research in this project has led to the conclusion that information management in EU civilian missions is currently in a rather fragmented state. Despite clear high level formal agreements on communication within the EU civilian mission organisations, in practice there are many collaboration gaps in missions, a lack of consistency in procedures and systems, widespread prevalence of ad-hoc measures and improvisation, and a general lack of strategic vision regarding innovation in information management. Staff members that were interviewed during the project have given many examples of inefficiencies in information sharing within and among CSDP civilian mission organisations and with external partners. Improvement of information management in CSDP civilian missions is therefore widely and warmly welcomed, especially in light of increasing interactions with external partners. Even though most stakeholders agree that technology on itself is insufficient to solve current shortcomings, the development of an integrated mission-spanning information platform is seen as a crucial asset to ensure that future EEAS civilian missions can meet their objectives.
General recommendations for OCP development. Based on the assessment of the current state of affairs, the CIVILEX project has set forth a comprehensive list of recommendations regarding the development of an OCP. The most prominent recommendation is that the development of an OCP should be a comprehensive effort that combines advances on the technological, organisational and institutional level. The OCP itself is envisioned as a permanent system under the control of the Civilian Operations Commander which branches out into mission organisations when they are launched. Despite this centralised control at HQ level, it is recommended that, in line with the formal sovereignty of missions, Heads of Mission maintain governance over their OCP mission branch and have controls to grant or deny access to information and functions.
On the technical level, many recommendations point to a modular, flexible and user-centered platform that can be easily adapted to changing mission environments, and can be extended over time with new functionalities. The platform enables information exchange with varying levels of security, and provides streamlined, integrated access to relevant sources of information to stakeholders in the field and at HQ level. While the core functions of the OCP should focus on operational information, it is recommended to also let the platform support functionalities that help to manage people, budgets and payments, buildings and assets – or be linked closely to such systems.
On the organisational level, it is recommended to build towards more standardised information management procedures (SOPs, SOIs) and implement standard information management roles and responsibilities in mission organisations (e.g. information manager, security manager and corresponding tasks). In general, we recommend to take explicit steps towards a more information-centric organisation with centrally-organised information access management, default archiving and business continuity measures and inclusive support for informal communication means (e.g. chat applications, informal file sharing and teamwork support). There is also a need to improve security awareness among mission organisations, especially with respect to information exchange and processing. A ‘security officer’ role could provide the leadership to cultivate security awareness.
On the institutional level, most recommendations point towards removing barriers that hamper the development of information-centric organisation, such as financing constraints for innovation, strict information sharing agreements with internal and external parties and decision making structures. More specifically, we recommend the establishment of a central body dealing with standardized architectures, SOP, SOI's across missions. The majority of interviewed staff members indicate that a central body with a strong mandate is a key asset to ensure that mission staff complies with future directives for information handling. Additionally, standing and future information management procedures need to be aligned with institutional decision making structures. This needs to be arranged at the institutional level.
An OCP development roadmap. D5.3 offers a concept for an OCP development roadmap. An important premise for this roadmap is that it should be grounded in a clearly defined information management innovation ambition. At the moment, there is no clearly set vision for developing information management structures, and there are no clear, practical performance objectives either. For this reason, the project recommends to start the development trajectory with an explicit ‘point of departure’ at which there is clarity about strategic vision, operational objectives and clearly defined performance ambitions. After that point has been reached, we recommend to set at least three major waypoints.
At the first waypoint, ‘focus on efficiency’, there is a basic version of the OCP in place that removes most current inefficiencies in information sharing. The OCP brings efficiency to information management and operation control without much required change to work processes or institutional arrangements, but introduces a streamlined, integrated information environment to field and HQ staff.
At the following waypoint, ‘step change’, mission organisation takes a major step towards being an information-centric organisation with new procedures, new roles and new information processing and collaboration functions for the OCP. The OCP provides flexible collaboration functions and will have a more pro-active role in disseminating information, aggregating data into actionable information and creating situation and operation overviews to support decision making. On an organisational level is the establishment of dedicated information manager roles and the greater autonomy of mission staff to establish their own information environment.
The subsequent ‘transformation stage’ waypoint represents a stage at which the mission organisation becomes truly agile and networked, where structures and decisions at the technological, organisational and institutional level are all designed to allow missions to work in a self-organising, network-centric manner – with the OCP being the driving force that seamlessly connects missions and external parties while safeguarding information security and access control.
D5.3 provides further outlines for these waypoints. Additionally, the document provides a number of general principles that should be implemented in the actual OCP development roadmap, such as explicit evaluation and decision phases and explicit leadership and ample long-term funding for the effort.