This document is the second iteration of the Implementation Plan prepared in 2004 and should be read in conjunction with the previous Plan which sets out this Department’s mandate; mission; structures and staffing; services and outputs; budgets; customer base and key relationships.
The current Plan has been prepared in fulfillment of the requirements set by the Decentralisation Implementation Group (DIG) following its reports of July and November 2004 and reflects the position regarding the decentralisation of this Department’s Dublin-based headquarters to Newbridge in light of developments which have taken place since that time. In this regard, the Department of Defence is over-subscribed in terms of total applicants to transfer to the new location at Newbridge and has been chosen as an early-mover organisation under Table 1 of the November 2004 report of the DIG.
Following the release of data from the Central Applications Facility (CAF), it has become apparent that the volume of applicants wishing to transfer to the new location – some 385 civil servants - exceeds the number of posts available (199) and has resulted in this Department’s staffing requirement being over-subscribed across the grades. The data has revealed that interest in relocation is far greater among civil servants in other Departments than it is in the Department itself, with only 20% of applications coming from Defence staff. Among the number of internal staff who have indicated a willingness to transfer – 78 in total - the Department would be aware from local knowledge that not all of these applications will translate into an actual eventual transfer: some staff made applications to the CAF simply as a ‘holding exercise’ and while awaiting developments on the position which would obtain in respect of Dublin posts.
The major staff-related issues identified in the previous Plan as having the potential to impact on the Department continue to apply, as does the need to manage them sensitively. The Department is committed to taking all necessary steps to minimise potential disruption to both staff and to the continuity of Defence business.
The considerable body of internal/corporate knowledge which will depart with those staff not opting to move to Newbridge, and the time it will take for replacement staff to acquire such knowledge, continues to remain the most significant risk. As an initial step towards addressing this difficulty, comprehensive job guides and manuals, where they do not already exist, will be prepared. The requirement to compensate for the anticipated loss of a large element of the existing staff will be partially met by the redeployment to key posts of existing staff willing to relocate. This will commence in the coming months and will continue to be reviewed and refined as time progresses.
It is also essential that there would be a sufficient overlap between outgoing and incoming staff to facilitate a transfer of knowledge to the new staff.
Staffing and HR Issues
Newbridge as a location may encourage some existing staff to remain with the Department and to commute from their current address. The efficient introduction of e-working may help to improve possibilities for the retention of some of these staff members. Use of the Government VPN and the Business IP+ Reach initiative to implement e-working in as wide a range of jobs as suitable across the Department continues to be examined. The security, cost implications and health and safety considerations central to these issues continue to be considered. The principal factor whereby not all positions or individuals would be suitable for e-working continues to feature as somewhat of a difficulty in formulating a definitive policy in this regard, especially as an increase in demand may have implications for service delivery.
In the context of the current decentralisation programme, as it has evolved so far, the concerns of non-movers have not yet been addressed to the same degree as those who are to move and this has caused a measure of discontent. Against this background and in order to ensure that the move to Newbridge takes place as smoothly as possible, Defence management has taken an active role in ensuring that there are good communications with the staff on all aspects of the relocation as these develop.
Training and Development
As set out in the previous Plan, the key areas on which training and development will be concentrated in the early stages of the decentralisation project are:
change management – understanding the forces at work in large scale change;
communications strategy for existing staff and new staff;
preserving the culture, ethos and values of the organisation;
planning for the move – practical project management skills;
preparing line managers for the tranistion – building skills in leadership, motivation, coaching and teambuilding;
knowledge management – how we do things / why we do things;
preserving the organisation memory – quickly improving practical record managments and filing practices, both manual and electronic;
preparing staff for the transition – effective handover of all aspects of a job to a successor;
process mapping – documenting in an effective way the policies and procedures for each post / each Branch;
business process improvement – can the Department positively use the opportunity offered by the move to improve business processes?
To date progress on the above is as follows:
Planning for the move – practical project management skills
Some training has been undertaken in this area and it is intended that this will be suplemented in the near future.
Preparing line managers for the transistion – building skills in leadership, motivation, coaching and teambuilding
Some progress has been made in this area in that a very successful teamworking course has been developed in-house and it is intended to provide a team leadership course later this year. In addition, a course on on-the-job training has also been devised in-house.
Preserving the organisation memory – quickly improving practical record management & filing practices, both manual and electronic
Training is required to ensure the effective transfer of knowledge to new entrants through the management and organisation of the existing knowledge base. It is intended that members of the Decentralisation Working Group, Training and Development Section and as many staff as possible attend the proposed CMOD course on this topic.
Process mapping – documenting in an effective way the policies and procedures for each post/each Branch and
Business process improvement
It is vital to the successful decentralisation of the Department that staff are equipped with the skills necessary to draft meaningful step-by-step job guides and the Department envisages sending as many staff as possible on the proposed CMOD course as soon as it becomes available. Planning and Organisation Branch already has some expertise in this area and also in the area of business process movement and will assist Training and Development Section in these aspects.
Information Systems Branch(ISB)
The Branch provides a comprehensive range of IT related services to the Department and its customers through the use of modern information and communication technologies. ICT systems are already critical to the successful operation of core departmental services and functions and there is growing demand for e-enabled service delivery.
As previously identified, the modernisation of our ICT infrastructure is ongoing, major applications in the financial and administrative areas have been developed. The support and development for these and other mission critical applications will continue to command significant financial and human resources. The Department is currently in the process of implementing a departmental wide Management Information Framework (MIF).
Staffing in ISB.
Of the 25 posts, 11 are based at headquarters in Dublin and 14 are based in Renmore. A large proportion of the staff is very experienced having served in ISB in their previous appointments. The management tier of PO, APO and HEO has all worked in ISB for more than ten years each. To date ISB has maintained high levels of self-sufficiency and minimised its reliance on external ICT consultancy resources. The possibility of the CAF not meeting our requirements and the retention of existing staff or replacement with suitable experienced and qualified staff are real concerns.
The preparation of a detailed timeline schedule for the relocation of the Department to its new location at Newbridge is dependent on the acquisition of an appropriate site and the construction of a building which incorporates the significant security features that are required having regard to the nature of Defence business. These requirements were set out comprehensively in the first Implementation Plan.
The acquisition of a suitable site is currently the subject of ongoing discussions between the Office of Public Works and Kildare County Council and the outcome of these deliberations is awaited. The Office of Public Works is fully aware of this Department’s specific requirements in the areas of security and, as has been stated in the previous Plan, the general minimum requirement is for a building that is a stand-alone structure on a completely self-contained campus. It is the Department’s position that the choice of site will have to be be determined by these specific requirements and the Office of Public Works have been apprised accordingly. Furthermore, it is assumed that the period from start of construction of the building in Q4 2005 to its completion in Q2 2007 as set out in the DIG’s November Report takes account of these security considerations and the impact of providing them has been factored into a provisional construction schedule. The Department continues to keep its stated accommodation requirements at the new location under review and to refine them in consultation with the Office of Public Works. Significant in this regard is the decision to relocate the offices of the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, together with the two Deputy Chiefs of Staff and support staff and totalling some 30 people, at the Newbridge location, rather than in the Curragh and the modification of the accommodation requirements that flow from that decision.
4. Business Continuity
As a customer-focussed organisation, it is a priority for the Department of Defence that our customers will not experience a loss or deterioration of service as a result of the decentralisation of our Offices to Newbridge.
As stated earlier, the main difficulty that will arise from the decentralisation process will be the loss of skilled and experienced staff as they move to other Departments and the introduction on a large scale of new staff to the organisation. The loss of corporate memory is one of the major risk factors that we have identified.
The decentralisation process will also provide the Department with an opportunity to review current processes and procedures, and to implement change. Process mapping to identify current processes and Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) is necessary to overcome the difficulties presented by the loss of experienced staff and to benefit fully from this opportunity. This work has commenced in order to take maximum advantage of the knowledge base of staff currently in place. It has started with the processes to be impacted most by the implementation of the Management Information Framework project and is being undertaken with the Decentralisation Project also in mind. Work practices, staffing levels and grades will all be subject to examination in the course of these reviews, with a focus on efficiency and with a view to making the maximum use of technology.
The creation of job guides within Branches and Sections (where not already in existence) will be an important task, and will follow the process mapping and BPR process, in order to take account of process change. Further efficiency improvements may be made once decentralising staff are in place, as they will bring with them the experience of their careers in other organisations, which may well benefit Defence. Job guides should therefore remain under review.
The Department will take full advantage of the training opportunities that CMOD has arranged for decentralising Departments and the Training Needs of staff have been identified as part of PMDS.
The organisational structures in the Department have been reviewed in recent years, and will be reviewed again following the completion of the BPR exercise in the Branches.
Business planning and performance measurement and management will be enhanced by the full implementation of the MIF.
5. Business process mapping and re-engineering:
A team from the Planning & Organisation Branch of the Department will undertake reviews of the Branches and offices decentralising, with a view to identifying improvements in the current processes. This Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) has commenced in the context of the implementation of the Oracle e-Business Suite as part of MIF and some of the Department’s main processes are currently under review. It is hoped to take maximum advantage of the knowledge base of staff currently in place. Work practices, staffing levels and grades are all subject to examination in the course of these reviews. Quality customer services are a priority and recommendations will seek to make the maximum use of technology. The Information Systems Branch (ISB) will have the responsibility of implementing any technical solutions recommended as a result of these reviews.
BPR reports and recommendations will be supplied to and agreed with local management and ISB. These reports will then be submitted to the Management Advisory Committee (MAC) and to any other Branches affected by the proposals contained in the reports.
This work is the main focus for Planning & Organisation Branch staff over the next 12 to 1824 months. Its success will depend on the continuing availability of the staff within that Branch being available to carry out the reviews. Given the timescale, reviews will be necessarily less detailed than the very comprehensive evaluation studies completed in the past. Such reviews will require a substantial resource allocation on behalf of the Branches also, with full co-operation of the staff in the Branches required to ensure that processes are correctly mapped and that recommendations are feasible. It is envisaged that these reviews may take up to an average of 6 weeks each to complete, depending on the level of complexity and the numbers of processes to be mapped in each Branch. It is estimated that such reviews can be completed by early 2007.
6. Project management
The relocation to Newbridge will be managed as a project by the Department’s Decentralisation Implementation Group. The membership of the group, which is chaired by the Human Resources Manager, is made up of managers from the human resources, policy, planning, and information systems branches, all of which areas are seen to be vital to the success of the overall project. The Group reports to the Department’s Management Advisory Committee and also provides for the dissemination of information to staff through the Partnership Committee and on the dedicated decentralisation segment of the Department’s Intranet. Training in project management skills for the members of the Group has commenced.
The Department continues to make progress towards a successful relocation of its headquarters to Newbridge. However, the early acquisition of a suitable site or building is a critical factor. As identified in the previous Plan, because of the proximity of Newbridge to the greater Dublin area, many of this Department’s staff, depending on where they are living, may have an element of choice as to whether or not they will commute to the new location. A key factor influencing staff who are considering commuting will be the proximity of the new offices to the train station/bus route. However, the as-yet undecided position regarding the future of staff who wish to remain in Dublin is hampering such staff in making their decision. This, in turn, continues to have implications for the Department