Vjom - Fotolia

MoD ditches spreadsheets for SaaS-based collaboration tool

The Ministry of Defence is taking advantage of G-Cloud for collaboration software to manage its global activities

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is managing some of its activities around the world through a cloud-based collaboration tool that was designed by a former Royal Navy IT expert.

The MoD was able to stop using multiple spreadsheets after buying a Linkspace data management software service from Ctrl O through G-Cloud. The deal also demonstrates the financial advantages of software as a service (SaaS) that does not require upfront development.

The collaboration tool can be shared by disparate teams. Its bespoke nature attracted the MoD because it allowed the organisation to get a tool for a very specific task, which might include one-off business processes – in this case, managing global engagements. But at the same time, it requires little customisation.

The software has replaced the use of spreadsheets to manage defence engagements, which had limitations. Data integrity was poor and there was limited version control due to a lack of simultaneous editing capabilities. There was also no visibility or control over changes made.

Read more about IT at the MoD

  • Enduring Challenge seeks to bring innovative technology to the front line for the UK’s armed forces and security services.
  • Microsoft’s UK Azure cloud is now fully operational, offering Azure cloud services and Office 365.
  • The Ministry of Defence plans a Dragons’ Den-type competition for futuristic technology ideas such as dragonfly drones, mobile robots and laser weapons.

Ctrl O managing director Andy Beverley was previously an IT expert in the Royal Navy.

“Throughout my Royal Navy career, I saw a lot of one-off bespoke requirements. The military was going out and developing bespoke software from scratch, and I thought there might be a niche for a software platform that was already developed,” he said.

This is quicker to deploy and configured to specific needs, he added.

“There was a common theme with all of [the bespoke systems] – they all needed items of data that could be updated and tracked by lots of people securely,” said Beverley.

He said 95% of the requirement could be provided off the shelf, with the final 5% by configuration. Beverley then developed Linkspace and set up Ctrl O.

The MoD now has 600 people globally using the system, which includes all defence attachés across the world.

Due to the nature of the MoD’s work, it was important that there was tight security and control of access, which many collaboration tools couldn’t offer. Its bespoke nature was also important because many available enterprise collaboration systems require in-house teams to do development work to make it fit the requirement.

The Ministry of Justice is another customer of Ctrl O.

At £5 per user per month, it demonstrates the advantages of cloud-based services that have already been approved for use.

Richard Sykes, chair of the Cloud Industry Forum, said: “Deployed globally by the MoD, Linkspace saved 90% of the original budget estimate and was deployed four times faster than originally anticipated. This is the clearest example of G-Cloud delivering success for the ministry and for the taxpayer.”

Read more on Cloud applications

Data Center
Data Management