Coordination and collaboration for humanitarian operational excellence: big data and modern information processing systems

Pervaiz Akhtar, Victoria Sophie Osburg, Gaurav Kabra, Subhan Ullah, Haseeb Shabbir, Sushma Kumari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Humanitarian operational excellence depends on effective coordination and collaboration not only between supply chain partners but also among other actors such as host government, local and international non-government organisations (NGOs), and donors. Importantly, effective coordination and collaboration are facilitated by big data and modern information processing (BDMIP) systems that are complex and interlocked with contemporary information and communication technology (ICT). This study simplifies BDMIP systems by using a comprehensive methodology (literature review and a multi-criteria decision-making approach, called the analytic network process) and explores its key determinants and other interconnected factors. The data were collected from humanitarian managers, working in horizontally (e.g. governments, local and international humanitarian organisations) and vertically (e.g. supply chain partners) collaborated organisations. Three systems (manual, semi-automated, and fully automated) are investigated, which depend on various determinants for operational excellence interlinked with modern big data technology and its components. The results indicate that dynamic compatibility is the most important determinant for such systems to support operational excellence, followed by real-time response, cost, end-to-end visibility, and operational service quality. The implementation of fully automated systems is less cost-effective. This attributes to contemporary dimensions and enablers (e.g. the internet of things, big data collection and analytics, effective data and information sharing, modern unmanned aerial vehicles (called drones), skills for mining structured and unstructured data, among others). Semi-automated systems are also imperative for certain enablers (e.g. data accuracy, data reliability, and personalised data exchange). This study concludes by discussing these findings and their implications for practitioners; how they can combine these technical and operational foundations to execute humanitarian operational excellence and to build effective coordination and collaboration among involved parties. It further provides suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-721
Number of pages17
JournalProduction Planning and Control
Issue number6-7
Early online date26 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


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