The 2005 Defence Industrial Strategy recognised that complex, technologically challenging and high-value platforms require a through-life approach to acquisition, one that facilitates improved performance, affordability and coherence for new battle winning capabilities. It also accepted the need for a more fundamental change in MOD’s relationship with industry. Moving from an arms-length to a long-term ‘partnering’ model with open and transparent information sharing.

MOD estimates that its proportion of through-life defence acquisition will grow from 20% in 2007 to 65% by 2017. Whilst there are different forms, in essence, throughlife contracts integrate all services (traditionally bought separately) under a single prime contract incentivised with output-based performance mechanisms. Improvements are realised in many ways such as by incentivising industry to provide more integrated, innovative and cost-effective support solutions. A key enabler for improvements is information and the ability to share and collaborate effectively across traditional MOD and industry partner boundaries.

The Successor naval shipbuilding programme is already considering its information requirements through-life in order to be able to maintain a continuous, at-sea deterrent, which is the primary aim of the programme. It has created a more information-centric operating model. The Successor programme is achieving this in two ways. Firstly, rather than wait until end of build, the In-service partner was brought in from the outset as an integral member of the Consortium design team. This allows supportability engineering within design of both the platform and its enabling information lifecycle. The In-service partner brings all the lessons learnt from existing platforms allowing problems to be resolved at root cause within original design. It allows information requirements to be defined upfront so information is managed as a strategic asset: acquired, validated, stored,shared and updated through-life. This provides quicker,higher quality and more accurate information to inform decisions delivering improved performance and cost savings.

Secondly, echoing a key theme in the Defence Information Strategy 2005, information-centricity places a heavyreliance on successfully tackling the barriers to longterm partnering and information sharing. Team Defence remains on a journey to overcome the legal, commercial, cultural, intellectual property, ITAR, security and technical barriers that impact performance and cost.

The Successor Case Study is informing the Joint Information Group (JIG) - a joint MOD-Industry forum that sponsors performance improvements and cost savings through better information sharing. It is a key step toward a more agile, collaborative and information-centric operating model. It should be seen as a key step point on the road.

Encouraging results to date indicate that this is just the start of exploiting Information Value Chain Analysis. Looking broader than Successor at the pan-defence context in which the JIG operates, it might now consider how to:

Culture. Create the sponsorship, governance and programme structures to address remaining barriers to long-term partnering and information sharing.

Commercial. Move beyond project specific information sharing agreements towards the full scope of Lord Levene’s vision (Defence Reform, June 2011) for a single information environment within a new Defence

Operating Model. Operations. Take the widest possible view of information requirements in terms of fleet, programme and mission to support fully costed through-life decision making.

Technology. Avoid fragmenting data into different systems (particularly engineering and asset management) enabling a coherent view of the joint support chain by integrating data and enabling its full exploitation to deliver benefits. Also recognising the multiple tiers within a supply network and the imperative of secure access to a single federated information environment. Finally, it should consider the infrastructure for end-to-end connectivity, noting the move to Total Support Force operation.

Standards. Create and adopt standards that work in a through-life context. As part of this, significant effort is now being directed by the international standards organisation, product lifecycle management vendors and industry leaders to establish a standard through-life data architecture for the management of complex defence assets.

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  • Angus  Ward
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