EDS White Paper – Lessons Learned: The Canadian Forces Information Management Challenge
The United Kingdom’s Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) program and the U.S. military’s Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) have demonstrated the benefits of major defence information infrastructure transformation programs. More importantly for Canada, those projects generated a list of “lessons learned” that reduce project risk and increase the potential for intended and unanticipated benefits.
The Information Management Services Transformation project is a unique opportunity for Canada to develop information management and its supporting infrastructure at the same time, integrating applications and their supporting infrastructure, networks and security. Previous articles in this series, based on the March 2008 EDS White Paper, Transforming Information Management For Operational Benefit, have made the case for integrated information technology and information management to support the war-fighter. The U.S. and U.K. experiences show the way forward.
NMCI is the largest intranet in the world and the largest government program of its kind, securely interconnecting more than 700,000 service members and civilians at more than 600 locations in the continental United States, Hawaii and Japan. The $9.9 billion contract was awarded in 2000, and after a mandatory 10-year review, the U.S. Navy plans to build on its success with Next Generation Enterprise Networks (NGEN), extending services outside the geographical U.S. to other countries and ships at sea.
The U.K. followed in 2004 with the Defence Information Infrastructure (DII), a 10-year contract valued at £600M per year. There was a commitment to save a minimum of 20 percent a year from the outsourced element. So far, savings are estimated in the 23 to 25 percent range, with most savings in the first six years. Other change projects have reported savings enabled by DII.
Lessons learned from NMCI and DII can and should be studied in the design of a similar Canadian initiative. Five components have been identified as critical to the success of any IM program. The first 90 days of the mobilization phase must establish confidence in the lead service integrator and the service delivery model. The communications channels, metrics and business rules established during mobilization set the foundation for success later.
Effective governance defines the “partnership.” The U.K. DII established a Joint Program Office with representation from the Ministry of Defence, the lead integrator and other partners. Services framework defines the lines of accountability for services activity, establishing clearly which ones will be retained. In today’s complex environment, selecting “best of breed” solutions instead of a single lead integrator can be a risky strategy. An Enterprise Services Management Framework ensures integration of services. Under this framework, DND/CF can choose the best suppliers for individual components while maintaining process integrity.
Benefits realization does more than identify benefits – it quantifies them and tracks progress towards their realization. The business case is only the beginning. The NMCI program, for example, aimed to reduce costs by aggregating servers, but it took a defined initiative to make it happen. With that lesson in mind, MoD set up a dedicated benefits realization team at the outset.
Innovation goes well beyond hardware, software and personnel to include processes, services and contractual terms. It takes agile management to build and maintain agile infrastructure. NMCI was designed as an administrative network to support financial and personnel functionality, but it quickly became apparent after deployment to operational commands like Pacific Fleet and Pacific Command that it was being used as an operational command and control network. At that point, contractual and service delivery changes were made to raise the level of security and reliability to support that functionality.
The U.K.’s DII has had a measurable impact on morale, allowing frontline soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to manage their pay and benefits, for example. Two years ago, when Defence Secretary Des Browne wanted to pay a cash bonus to military personnel serving offshore, he was able to announce the details of a new program in the House of Commons within days.
Within the MoD, senior leadership report that DII offers potential for innovation that multiple networks cannot match. Now, with a single network, “it is much easier to dream.”
Single networks are also easier to defend from cyber-attack. Administrators know all the points of attack and the assets under threat, a lesson that did not appear when the business case was prepared. For its part, the U.S. NMCI has never been penetrated.
A comprehensive IT/IM infrastructure is as essential as food for the war-fighter and fuel for the weapons systems. Is this the right time to undertake a major restructuring of Canada’s military information technology/information management infrastructure? There is no better time. As this series has made clear, DND/CF needs to move forward now to build a world-class IM/IT infrastructure for the future.
The EDS White Paper, Transforming Information Management For Operational Benefit, is available at www.vanguardcanada.com under White Papers. To comment, please contact Emile Lindsay at Emile.Lindsay@eds.com or (613) 787 4613, or Vanguard at IMtransform@networkedgovernment.ca.