What is the ROI on CM ?
What is the ROI for Government performing CM versus Developers/Vendors
Configuration management (CM) is defined as a process for establishing and maintaining consistency of a product's performance, functional and physical attributes with its requirements, design and operational information throughout its life. Most would recognize the expected return on such investment (ROI), in terms of weapons system availability and lessened sustainment costs, as intuitive or self-evident (with such return accruing regardless of what entity had the more major role in the configuration management process) even if ROI is difficult to quantify in dollars.
Open full Question Details
The delineation of responsibilities for configuration management between contractors and government has shifted markedly in recent years. Where historically government imposed its own configuration management requirements on contractors via military standards, today a major share of configuration control authority has shifted to contractors, of course with the DoD configuration management activity still continuing to provide assurance of supportability and interoperability of military equipment and software. As DoD's standards for configuration management have evolved to the use of industry standards rather than military standards, DoD has adopted ANSI/EIA-649, "National Consensus Standard for Configuration Management," as the guiding document providing the basic principles of configuration management.
Since the government retains ultimate responsibility for the performance and configuration of the systems and equipment it acquires and operates, the government is always the configuration control authority for the top-level performance attributes, and for selected lower level performance and design attributes that it specifies and contracts for. But, a significant degree of authority for configuration control may be exercised by contractors during any or all phases of the life cycle, depending on such factors as type of acquisition, contractual requirements, and ownership of the data. While there may be variations for a specific acquisition (or modification of an existing Configuration Item or system), Section 4 of the Military Handbook-Configuration Management Guidance (MIL-HDBK-61A) provides a solid breakdown of typical contractor vs. government roles in the process.
ANSI/EIA-649 summarizes the benefits of CM as follows:
- Product attributes are defined. Provides measurable performance parameters. Both Buyer and Seller have a common basis for acquisition and use of the product.
- Product configuration is documented and a known basis for making changes is established. Decisions are based on correct, current information. Production repeatability is enhanced.
- Products are labeled and correlated with their associated requirements, design and product information. The applicable data (such as for procurement, design or servicing the product) is accessible, avoiding guesswork and trial and error.
- Proposed changes are identified and evaluated for impact prior to making change decisions. Downstream surprises are avoided. Cost and schedule savings are realized.
- Change activity is managed using a defined process. Costly errors of ad hoc, erratic change management are avoided.
- Configuration information, captured during the product definition, change management, product build, distribution, operation, and disposal processes [the equivalent of the DoD acquisition life cycle], is organized for retrieval of key information and relationships, as needed. Timely, accurate information avoids costly delays and product down time; ensures proper replacement and repair; and decreases maintenance costs.
- Actual product configuration is verified against the required attributes. Incorporation of changes to the product is verified and recorded throughout the product life. A high level of confidence in the product information is established.
The MIL-HDBK-61A points out these benefits are equally applicable to government and industry. Additionally, the effective application of CM principles to defense products contributes to and enhances the partnering environment desired between the DoD and its suppliers.
In the absence of CM, or where it is ineffectual, there may be:
- Equipment failures due to incorrect part installation or replacement;
- Schedule delays and increased cost due to unanticipated changes;
- Operational delays due to mismatches with support assets;
- Maintenance problems, down-time, and increased maintenance cost due to inconsistencies between equipment and its maintenance instructions; and,
- Numerous other circumstances which decrease operational effectiveness, and add cost. The severest consequence is catastrophic loss of expensive equipment and human life.
The point is that the intent of CM is to avoid cost and minimize risk. Those who consider the small investment in the CM process a cost-driver may not be considering the compensating benefits of CM and may be underestimating the cost, schedule and technical risk of an inadequate or delayed CM process.