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  2. Integrated Product Support (IPS) Element - Information Technology (IT) Systems Continuous Support

Integrated Product Support (IPS) Element - Information Technology (IT) Systems Continuous Support

ALCL 045


Alternate Definition

IT Systems Continuous Support IPS Element includes identifying, planning, resourcing, and acquiring the facilities, hardware, software, firmware, documentation, as well as the manpower and personnel necessary for the planning and management of mission critical computer hardware and software systems. It includes coordinating and and implementing agreements necessary to manage technical interfaces and to manage work performed by continuous software engineering activities, as well as establishing and updating plans for automated and continuous test and certification activities required throughout the life cycle.


General Information

The expense associated with the design and maintenance of software programs is so high that one must manage this process effectively and proactively. The Program Manager (PM) and Product Support Manager (PSM) must participate in the IT Systems and Continuous Support process from program inception to ensure software engineers, systems engineers, users, and PSMs are integrated and collaborating continuously for effective long-term life cycle management of IT systems.

Key factors related to this IPS Element include the following: 

  • Information systems, electronics, and software themselves are often part of the technical data package that defines the current and future configuration baseline of an IT system, adding to the sustainment complexity.  Software technical data comes in many forms to include, but not limited to, specifications, flow/logic diagrams, Computer Software Configuration Item (CSCI) definitions, test descriptions, operating environments, user/maintainer manuals, and computer code.
  • IT systems interface with the Global Information Grid (GIG) via the Defense Information Switch Network (DISN) or other network connectivity so these must be identified, managed, and actively coordinated throughout the life cycle to assure mission critical connectivity.
  • Electromagnetic Compatibility/Interference (EMC/EMI) requirements must be periodically evaluated and tested as weapon systems and mission scenarios evolve.
  • Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and other survivability requirements must be evaluated and tested at specific intervals over the life cycle.
  • System Security/Information Assurance is a total life-cycle management issue, with a constantly evolving cyber threat. Consider cybersecurity and supply chain risk management practices throughout the lifecycle to reduce vulnerabilities.
  • Disaster recovery planning and execution is a requirement for mission critical systems and will be driven by continuity of operations plans of the using organizations.
  • Automated Identification Technology (AIT) is a significant consideration for systems that deploy or components that are transported through standard supply channels for distribution, maintenance, and repair.
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) will be a constant management challenge as commercial methods and standards will change many times during the operational life of a weapon system.
  • PMs, through the PSM, need to coordinate at program inception with an organic software engineering entity in order to identify Intellectual Property (IP) and data rights for inclusion in subsequent contracts. PSMs should collaborate with the software engineers in order to tailor data/license rights acquisition and ensure it is aligned with the acquisition and product support strategies. The PSM will also ensure the data rights and license management strategies are documented within the IP strategy.
  • The PSM will coordinate with the software engineer to develop a holistic business case analysis to determine a best value product support strategy that considers all aspects of hardware and software.

Other important factors related to IT Systems Continuous Support include:

  • Life Cycle Sustainment Planning and Management
  • Program Protection Planning (PPP)
  • Testing, Assessment, and Certification
  • Defense Business Systems (DBS) Management
  • Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) Software licenses management