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Supportability Testing & Evaluation (T&E)

DAU GLOSSARY DEFINITION

Alternate Definition

Supportability T&E is an activity within the Integrated Product Support (IPS) Element of Product Support Management. The primary objectives of Supportability T&E are to inform the development of an affordable system design along with the associated best value performance-based Product Support Strategy (PSS). Supportabilty T&E starts early in the system life cycle by ensuring the design features are included in design planning documents and system specifications and that these design features will reinforce product support goals to be assessed during test activities. The Product Support Manager (PSM) must work with the Systems Engineering (SE) and T&E community to ensure the program testing documentation includes the metrics and means to verify the adequacy of performance and supportability features - including the performance of the vital portions of each of the other applicable IPS Elements. 

Alternate Definition Source

Derived from the DoD PSM Guidebook

General Information

Overall

The Program Manager with support from the PSM must confirm adequacy of the proposed PSS prior to fielding. Evaluation of product supportability can be performed by using data from various sources such as development or support contractor data; Government test results; and other relevant sources. Within the Supportability T&E context analysis will consist of comparing results of the evaluation analysis against criteria based on stated system requirements and goals.

Documentation

The PSM must ensure the SE Plan (SEP) includes the processes to achieve the required sustainment performance along with the contractor reporting requirements and that the Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) clearly expresses the Supportability T&E requirements.

Developmental T&E (DT&E) and Operational T&E (OT&E)

Supportability testing is usually conducted within the controlled conditions of DT&E and in realistic operational environments during OT&E with users that are representative of those expected to operate, maintain, and support the product once fielded. An example of this type of Test could be a Logistics Demonstration (LOG DEMO) or Maintenance Demonstration (M-Demo), these are validation and verification of the maintenance activities as described/contained within the technical publications or other maintenance documents. On balance, supportability testing is designed to demonstrate whether the following satisfy product threshold requirements as planned for the product’s operational environment: personnel skills; support equipment; logistics support; technical manuals; tools; Test Measurement Diagnostic Eequipment (TMDE)--including embedded diagnostics; prognostics; instrumentation and Test Program Sets (TPS). Supportability environmental concerns such as demilitarization and disposal requirements will also be included in T&E process.

SE Process

Supportability T&E activities support the SE process by providing information for evaluation and selection of alternatives, measuring progress, risk identification and management, Configuration Management (CM), and viability of performance metrics. Supportability T&E aids in suitability assessment, support design application of the IPS Elements, PSS development, Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA) considerations, examination of Human Systems Integration (HSI), and observation of Reliability, Availability and Maintainability (RAM) outcomes.

Restrictions on Contractor Support during OT&E

There are supportability testing restrictions associated with Title 10 USC Section 2399, Operational test and evaluation of defense acquisition programs, places specific restrictions on the use of contractor support during OT&E of military systems. Contractor support during tests may be utilized only to the extent that it is planned to be used when the system is deployed in combat. This restriction on the use of contractor support during OT&E may not be waived.

Summary

A weak integrated logistics and sustainment approach can be a huge risk even if the system effectiveness and suitability are otherwise acceptable. Therefore, the supportability of the system must be evaluated early and in an ongoing fashion to serve as a constructive feedback loop to the program office or sustainment organization. This will serve as a means to update and refine the system design and supportability factors as the system development progresses. The bottom line is to provide Warfighters with a system that performs as required and that it is supportable within the parameters outlined in the PSS - all within the program cost estimates.