Best Practices from the Experts
A Defense Systems Management College (DSMC) colleague shared some particularly invaluable insights related to Acquisition Strategy development in a blog post entitled “Acquisition Strategy – Best Practices from Milestone Decision Authorities (MDA)" earlier this week.” Highly encourage you to take a look at it.
Responses from Milestone Decision Authorities (MDA) who were asked “what best practices do you have regarding Acquisition Strategy development?” included:
· Challenge the requirement when it doesn’t make sense – don’t just accept the undeliverable/untestable/unaffordable requirement
· A PM needs to think like an entrepreneur – be more business-like in making programmatic decisions
· Affordability equals the maximum the Government will pay for development/production. Be willing to walk away from a bad deal
· Adaptability/expandability needs to be baked into the program – allow for future capability growth up front
· Ensure schedule margin in development and testing. Ensure the testing program is in sync with the risk
· Focus on lowering the risk across the program. In general, lowest risk should be to the operator. Don’t bring a strategy forward with a RED risk
What do you think? On target? What else, if anything, would you include on such a list?
I personally believe this list has broader application beyond just the acquisition strategy. For product support managers (PSM) or senior life cycle logisticians tasked to craft a product support strategy, the wisdom contained herein has directly applicability to your Life Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP) development.
While it is entirely appropriate to walk away from a bad deal, the statement that “affordability equals the maximum the Government will pay for development/production” risks being problematic, however, if longer-term life cycle sustainment were inadvertently excluded from the equation. Life cycle management, as articulated by DoDD 5000.01, Para E1.29, assigns the Program Manager as “the single point of accountability for accomplishment of program objectives for total life cycle systems management, including sustainment… “ and goes on to require “PMs shall consider supportability, life cycle costs, performance, and schedule comparable in making program decisions,” including the acquisition strategy development.” A more appropriate definition of affordability arguably can be found in the USD(AT&L) 24 Apr 13 "Implementation Directive for Better Buying Power 2.0 - Achieving Greater Efficiency and Productivity in Defense Spending" memo which reinforces the life cycle management imperative by saying “a program is defined to be affordable if the driving cost elements – usually production and sustainment – can be accommodated within the modernization and recapitalization plan for the portfolio.”
In addition to the best practices identified above, the “Acquisition Strategy – Best Practices from Milestone Decision Authorities (MDA)” blog also contained a list of the “Top Ten Acquisition Strategy Questions to ask yourself” that included:
1. What is my intended outcome?
2. What resources do I need to achieve this outcome?
3. Other than resources, what help do I need? Do I have those agreements?
4. What alternatives were considered to achieve my objectives?
5. Why is my option the superior alternative?
6. What ways can I fail to execute my plan?
7. What do I need to reduce probability of failure?
8. What organization will I use to apply resources?
9. What external approvals are needed for success?
10. What metrics will I use to determine progress?
From a product support strategy and LCSP perspective, in my mind this "top ten" list is on target. These questions are directly applicable to key product support considerations such as achieving required outcomes, conducting requisite analysis to confirm the strategy is achievable, executable, and affordable, and ensures key metrics such as materiel availability, reliability, O&S cost, and mean down time targets are addressed.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Either way, as Mr Kendall so eloquently said in his Better Buying Power 2.0 memo, encourage you to “Think!”