The Future of Product Support
Encourage you to check out the March-April 2010 edition of the Defense AT&L Magazine for an excellent new article entitled "The Future of Product Support."
In it, the author pulls no punches, stating, "acquisition processes pay too little attention to supportability and consistently trade downstream sustainability for required capability or program survival. Some program managers assert that logistics is their only discretionary account, making it a frequent target for inevitable resource reductions. In acquisition decision reviews, sustainment is often relegated to the back-up charts. Hampered by functionally stove-piped organizational structures and lacking life cycle management qualifications in their diverse workforce, the logistics community fails to achieve effectively integrated and affordable warfighter operational readiness. Instead, it remains focused on managing commodities, parts, and services. Transforming product support will require not only strong leadership in DoD, but also an open-minded, reform driven DoD-congressional partnership and a collaborative DoD-industry relationship to realize the report objectives. The national security and economic environments dictate tough-minded acquisition reform and logistics transformation. The challenges of affordability constraints; the need to upgrade equipment and infrastructure; and a continuing, persistent operations tempo prescribe a clear need for DoD implementation of an integrated plan to address product support across the defense enterprise.”
With the gauntlet laid down, the author goes on to provide important details related to the findings contained in the November 2009 DoD Weapon System Acquisition Reform (WSAR) Product Support Assessment and road ahead in the coming months for the implementation of this DoD initiative.
The conclusion of the article sums up well what this end state needs to look like: “…successful change in weapons system product support will be demonstrable by reducing costs while maintaining equal or greater equipment readiness support for key warfighting capabilities. It is crucial to our national interest to ensure that product support achieves a level of performance equal to its importance. The (product support assessment) effort, inspired by a warfighter-driven operational perspective, offers clearly defined, implementable recommendations to drive the next generation of product support strategies toward that objective, with a clear vision to achieve aligned and synchronized operational, acquisition, and sustainment communities working together to deliver required and affordable warfighter outcomes.”