Product Support Modeling, Simulation and Analysis (MS&A)
In yesterday’s blog post entitled “Vital Competencies?” I shared a few thoughts about key Life Cycle Logistics functional competencies, indicating the April 2000 USD (A&T) The Future Acquisition and Technology Workforce Report offered some remarkably prescient insights, indicating among others that understanding “the use of modeling and simulation (M&S) across the total life cycle of a system…should be considered critical for (Life Cycle Logisticians) to perform effectively in the future acquisition environment.”
The future, I would contend, is now. To be a successful life cycle logistician, I would also contend that this April 2000 report hit the nail on the head when it stated that a critical competency was to “understand the use of modeling and simulation (M&S) across the total life cycle of a system. A good working knowledge of M&S (including capabilities and limitations) would greatly facilitate the Life Cycle Logistician’s ability to predict the supportability and downstream logistics impacts of competing design alternatives. This will allow the Life Cycle Logistician to provide Program Managers and system designers with defensible recommendations prior to the critical design “lock-in” period.”
Whether it is supportability analysis, product support analysis, supply chain management effectiveness, reliability growth prediction, life cycle cost estimation, or, business case analysis, familiarity with, application of, and proficiency in the use of predictive modeling, simulation, and analytical processes and tools is an increasingly important element of the successful execution of our duties as life cycle logisticians.
Indeed, among other statutory responsibilities outlined in 10 USC §2337, product support managers for major weapon systems are required to “…use appropriate predictive analysis and modeling tools (emphasis added) that can improve material availability and reliability, increase operational availability rates, and reduce operation and sustainment costs” and to “conduct appropriate cost analyses (emphasis also added) to validate the product support strategy…”
One of the eight principal recommendations from the November 2009 DoD Product Support Assessment specifically dealt with analytical tools, stating that for business case analyses in particular “to improve in effectiveness as a decision-making tool, it is necessary to address, clarify, and codify the larger group of ―analytical tools‖ by which the analysis should be conducted.” The report went on to state that “supportability decision tools must be embedded in the new product development process to influence design for support while not hindering the timely fielding of critical systems. The analytic process by which product support decisions are made should vary by data elements, timing within the life cycle, and the unique characteristics of the objective system and its operational environment….The analytical tools must align with the phase of a weapon system life cycle to be effective…”
As a result, product support-related analysis – and the tools used to conduct it – were specifically called out in Section 10 of the LCSP Outline established in the 14 Sep 11 USD(AT&L) memo "Document Streamlining - Life-Cycle Sustainment Plan (LCSP).” The memo articulates the expectation that “this section lists the analytic methods and tools… (used) to define the product support package,” with Section 10.2 (Product Support Element Determination) specifically mandating “identification of the supportability analysis methods and tools (including the product support business case analysis) used to define the elements that comprise the product support package” in Table 10-6 Product Support Analytical Methods and Tools.
As I pointed out as part of an on-line discussion associated with an July 2013 blog post entitled “U.S. Air Force Product Support Enterprise Vision,” DAU offers a variety of resources to assist product support managers and life cycle logisticians in this endeavor. In support of related competencies identified in the Life Cycle Logistics workforce competency set, a few of the available modeling, simulation and analysis tools, references and related resources include: