7 Sourcing Mistakes That Could Threaten the Future Of The US Navy

05.10.22 10:24 AM

7 mistakes the US Navy is making in the development of the uncrewed technology that puts the future of the Navy at risk. 

The future of the navy is uncrewed


Uncrewed means vehicles without humans on board.


Vehicles like small boats and underwater vehicles that operate from a command center somewhere over the horizon.


This $4 Billion dollar investment by the #Navy was criticized by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) in a report published April 2022.


The report points out 7 mistakes the US Navy is making in the development of the uncrewed technology that puts the future of the Navy at risk.


These mistakes speak directly to common mistakes made by #supplychain professionals who do not take the time to develop a #sourcing strategy, so watch this video to learn how to avoid making these mistakes in your supply chain.


The root cause of all the issues identified by the GAO festers from a lack of leadership and unclear sourcing strategy.


In the report, GAO recommends the Navy adopt a portfolio management approach to oversee the uncrewed programs.


A portfolio management approach would be responsible for ALL the uncrewed programs to coordinate funding, priorities, and activities across all uncrewed programs.


One of the key factors to developing a sourcing strategy is to engage stakeholders to align strategic objectives with sourcing strategy to maximize the impact of your budget.


Think about your organization to answer this question...

Are sourcing activities aligned to support strategic objectives? or does spending appear to be ad hoc and wasteful?


With a portfolio management approach, one person would be responsible for overseeing all uncrewed programs.


Without the oversight, the $4 Billion investment to develop the future of the navy will be in jeopardy.


According to the report, The Navy has "identified uncrewed maritime systems as an important affordable capability for future warfare."


What exactly are uncrewed vehicles?


Here are the current programs listed in the GAO Report...


Show examples of uncrewed vehicles...


With portfolio oversight, the GAO states the navy can "optimize its uncrewed maritime systems by balancing resources across multiple efforts and linking its efforts to its strategic objectives"


How will portfolio management help the Navy?

What are the lessons you can apply to your sourcing strategies?


Let's start with the need for a complete a cost estimate with full costs to develop and operate uncrewed maritime systems.


Although the cost estimate may be difficult to develop because the technology does not exist, a level of effort based on labor hours could be assessed with the intent to baseline costs. As costs become real, the navy can begin to evaluate actual costs against estimated costs as a way to figure out if future investment is worthy.


When developing sourcing strategy, we need to prioritize spending in a way that best serves the organization.

Many times, we have cost estimates from earlier projects that can serve as examples.

In this case, the Navy could look back at earlier projects with new technology to see how much budgets tend to grow as the technology develops.


Think about your organization to answer this question...

How often do project costs blow the budget, BUT the project is NOT terminated because the costs have gone too high, and the project gone too far as to not get some kind of return?


Second, the GAO is recommended the Navy provide details about how it intends to achieve its uncrewed maritime system strategic objectives that should include measures and metrics, as well as a planned process to assess the Navy’s progress toward achieving its stated objectives as would be in line with portfolio management best practices.


Basically, the GAO is asking the navy to be SMART about its uncrewed strategic objectives.

SMART meaning Specific, Measurable, Aligned, Realistic, and Timely which is the basics of any type of planning.


Do your objectives meet the SMART criteria?

This is important so we can measure our progress to meet our objectives as well as know when the objectives are complete.


Third, the GAO is recommending the Navy develop evaluation criteria and schedules for its prototypes.


Here the GAO is telling the Navy to have a purpose for spending money.

Instead of giving "genius" engineers an unlimited budget, the engineers need to do the homework as to the purpose of the prototype in regard to exactly why the system is built. With this purpose, the engineers can do the paper drills to see if the objectives are possible before spending money on actual development. The cost of braincells and electrons is pretty cheap before production is implemented.


Does your organization use established criteria to evaluate the results of spending?

Can you see ROI tied directly to the accomplishment of strategic objectives?


Next, develop a master planning schedule to include each uncrewed maritime system effort.


This recommendation speaks to the "T" in SMART, timeliness OR when can the Navy expect to see not just progress, but actual RESULTs toward achieving the strategic objectives originally set up for the $4 Billion investment.


This information can help us make decisions such as if the project is no longer worth the effort OR the people involved in the project are not the correct people to get the job done. 


Where does your organization look at the timeliness of the results or lack of results?


After the development of a master planning schedule, the navy can deliberately revise the prototyping plans for each uncrewed maritime systems as information becomes available and results are delivered.


With a portfolio manager oversight, the lessons learned from the uncrewed prototype results can be incorporated into future efforts across all the programs.


The navy can then show how mature technologies help achieve top level requirements.

Where success if achieved in one area, the portfolio manager can see where else the success can be applied to other programs.


In your organization, is there an executive decision maker with the authority to share resources with other programs to achieve strategic objectives?


Finally, the navy needs to incorporate how it plans to use information gained from prototyping to develop certifications


Here the GAO is telling the Navy to show how the uncrewed systems will perform against certification criteria used to determine if a unit is operationally ready.


Before a unit can deploy into a theater of operations, the unit go through different evaluation exercises to determine if they are able to perform while operationally deployed.


If the uncrewed systems cannot meet the standards to be useful in operational theaters, then how is it useful for the future navy.


Testing prototypes will allow the Navy to assess the operations capabilities of the uncrewed systems.


In conclusion, the navy is counting on uncrewed systems to support future warfare.


As with any effort, government or private, a limit on resources exists.


Limited resources such as budget and time require a disciplined approach to get the job done.


To learn more about sourcing strategy and other supply chain concepts that get you the most value for your dollar, visit https://www.SupplyChainManagement.Training


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Footage Citation:

US Navy: https://www.navy.mil/Resources/Videos

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