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Asset Management – Challenges for Defence Technical

The defence force is beset by challenges. Its very existence rises out of facing challenges; through times of war and conflict, and in times of peace. Within the key area of asset management, however, the defence force also faces challenges. And one such challenge lies in technical aspects.

There is nothing quite as exciting as a bright, shiny toy. Children love to play with new toys and as adults, we are not too different. Our toys simply change as we grow. The defence force is no exception to bright shiny toys: think submarines, fighter jets and planes, and armoured tanks. When it comes to defending a country, these are indeed necessary, but how does defence balance the operational intent and its budgets at the same time? Is there an effective asset management plan to address this?

With so many complex areas, this is no easy task for defence. For example, an air warfare destroyer has the same engine as many other ships, all of which are managed by a central organisation, but there is currently no effective documentation or practice set in place to guard and maintain these assets. A strategic, defence-wide asset management plan is indispensable to bringing the technical aspects out of the silo and into the open field. Asset management is the key to finding better ways of doing the business of defence.

Any asset management plan begins with conversations. Staff at all levels should have opportunity to contribute. Of course, the defence force employs more than 20,000 people, so this is no small undertaking. But asset management is everybody’s responsibility. Once the conversation has begun, the next phase of asset management can be implemented. This is the educational phase; a time where everyone knows exactly what is meant by asset management. Presently, directives are sent from above, but very few actually know what those directives actually mean, how to implement them, and how they affect the business.

It’s no wonder that asset management falls by the wayside. Employees and senior leadership alike are confused. A collaborative and educational approach, with consistency across services—land, sea and air—is critical to the success of an asset management plan that achieves operating intent, on budget.

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