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A Risky Business
If all goes well, SEA 1000 will deliver the RAN 12 reliable and high end submarines which will form the backbone of the most capable submarine force
in our region and serve as a significant capability element of the ADF.
However, this statement is contingent on the four words, “if all goes well”.
With every project comes the opportunity for success, but also the possibility of failure, and noting SEA 1000 has been described as “likely to be
the largest defence procurement project in the nation’s history”, the implications of project failure would be significant. With the wounded state of
the current submarine capability, failure might be terminal for the Australian submarine force and, noting the projected cost of some of the options
on the table, could actually bankrupt the Navy. There is a lot at stake.
What brings projects down is “risk”. It eats away at performance, consumes resources and blows out schedule (note that project cost is determined
by multiplying resources and time). Risk is the enemy of Project Managers and as such needs to be foremost in our minds as we move forward with
Acoustic Warfare Analyst Jamie Dennis monitors
his console as HMAS Dechaineux dives.
Credit: CoA / Paul Berry
The Collins Class submarines serve as a relevant
example on the consequences of risk.
As risks materialised on the Collins Project
the RAN saw reduction in performance,
consumption of additional resources and
delays in schedule. Submarine war fighters saw
interim Combat System software drops over
time before it was finally acknowledged that
this critical system would never meet the navy’s
requirements. The platform suffered a broad
range of reliability issues and noise problems.
The RAN saw a delay of about 12 years before
the boats were considered suitable to be placed
‘in harm’s way’. Additionally, demand on the
resources required for the “fix-it” program
hindered the upgrading of the submarines and
placed constraints on spending in other parts
of the Navy.
The problems with Collins have taxed
submarine operators, submarine management
and the sustainment organisation to the point
where the programme is described by John
Coles in his 2011 Phase One report to the
Minister as “an unhappy story”.
REQUIREMENTS SET THE RISK SCENE
Before delving into risks categories, it is worth
highlighting up front that it is the setting of
operational requirements for any capability
that sets the risk scene.
“Experience shows that setting requirements
beyond that of off-the-shelf equipment
generates disproportionately large increases
to the cost, schedule and risk of projects”
said David Mortimer in his In 2008 Defence
Procurement and Sustainment Review.
Augustine’s 15th law suggests that the last ten
percent of performance generates one-third of
the cost and two-thirds of the problems. The
cost schedule risk diagram shown in Figure 1
and supplied to Mortimer by the-then DMO
General Manager of Programs and the-now
DMO CEO, Warren King, suggests Augustine
was an optimist.
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