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People say some good things about Aspire’s courses, but the commonest response that Aspire gets on the critique forms after an LSA course is the observation that “My boss should come on this course.

Last week was no exception, but the fact that our delegates make this comment, or something very similar, so frequently, is disturbing, and this has been the case for 20 years now. 

The reason is that once the basic principles of LSA have been explained, they are easy to understand and very logical, a logic that it is difficult to challenge. A typical response by day 5 of our LSA course is along the lines of “…well, how else could you do it?” – ‘it‘ being to design an optimal Support Solution (Mission System, Support System and Employment Plan). Once delegates understand just what can be achieved, and how, they are understandably keen to get back to their organisations and to change, to improve, the manner in which ILS and LSA are implemented. Unfortunately, they also recognise that any such attempts are likely to be hamstrung by the lack of enthusiasm of their senior management.

Are we being unfair to those senior managers here? Senior managers have to make difficult decisions, to manage spending, to ensure that the businesses that they represent get a reasonable return on any investment they make. Plus of course we have to recognise that ILS and LSA do not have a great track record in some quarters so the senior management have every right to be somewhat cynical.

But perhaps it was this lack of understanding, this lack of awareness, that caused the failed ILS and LSA programmes that led to this poor track record in the first instance. Part of the problem today is that many senior managers already “know” what ILS and LSA are, they know that they are “Spend to Save”, that they are very expensive methodologies. Methodologies where data takes precedence over process and where process often takes precedence over output or “product”.

The reality couldn’t be more different, of course, the focus of “proper” ILS and LSA is on the output, i.e. an optimal Support Solution. This to be achieved by implementing an optimal process, supported by information and data, as and when, (and only when), required. By definition an optimal process will be the most cost effective process, hence our argument that, correctly implemented, ILS and LSA programmes are “Save to Save” methodologies.

…”too early” all too often transitions to “too late” with no discernible intermediate state.

It is also apparent that many people simply do not appreciate what is technically feasible, I have been told many many times that it is not possible to predict the behaviour, not possible to conduct analysis, of complex systems in the very early stages of their life cycle, that it is “too early“. In these circumstances “too early” all too often transitions to “too late” with no discernible intermediate state.

Again, nothing could be further from the truth, the application of some simple Systems Engineering concepts enables such early analyses. A frustrating aspect of this is that these techniques are easier to apply today than they have ever been, we now have access to some incredible technology, which is both affordable and readily accessible, which greatly facilitates our ability to implement highly effective and efficient ILS and LSA programmes. Anyone who has attended one of Aspire’s LSA courses will know that we regard the intelligent use of models to be a critical element of any successful programme, and there is now a wide range of very capable, very flexible, and affordable modelling tools available on the market. There are however many other technologies and methodologies, readily available today, that would facilitate the implementation of ever more effective and efficient ILS and LSA programmes.

…ILS and LSA need better PR…

The problem it seems is ensuring that senior management, in both industry and the MoD, are not only aware of these methods and these tools, but that they are also provided some assurance that they can be applied effectively.

In essence ILS and LSA need better PR, more discussion and informed debate. The starting point being that ILS and LSA are, by definition, the most effective and efficient means for delivering the engineering support requirements of the Front Line Commands.

Aspire is contributing to the debate by running a series of Webinars in co-operation with Tech Data World – TDW. The next webinar in the series will address the application of Decision Theory to support engineering.

This webinar, presented by Matthew Gibbon, leading modelling expert at Aspire, will use real world examples to demonstrate how analytical methods can be used to optimise equipment supply and support chains.

If you want to join us, the webinar; “Decision Theory for Engineering Support – where should we invest: spares, repairs or logistics?” will be presented at 14:00 on Thursday the 23rd of March. Click here to register on the TDW website. There is also a link, further down the same page, to a recording of the previous Webinar “Just what is ILS?“.

 

PS – We changed the seats…

 

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