Ocean was invited to tour a military explosive ordinance maintenance organisation in 2019 to investigate whether a modern digital solution would be a useful tool in the planning, optimisation and decision support reporting required for their future growth.
Staff at the facility ensure its weapon systems and those that work on them are continuously certified to meet readiness and preparedness directives of Command for training and operational purposes.
In order to meet their current and exponentially growing throughput needs, the organisation required the ability to achieve the following:
• Streamline the forward planning days to years in advance.
• Capturing the status and milestones of work packages applied to each weapon system.
• Safety assurance of its specialised people, complex weapon systems, certified equipment, and facilities.
• Dashboarding, reporting and optimisation insights from tracking the operational throughput throughout the organisation.
Considering the requirements for scalability and software to be delivered as a complete service, the facility required an effective and reliable Cloud-based solution that would meet its sovereignty, privacy, and security needs.
Considering the company’s unique operations, the facility also required a collaboration partner who could address their iterative needs as they advanced.
The solution was SmartBase, built on Ocean’s next generation enterprise Cloud platform.
SmartBase met the ordinance team’s unique and complex maintenance operations requirements and rolled out in less than three months.
This speed to market from the initial briefing through to fit for purpose MVP, developed in consultation with a defence partner, is relatively unheard of. In fact, it resulted in Ocean being recently nominated for a 2021 ADM Essington Lewis award.
What does SmartBase help teams achieve?
In the scenario discussed above, SmartBase was configured for a very specific need, but the reality is that it can provide intelligent resource management for superior insight across many base support functions. Whether that’s maintenance, refuelling, emergency services or contractor scheduling, it can be configured to each team’s specific need.
Some of the key benefits of SmartBase include:
• Automated workflows for quick planning and execution
• Visual drag and drop across simple interfaces
• Real-time visibility dependant on user role of people, resource, and operational status
• Role-based security and user management
The more groups across base using SmartBase, the greater the advantage.
SmartBase enables base command to have a single operating picture of their entire base, rather than individual groups using different systems to track their people, resources, and operations, (and that operational data being siloed)
Partnering with defence organisations
Since the rollout of SmartBase, the military ordinance maintenance organisation has continued to partner with Ocean on an enduring roadmap that ensures continuous optimisation as they increase throughput.
By partnering with Ocean, organisations can collaborate with Ocean’s product team using agile principles, ensuring the right features are delivered to the right users. This is done using three of Ocean’s key customer principles:
• Prioritise highly valued capability – coupled closely with our customers, our product teams undertake an ongoing customer journey, mapping the features and prioritising based on value and effort.
• Customer Unity – Participation through the iterative process enables accuracy and focus of what is important. These involves collaborative design workshops and showcasing working software prior to release.
• Flexibly Pivot – requirements evolve and intent might not always meet operational user experience. The ability to evaluate, pivot and re-prioritise is critical for any enduring capability.
Viji John, who led Ocean’s engagement within defence, described challenges often faced when acquiring and enhancing digital capabilities within the current environment:
“Operating in an agile approach is foreseen as hazardous for many industries where safety and adverse impacts have dire consequences. Ocean has for over two decades been successfully partnering with customers and industry to collaboratively define a workable software methodology which enables trust, integrity and demonstrable value in the products and continued rapid enhancements as evidenced by Defence.
“We can guide organisations on finding an acceptable approach meeting difficult procurement, security accreditation and deployment considerations.”
Why work Agile?
With the heightened demand on companies to be able to rapidly deliver value to their customers, new ways of working, specifically Agile, have seen an increased in popularity within Defence.
Agile projects encourage flexibility, empowerment, and collaboration within an organisation – key values that optimise value throughout the development process. SmartBase is designed to encourage this way of working.
By focusing on the culture and mindset of our people rather than a framework or tooling, we have been able to achieve a level of quality and applicability for defence customers using SmartBase.
As we continue our agile journey, we regularly check-in to rethink and, if necessary, redesign structures, governance mechanisms, and processes to ensure we strike the balance between speed and stability.
With 25 years of experience working in defence, Ocean is capable of partnering with clients to navigate the organisation’s procurement and security needs.
We work closely with the chain of command and partner with users to take an active role in developing tools that are a better fit for them and ultimately benefit the organisation as well.
SmartBase has been designed as a Cloud-first, modern web solution. Leveraging the latest application frameworks for a high-performance in-browser experience, SmartBase combines with back-end services on Microsoft Azure to deliver powerful processing capability with minimal demand on on-premises networks and infrastructure.
Rapidly deployable, SmartBase can be delivered via Ocean Software’s secure cloud or, pending in-progress CIOG accreditation, hosted entirely within Defence’s own cloud protected network.
While Cloud has traditionally been seen as a risk and so organisations would continue to resource their entire IT infrastructure. In addition to the large costs of having to furnish a large IT function in each organization, there was often a disconnect between hardware and software and so as new features rolled out the hardware infrastructure would inevitably grow out of date or incompatible.
Cloud infrastructure changes this for the better. Organisations access the application via the internet, and this means that updates and improvements can be delivered at any time. Given the increased operating tempos and speed of change, organisations require this agility.
Using an infrastructure like Microsoft’s Azure Cloud also means both the vendor and the client benefit from the dedicated resources that Microsoft invest to ensure their Cloud is secure. Rather than each organisation building a world-class data centre, Microsoft can specialise and build the absolute best data centre in the world and we can all focus on what we do best.
What this means for our customers:
Flexibility – our product can easily scale to match your needs, allowing SmartBase to support both small and large organisations.
Agility – we can release features continually, reducing the amount of time customers need to wait before they see improvements in the product.
Performance and Security – the cloud provides access to cutting edge hardware and world class security that an organisation would not be able to replicate in an on-premises environment.
And finally, when we talk about front-end frameworks this just means the presentation layer of information is decoupled from the data layer – again this just means there is more flexibility to improve the user experience without requiring a complete rebuild of the application.
SmartBase agile from inception
Projects that our customers traditionally undertake can be up to five years long, from conception to end users using the solution. As a contrast, we are showcasing features to SmartBase customers every other week and have the ability to update the product every day.
SmartBase is the first product that Ocean has actively developed with our customers in this way. The cycle time between concept to the feature in the hands of end users is dramatically shorter. As a result, Ocean can gather feedback and learn directly from the end users, adapting future features to better meet their needs.
By working with our innovation partners, we really can say we’ve developed a product that is fit for purpose, and our customers are pleased with the outcome:
“I’m extremely satisfied with SmartBase, it saves me personally at least two to four hours a week. For me it’s key benefits; team collaboration, project planning, project execution, situational awareness and team responsiveness.”
- Guided Missiles Maintenance Scheduler
“I am very impressed with the work Ocean has done. The feedback from our planners, maintainers and sustainment staff at the Maintenance facility is extremely positive.”
- Executive Director
Trust is the key
Ocean has over 25 years of experience working in high compliance and security environments within the defence industry, providing us with a deep understanding of the constraints customers face and what we need to do to adapt our process. Data sovereignty and security is paramount, so we have adapted our architecture to suit these requirements.