"Given the size and complexity of the programme, many people said it was a step too far."
DAVID WALTERS, PA DEFENCE EXPERT, PA CONSULTING GROUP
Operation Talisman works like a charm to save troops, says Carly Chynoweth
The biggest threat to the lives of British servicemen and women in Afghanistan in 2008 came from improvised explosive devices, also called roadside bombs. To counter the threat, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) had to acquire equipment ranging from armoured vehicles and remote-controlled vehicles to special cameras – and it needed to buy it fast.
However, its typical procurement methods were too slow – it could have taken up to eight years to obtain the equipment – and control requirements were another stumbling block. This is where PA Consulting Group, the management and IT consulting and technology firm, stepped in. Its contribution to the project, called Talisman, is highly commended in the category for change management in the public sector.
PA worked with the MOD to create a system that led to the project being completed in less than two years. “Significant elements” were delivered five months early.
One of the biggest challenges faced by PA’s team was the initial response from some people that the job could not be done in the time available.
“Given the size and complexity of the programme, many people said it was a step too far,” says David Walters, who led the project for the London-based consultancy.
It took time to break down that way of thinking but, since proving that it was possible, it has been easier to win over people in the MOD to subsequent schemes, Walter says.
The project represented a shift in culture as well as in process, says Lieutenant-colonel Adrian Parker, a requirements manager at the MOD.
“It has created a blueprint for future critical and complex procurements in the MOD at a time when defence acquisition is under significant scrutiny,“ he says. “It has established new ways of doing business within the MOD as well as more sophisticated and productive engagement with the defence industry.”
This extract has been published by kind permission of The Times.
The full article was published on Monday 11 April 2011, in The Times Consultancy Awards Focus Report.
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