“If you don’t understand how to run an efficient operation, new machinery will just give you new problems of operation and maintenance. The sure way to increase productivity is to better administrate man and machine.”
In earlier articles I described how to consider availability (see Availability in PBCs – Part 1 and Part 2) and reliability (see Reliability in PBCs – Part 1 and Part 2) in Performance Based Contracts (PBCs). In this companion article, we are now going to look at supportability and how we describe it within our PBCs.
Similar to availability and reliability, considering supportability of a system or service is one of the highest priorities for both buyer and seller and therefore typically a Key Result Area (KRA) in our PBC performance measure hierarchy. But what is supportability and how do we describe it within our PBC?
One possible definition is the United Kingdom Defence Standard 00-44 that defines supportability as “A measure of the degree to which all resources required to operate and maintain the system/equipment can be provided in sufficient quantity and time.” Importantly, this definition highlights a difference focus between availability / reliability and supportability; that of resources and timing.
Availability and reliability performance measures are about the ‘current mission’; the now. Firstly, is the piece of equipment ready to use now and secondly, is the equipment reliable when I start using it so it won’t break before I can complete the ‘current mission’.
Different to this, supportability is about the ‘next mission’; the future. So after using equipment to deliver mission success (the outcome), supportability is focusing on whether the buyer can reuse the equipment again for the next mission, the mission after that, and the mission after that, etc. This reuse could be the result of maintenance (e.g. repairing broken elements such broken parts), replenishment (e.g. refilling used elements such as fuel and oil) or replacement (e.g. getting a completely new or refurbished piece of equipment).
Based on this definition many supportability performance measures reflect non-operational areas such as timeliness, quantity and resourcing of engineering, maintenance and supply (logistics) support. Focusing on these elements gives the buyer confidence that the seller can deliver long-term mission success (i.e. availability and reliability).
Some examples of supportability performance measures include:
- Engineering Support performance measures such as Engineering Backlog and Outstanding Corrective Action Reports that measures the engineering support systems ability to complete engineering actions in a timely and quality manner including closing out audit reports;
- Maintenance Support performance measures such as Mean Time To Repair (MTTR), Mean Maintenance Time and Maintenance Mix that measures the repair times and percentage mix between preventative (scheduled), corrective (unscheduled) and emergent (appears when undertaking preventative or corrective maintenance) maintenance;
- Supply Support performance measures such as Demand Satisfaction Rate (DSR) and Delivered In Full On Time (DIFOT) that measures the Supply Support system’s ability to deliver equipment and parts as requested;
- General Support performance measures including areas such as training course satisfaction, number and length of staff vacancies, turn-over rate of staff including key staff, and competency / training of staff that measures the seller’s ability to deliver training outcomes and attract and keep quality staff, which is critical for specialised fields and / or remote localities.
In summary, while supportability performance measures in isolation give very little insight into the seller’s ability to deliver the buyer’s outcome, like availability and reliability, including supportability performance measures in PBC performance measure hierarchies give value insight and therefore confidence into the seller’s ability to consistently deliver outcomes over the long-term.