Defence Renewal Annual Report 2014-2015 - Framework for Continuous Improvement

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10. Conclusion – Framework for Continuous Improvement

The Defence Renewal Team’s second year saw broad progress and in most cases, movement beyond initial scoping and analysis towards implementation and delivery. The foundation has been built, and we have made real progress in framing the structure of continuous improvement. The next year, however will be critical, particularly for the portfolio of performance initiatives where seven initiatives represent approximately 75-80% of the forecasted opportunity.

In this regard, Level 1s have been making deliberate progress and the inclusion of their defence renewal goals in their business plans is a positive step. But the overall business model for how reinvestment opportunities are identified and allocated -- governed at the defence enterprise level -- needs to be further developed if we are to achieve our goals. Similarly, the scale and scope of change at Defence demands that we take steps to better coordinate and synchronise change across the organisation.

Our experiences have informed and shaped how we move forward:

  • the ambitious timeframe and level of concurrent change is resulting in some initiatives requiring longer timelines or changing their estimated opportunity for reinvestment;
  • not all reinvestment opportunities are "harvestable" savings and are the result of cost avoidance and or increased effectiveness;
  • a critical requirement for robust measurement and tracking of Defence Renewal initiatives continues;
  • more than 20 of the 32 Defence Renewal initiatives depend on planned improvements to -- and investment in -- IT enablers in HR, Supply Chain, Finance, Cadets and the Junior Canadian Rangers, and Infrastructure Management;
  • other initiatives require investment to enable or accelerate change – increases to building demolitions, acquisition of strategic software systems to consolidate regional points of service, and improvements to existing enterprise resource planning systems; and,
  • we need to look closely at the Defence Teams key machinery of change policies and processes to ensure appropriate and responsible transition of effort which is agile and timely.

We know that much of our long-term success rests on our ability to change our business culture and practices. This is no easy task in an organisation as large and diverse as ours, but it is a task that is critical. Fortunately, progress has been made in raising awareness of what Defence Renewal is, why it is important, how it affects the members of the Defence Team, and how they can take part in the renewal process. Such efforts must continue and be enhanced. They are critical to the continuing success of both the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence and will serve to foster and promote the culture of acceptance required to move all renewal initiatives forward.

At the same time, we know that we cannot simply focus on the existing family of Defence Renewal initiatives: that the time is right to consider the scope and extent of Defence Renewal, and pursue additional opportunities for reinvestment across the Defence Team. The family of initiatives that serve as the vanguard of change cannot -- and should not -- be static. They should evolve and move beyond initiative management into the realm of initiative harvesting.

And, there are key lessons that we can learn based on the experience of the private sector. We will continue to leverage the advice of the External Advisory Committee, the Departmental Audit Committee, and KPMG.

Ultimately, however, we are on the right path and moving forward. The recent changes to the governance, oversight and management of Defence Renewal through the establishment of the DROC and the enhanced role of the VCDS and the Associate DM are positive developments that will move beyond information sharing and briefing, and enable timely strategic decision making. The DROC will help resolve issues quickly, assist in recovering or accelerating schedules, manage interdependencies, and ultimately reduce risk.

As Defence Renewal embarks on its third year, it is clear we all have much work to do in honouring the ambitious goals we set for ourselves. But with the continued awareness and a firm commitment to the spirit and intent of change, there is a critical mass of institutional confidence that we will emerge as an organisation that is more effective and efficient for years to come.