Navigating uncharted
waters with HMBranch
In a nutshell

With a broad suite of complex geospatial software applications, we were asked
to review the application suite and associated ICT infrastructure to provide
clarity, and to identify sustainable options for the future.

In addition to recommending technical options, we identified potential
improvements in project portfolio and architectural governance. As a result, the
Coras team were extended to review ICT project portfolio governance, to
provide further clarity and to enable alignment between various internal teams.

“We worked with all parties to create
a design that encompassed all levels
and stakeholders.”
Who we worked with

The Hydrography and METOC
Branch (HMBranch) within the
Department of Defence. Which is
responsible for nautical charting
under the Navigation Act 2012 and
providing military geospatial
information to the ADF warfighter.

What was the challenge?
Lack of clarity was leading to
misalignment between teams.

The primary network for the creation of maritime geospatial products is the
Hydro-METOC Information Environment (HMIE), an amalgamation of six
previously separate networks. As well as identifying suitable and sustainable
future options from a technology perspective, improving alignment regarding
governance was a challenge.

Whilst well-managed, HMIE is a relatively complex and continually evolving IT
environment. It is governed according to the established processes of the
related Defence agencies and a prime contractor, spanning technical,
operational and corporate levels.

Many governance activities were running smoothly. However, there was
limited alignment between the governance of IT delivery and that of the
broader organisation. There was a lack of overarching design or a clear
relationship between governance activities. In some cases, Terms of
Reference were inadequate. As a result, there was an ongoing misalignment
between technology, business and leadership teams. This was causing
inefficiencies and less that optimum outcomes.

Where did we come in?
Building on recent successes,
HMBranch re-engaged us in July 2020
to maximise the potential of its IT
delivery capability.

We commenced the engagement in December 2019, with a series of
workshops to understand the technical nature of HMIE and its resident
applications.

It became apparent that broader issues of architectural and project portfolio
governance were just as relevant to the long-term sustainability of HMIE. Whilst
potentially sensitive, we received endorsement to broaden the scope of
analysis to include these aspects. We were invited to key governance forums,
initially as an observer, but gaining their confidence by suggesting small but
influential changes to the proceedings. The changes were approved and
quickly established credibility among the diverse and senior stakeholder group.
This advisory role was continued in parallel with the technical analysis and
became integral to the final recommendations.

These recommendations were also informed by fresh input from Industry. One
key vendor, while openly experimenting with new technological approaches,
had no clear development roadmap. After we highlighted this problem, the
vendor invested several weeks in presenting a clear roadmap for development
and as evidence of their experimentation. Combined with results from other
Industry bodies, this provided clarity for the feasibility of major options.

Regarding governance, it became apparent that local IT delivery and Enterprise
Architecture teams were already collaborating well, leaning into continuous
improvements of relevant processes. There was, however, some lack of
influence and leverage with higher-level groups and business executives.

With coaching, these teams understood that most of the changes required were
within their remit, and that what higher-level stakeholders needed, rather than
more change, was a clear ‘design’ for the overall governance process. We
worked with all parties to create a design that encompassed all levels and
provided clarity to all stakeholders.

To support the required changes, we got specific. We made series of
recommendations, with timelines suggested and accepted by the relevant
owners.

The results
The final report and recommendations
were accepted by the relevant
Directors. They noted that from the
outset, the involvement of our
consultants had encouraged,
motivated and facilitated a spirit of
continuous improvement. This was
valued as highly as the formal
deliverables.

We were invited back to the table. To continue our support for HMBranch
governance, with a focus at the broader ‘business’ level. This lined up perfectly
with our strategy of pursuing long-term strategic relationships to drive and
empower enduring change.

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