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The Hydrography and METOC Branch (HMBranch) is responsible for fulfilling nautical charting responsibilities under the Navigation Act 2012 and provides military geospatial information to the ADF warfighter. 

The primary network for the creation of maritime geospatial products is the Hydro-METOC Information Environment (HMIE), an amalgamation of six previously separate networks. Whilst HMIE is a well-managed environment, it supports a broad number of business processes with a growing number of software applications. 

The Challenge

HMBranch requested a review of future options for HMIE to assist in long term planning, including consideration of broader factors such as: 

  • Ongoing drive to consolidate management of stand-alone networks 
  • The potential for upcoming projects to re-architect existing systems 
  • The recent and ongoing organisational structure changes 

Whilst an independent view of future options was sought, engagement and (if possible) endorsement was required to ensure recommendations were actionable. This necessitated consultation with a range of Defence agencies, in the context of COVID-19 related travel restrictions. 

Our Engagement

Coras commenced the six-month engagement in December 2019 with a series of workshops to understand the technical nature of HMIE and its resident applications. 

Early in our engagement, it became apparent that broader issues of architectural and project portfolio governance were just as relevant. Whilst potentially sensitive given the perspectives and jurisdictions of related Defence agencies, Coras received endorsement to broaden the scope of analysis to include these governance aspects. Initially an observer, Coras was an invited member to key architectural and project governance forums. 

“We gained the forum’s confidence, suggesting small but influential changes to the proceedings”, said Stuart Lymn at Coras Solutions. 

These changes were endorsed, and in the early stages of implementation established credibility amongst 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 software vendor, whilst openly experimenting with new technological approaches, had no clear development roadmap. When challenged, the vendor invested several weeks before presenting a clear roadmap for development and evidence of their own experimentation. Combined with results from other Industry bodies, this provided clarity as to the feasibility of major options. 

The engagement was complicated by COVID-19 and consequent reduction in face-to-face engagement. With deep experience in online and visual collaborations approaches gained outside of Defence, Coras were well placed to make the best of the situation and keep all stakeholders aligned. 

The Results

The final report and recommendations were presented to the leadership and executive teams of HMBranch and its parent organisation – endorsement was achieved at all levels. 

The sponsor endorsed the engagement as having achieved its objectives with the unforeseen benefit of highlighting improvements in project portfolio governance. Whilst the changes are still in the process of implementation, Coras has been retained in an advisory capacity. 

Forming long-term strategic relationships is key to Coras’ success. Our partnership with HMBranch supports this approach as we invest in empowering deep, enduring change. 

With a broad suite of geospatial software applications, HMBranch requested a review of future options to assist long-term planning. In addition to recommended technical options, Coras identified potential improvements in portfolio and architectural governance. Coras’ recommendations were supported, and the team was retained as advisors through implementation. 

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