The Hydrography and METOC Branch (HMBranch) within the Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organisation (AGO) is responsible for fulfilling nautical charting responsibilities under the Navigation Act and provides military geospatial information to the ADF warfighter. HMBranch is an amalgamation of the previously independent Hydrography, Meteorology and Oceanography organisations. 

The amalgamation led to the consolidation of six IT networks into a single network, known as the Hydro-METOC Information Environment (HMIE). Although 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 in response to increasing support and maintenance challenges, together with other drivers, including: 

  • Ongoing pressure within Defence to migrate the management of all stand-alone networks to CIOG 
  • The potential for upcoming projects to fund significant re-architecture of HMBranch IT systems 
  • The recent and ongoing amalgamation of HMBranch into AGO  

HMBranch sought a clear and independent view of future options to support informed decision making as it interacted with other agencies. 

The different perspectives and sizes of AGO and CIOG (with respect to HMBranch) were a challenge. We knew that for our solutions to be supported we needed to achieve a consensus between these organisations and involve Government and Industry throughout the process. Furthermore, COVID-19 travel restrictions limited conventional consultations amongst the diverse range of stakeholders. 

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 overlapping jurisdictions and perspectives of AGO/CIOG, 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 AGO Geospatial Capability Development Branch—endorsement was achieved at all levels.  

The HMBranch 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 growing network of applications, HMBranch requested a review of future options to resolve mounting support and maintenance challenges. Coras soon identified that issues of project portfolio and architectural governance were just as relevant, broadening the scope of analysis. Coras’ recommendations were supported at all levels, and the team was retained as advisors through implementation. 

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