Business Strategy and Planning
Akela staff took on the task of formulating a 5-year procurement strategy for Enforcement Technologies and Logistics within a Federal Government Department. This encompassed planning and overseeing the life cycles of diverse technologies and logistics services, with the overarching objective of bolstering Australia’s national security capabilities.
Specifically, the department’s role involved procuring and managing national security technologies and logistics services for the Government’s examination of freight cargo, totalling approximately $250 million in contract value. The approach and strategy set forth by Akela were adopted as the preferred framework for the department’s procurement activities across branches. Collaborating closely with the client’s leadership and branch, Akela staff delved into understanding the supplier landscape and service delivery prerequisites. This collaborative approach drew on Akela’s past experience and knowledge, resulting in a tailored strategy aligned with the service delivery needs.
The primary concern of the branch leadership team was that the activities were largely reactive, maintained limited visibility of current contractual tracking, and unknown future procurement requirements necessary to support operational and strategic requirements.
The strategy enabled the branch head to gain insight into unplanned and reactive procurement processes and to reengineer the procurement activities to be planned, scheduled, and focus on outcomes and solutions.
This strategy was used to inform future capability acquisition projects, requirements definition and workforce planning for the section.
The strategy articulated how the department would be able to regain control and financial oversight of its various procurement contracts and vendors/suppliers. This ensured adherence to the PGPA Act (PGPAA), established greater value for money, and aligns with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs).
Innovation and Business Process Improvement
Akela staff conducted a detailed analysis of current procurement and contract management processes against other departments, the PGPAA, CPRs, and industry standards. It was identified that the department had implemented several unnecessary processes. The team also identified many processes that can and should be automated.
The automation includes big data analytics, robotics, processing and automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
The strategy uplifted the department’s capabilities and ensured that a knowledge repository was established.
The Akela staff conducted a knowledge transfer of enhanced procurement and contract management processes to relevant client staff.
Akela staff conducted a detailed analysis of the branch’s contracts and supplier ecosystem to gain a deep understanding of each contract and the segment of the procurement and contract lifecycle each was in. Akela staff conducted interviews and workshops with key stakeholders at all levels to determine the strategic and operational contractual requirements that needed to be met. Akela used these interviews and workshops to gain clarity on the future state of these contractual obligations. This information was integral to developing the strategy which met the current and future requirements of the Branch as the contract sponsors and administrators but also that the individual contract deliverables and outcomes met the department’s operational requirements.
The analysis identified contract expiry dates and options allowed under the existing contracts, new procurement initiatives, and projects being undertaken by other business units across the department. An impact assessment was conducted to ascertain the immediate and ongoing impact on the department. Akela staff identified duplication of activities, optimisation options of contracts, and if new enforcement technology capabilities were being explored and the impact on existing contracts and capabilities.
Akela staff developed a detailed procurement schedule to support the overarching strategy. This ensured timelines could be met and inform a section workforce plan to determine the skills and experience required by resources to achieve procurement outcomes.
The strategy supported the branch head in being able to determine the cost, quality and service delivery outcomes for each of the procurements and subsequent contractual arrangements which were agreed to with suppliers. The strategy was also instrumental in informing a vendor segmentation activity to better understand the supplier ecosystem and which supplier relationships needed attention and strengthening.
The department now has a holistic view of its procurement and contractual obligations and can make evidence-based strategic decisions on contractual and service delivery matters.
System Development and Integration
Akela staff were engaged by a Federal Government health organisation to establish a secure cloud environment to host an internally developed application that provides an authoritative source of practitioner and location information for users and clinical systems. The client established a team to develop and validate a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) prior to a business case and potential wider national release.
Given the temporary nature of the application and short timeframes, the client required a pragmatic approach to design and implementation. It also required a balance of rapid scale-up and development freedom against critical aspects of security and compliance.
The role of Akela staff was to:
- Partner with the product development team to understand their hosting infrastructure requirements including availability, scaling and performance requirements, systems integration, and development tools
- Select the best-fit cloud provider and design a new hosting infrastructure to meet the needs of the capability and relevant cyber security and compliance requirements to meet Government standards
- Install, configure, test, and transition the various components comprising the hosting environment. This included, but was not limited to, networks, servers, identity and access, host security and web application firewall.
- Provide post-implementation support for the new cloud infrastructure ensuring continuity of service for go-live and beyond.
The product development team mandated a strict deadline to have the hosting infrastructure enabled to meet their product release expectations. Various external stakeholders, including software vendors, MVP participants in the healthcare community and Federal Government Departments, had an expectation the capability would be ready by a set date. Development of the product had commenced significantly earlier than the hosting infrastructure, therefore Akela staff were immediately under pressure to have a suitable environment available to ensure the project could be completed as agreed with its stakeholders.
Akela staff worked alongside the client product team, business analysts and architects to understand the business requirements of the new solution and the products’ broader role within the industry. At a high level, the capability consisted of:
- Web application
- External facing APIs
Clinical systems and human users
Systems integration with private sector and Commonwealth Government validation services software vendors, agency administrators and healthcare providers.
- An understanding of functional and non-functional requirements
- Target state cloud hosting platform in Amazon Web Services
- Conceptual design
- Compliance requirements against the Information Security Manual (ISM)
- and Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF).
- Systems Development
Akela staff conducted the following activities to support the project and establish the new environment:
Systems Design and Network Design
- Documenting system nodes and flows to describe data traversal and storage across the system. This included security control type and placement required to protect key assets.
- The security zone model included trusted, semi-trusted and untrusted segments
- Network Firewall rule design
- Web Application Firewall rule design
- IP routing and address range assignment
- Management Server placement
- Policy design for endpoint firewall, whitelisting, updates, and logging integration.
- Design of vulnerability management based on Tenable Nessus and Tenable.IO;
- Web Application Scanning pre-production and post-production
- Integration design of cyber threat monitoring
- Defining security events of interest, log sources and data types to support future security monitoring and audit.Installation, Integration and Testing
- Configuration, software installation and/or testing of components as part of the cloud hosting infrastructure. Including:
- Web Application Firewall
- Network security groups, identity and access and network routing
- Windows Servers
- Symantec Endpoint Protection Management Server and clients
- Support the integration and testing of connections to third-party systems, including software vendors, provider authentication services, address validation and practitioner repositories.
- Testing of the hosting environment to ensure its operating as per design, including:
- Integration testing
- Coordination of independent Penetration Testing
As a result of the engagement, the product development team released the capability to the user community. The trial was a success and there are plans to expand to a national scale.
In addition, Akela staff recommended that the client consider establishing a permanent secure hosting environment which is pre-validated, compliant, and consumed “as a service” by development teams. This is now part of the organisation’s future planning.
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Optimisation, Transformation, Supply Chain Management and Capability Development