The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has suspended a £92.5m investment plan to implement new Base Inventory Warehouse Management systems (BIWMS) in order to re-assess the needs of its users.
BIWMS was intended to replace legacy systems used to oversee the MoD’s supply and support chain as part of a move away from siloed systems to improve pan-ministerial system interoperability. The ministry had also sought to introduce the Management of the Joint Deployed Inventory (MJDI) as part of this joint system approach.
According to a National Audit Office (NAO) report of the MoD’s 2013 to 2014 accounts, the ministry already rolled out a deployed warehouse management system across a “significant proportion” of deployed units to improve the visibility of its inventory holdings.
However, implementation of BIWMS has been suspended pending a review of user requirements. According to the audit report, the project was to be a significant part of MoD efforts to enhance its inventory management.
A budget of £92.5m for BIWMS had been approved depending on a number of conditions including allowing the Cabinet Office Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to perform a review of the programme. Under these conditions, any additional spending would be dependent on approval from the Cabinet Office.
These conditions also required the MoD to:
- Enact recommendations and price changes further to independent benchmarking of contractor costs and manpower effort validated by MOD Cost Analysis & Assurance Service prior to any contract award.
- Enact recommendations further to independent benchmarking of GOLDesp solution.
- Undertake reutilisation of solution artefacts and co-ordination with other IT transformation programmes across the MOD and its partners.
The NAO’s findings did note “significant improvement” in the last few years over how the ministry managed its inventory. Nonetheless, the auditor concluded there remained ongoing challenges to ensure better management and accounting of UK defence assets.
“The department remains constrained by aging legacy warehouse and inventory systems which necessitate a high level of manual intervention to ensure data integrity, both within the inventory systems and the general ledger,” the report said. “The data held on these systems is critical to project teams who require it to effectively manage the department’s inventory holdings. The department is continuing to focus significant resources on understanding the relationships and data flows within its inventory systems and consequential risks to data integrity.”