7 Questions for Capable Clients

Collecting good information, monitoring their function and performance, whether it is from humans to sensors on our existing portfolio of assets is essential to know whether we need to augment, build new, fix or just leave alone.

Once a capable client has decided to initiate the procurement process there is a whole myriad of things they need to take into consideration before handing over clear and concise instructions to their delivery partners. These instructions come in the form of Specific and General works information documents, an Exchange Information Requirements (EIR) document and the legally binding contract between all parties.

The big problem comes when these are developed by different parts of the organisation and are only understandable by those subject matter experts. They will often be stuffed with acronyms, long winded standards and contradicting statements. These documents which, are fundamental to a project leaves the client open to massive change control. This means, in the long run, the lowest price isn’t always the lowest price. Not understanding these documents causes delays, disruption to the supply-chain and the inevitable increase in the final price.

Briefings and meetings

One thing I have learned from my experience in the industry is to set expectations as early as possible and keep everybody informed about what is going on especially when it comes to critical decisions and paths. Don’t overdo it, as no one likes to have their time wasted, but a clear, well timed and succinct briefing with an opportunity to ask questions is well worth it. This is why the 7 Questions methodology has these programmed in.

This proven methodology starts with identifying key assets, creating a link matrix for each sector down to the agreed level, creating both physical and diagrammatic networks before carrying out a Criticality, Accessibility, Recoverability, Vulnerability, Effect and Recognisability analysis.

To conduct this analysis, a set of criteria is defined that will give the user a score out of 5 for each of these 6 CARVER headings. It can be a very subjective analysis but through experience very rapid. This is followed by 2 simple calculations where the scores for Accessibility, Vulnerability and Recognisability are combined to give a Likelihood score and Criticality, Recoverability and Effect are combined to give an Importance score. The total of all of them is the CARVER score, giving you a priority list for your limited resourced relief efforts in this sector.

This single sector assessment is then brought together with other sectors and an interdependent cross-sector analysis is conducted.

The final report identifies areas of concern that are critical to national infrastructure, where vulnerabilities lay and what planning needs to be put in place to increase resilience.

A demonstration project was recently conducted using a wastewater treatment plant as a microcosm of national infrastructure, as it contained interdependent “hubs and connectors” from Transport, Water, Communications, Power, Sanitation, Fuels and Chemicals. This study was conducted in using permissive and non-permissive data gathering techniques, to demonstrate what could be achieved in a disaster zone that was too hazardous for humans to be present.

The non-permissive team used autonomous technologies, open source data and their cross-sector infrastructure knowledge to deliver a full analysis of the site within 48 hours. This analysis closely matched the permissive team apart from a few minor differences.

This proven approach could be easily scaled up to deal with national infrastructure, taught to each of the sectors to ensure consistency and then brought together in a nationwide resilience database. This could also form the foundations of a National Digital Twin.

The Human element

Whilst I am writing this, the world is in the grip of an international crisis. COVID19 has swept across the globe causing a disaster and response unprecedented in human history.

During the crisis the nation must decide what is essential, so that only those who are needed to take risks do so, so we flatten the infection curve and help our health service to tackle the mass casualties when they happen.

Our infrastructure is not automated and requires skilled people to intervene at many key stages in its lifecycle. This critical national infrastructure will cease to support our society, if those key workers can no longer interact with their assets and keep them running.

Another level of CARVER analysis is required looking at the human vulnerabilities and the critical nature of these resources to support our way of life. Once identified then we must have additional people trained up or cross skilled from less critical departments to step into that person’s place if the worst happens!

As we move into the future and robotic and automated opportunities present themselves, the roles identified should be those prioritised.

© 2017 - 2020 by COMIT Projects Ltd.


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