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France: Oxand helps France’s Ministry of Defence prioritise maintenance actions for its large infrastructure assets

French Ministry of Defense

The Defence Infrastructure Service (SID, or Service des Infrastructures de la Défense) was created in 2005 by combining the infrastructure departments of the various armed forces. In 2010, reforms implemented within the Defence Ministry assigned SID responsibility for maintaining all the Ministry’s real estate assets: buildings, airports, ports, military bases, etc. Together, these assets account for 40% of the property owned by the French government, i.e more than 80,000 buildings and heterogeneous infrastructures.

Oxand is accompanying the SID (Service d’Infrastructure de la Défense – Defence Infrastructure Service) in integrating the Simeo™ solution into the Ministry’s SI organisation and environment.

Interview with Engineer General René STEPHAN, Central Director of the Defence Infrastructure Service at the French Defence Ministry

Since 2011, you have been working with Oxand to rationalise the resources needed to maintain the Defense Ministry’s real estate assets. What are the key issues involved in this project?

Given that maintenance budgets are increasingly tight, meeting the objectives assigned to our department in 2010 first required us to overhaul our departmental organisation and roll out a “professional” project procedure. Our initial aim was to improve our visibility over the state of Ministry assets, and enhance our support to Chiefs of Staff and military high command structures with a view to arbitrating on ministerial priorities.
We rapidly recognised the relevance of Oxand’s risk management-based approach as an ideal response to the key issues to be addressed by SID.
– Evaluating resource requirements for the next ten years, based on all available information on the current condition and priority level of all Ministry assets; this evaluation would then be used to inform budget decisions taken at the highest level;
– Allocating the available budget resources to various assets across the nation, according to the risks associated with each one (operating risks, assets security and risks to the health and safety of individuals).

In your opinion, what are the main advantages of Oxand’s approach?

The advantages of Oxand’s approach soon became apparent. The project management approach earned rapid buy-in from all Ministry stakeholders who particularly appreciated its rigour, objectiveness and its foundation in sound common sense that made it difficult to contest.
We are still consolidating the initial findings, but they already constitute a benchmark for the various Ministry stakeholders at both central and local levels.
Two years after its launch, SID can already leverage the tangible results generated by this project:
– The performance of every individual military base and asset type has been mapped;
– SID has presented an initial budget estimate for inclusion in the Military Planning Act.

This complex project was conducted to a tight deadline, alongside an extensive reorganisation. What made you decide to continue with this approach?

Thus far, our objective was to map France’s defense assets: a considerable challenge given their extreme diversity and the fact that they account for 40% of the country’s real estate assets.
We achieved this objective, despite the difficulties associated with the department’s reorganisation. We did so because all those involved clearly understood the importance of the project and its potential benefits for SID and the Ministry in general.
These initial results constitute a critical asset; they will be invaluable in formulating our service plan for the next five years.
However, we do not intend to leave the job half done. Our work so far has generated high expectations, which we are determined to meet by leveraging the full potential of this tool, with support from Oxand.
First, we need to convert our findings into a concrete maintenance policy.
Second, the approach must be extended beyond the project team so that it can be used effectively by the whole department. Indeed, our next challenge is to maintain the long-term viability of this solution by keeping it up-to-date and generating even more reliable data on the country’s real estate assets.

What particular support do you expect from your ongoing partnership with Oxand?

Oxand’s Simeo™ technology will enable us to consolidate and process data for all our real estate assets in one base, leveraging all the cost libraries developed by Oxand.
Furthermore, this project, implemented over the last two years, has required us to be extremely rigorous. We intend to maintain this high standard by integrating this approach into our in-house procedures. Oxand will advise us on how best to ensure a sustainable organisation and help us consolidate our procedures.
SID, moreover, must be able to leverage this approach to its full potential. As it was deployed rapidly, and tailored to various environmental constraints, we now need to look at any concepts that may have been discarded or postponed.
SID’s next challenge consists of institutionalising a stable, reliable approach and envisaging different strategies or scenarios for the future.
Oxand’s experience is invaluable in this respect. The success of this next step depends on a transfer of skills from Oxand to SID.

In brief : Assets covered by this project

  • 3,200 state-owned buildings, 70,000 projects
  • 250,000 hectares
  • A building surface area of 27 million m2
  • 51 military bases
  • 3 ports
  • Approximately 15 industrial facilities or research sites
  • Approximately 30 air bases and naval air stations
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