No single set of specific tasks and activities defines the "best" maintainability program. Specific tasks and activities must be selected based on the type of product, the technology being used, product development budget and schedule constraints, customer needs, and so forth. Certain general elements, however, are necessary for a sound maintainability program and give direction to the process of selecting specific tasks and activities. These elements are management, design, analysis, test, and data.
A maintainability program may be described by a supplier in a maintainability plan. Such a plan should address the management approach, required resources, interface with related disciplines, the activities constituting the program and a schedule showing when activities must occur. Within the Government, prior to Defense Acquisition Reform (DAR), it was customary to require suppliers responding to a solicitation to include a maintainability program plan as part of their proposals. Although not specifically addressed in DAR policy issued by DoD, some procurement commands within the military services have now prohibited such a requirement. Of course, suppliers are always free to include such a plan if they determine it to be the best way of responding to the solicitation. Appendix A provides guidance in developing the maintainability portion of solicitations and in evaluating responses. No single model or standard plan is cited in this handbook because the plan should reflect the unique requirements of the acquisition program, the technology being used in the product, the amount of new development versus commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) or a non-developmental item (NDI), and many other factors. The elements described in this section, however, should be addressed in any and all maintainability plans.