Support manpower availability and personnel skill requirements often are not considered during the early stages of development. This leads to costly redesign, impact on other weapon system staffing, increased training requirements, increased technical manual cost, and reduced weapon system availability.
During the conceptual and validation phases of a project, a multitude of studies are performed concerning the design of the weapon system under development. Early support analyses during this phase often are hardware-oriented and do not consider manpower and skill requirements. The contractor as part of trade studies and logistics support analyses, should develop predicted manpower and skill requirements based on previous experience with comparable systems adjusted for any new or unique requirements for the weapon system alternatives proposed.
When Request For Proposals (RFPs) for FSD are issued, they should indicate the priority placed on manpower availability and skill level requirements and include these factors in the source selecting criteria. The RFP should provide detailed descriptions of current and projected manpower and skill needs, including specific information on current maintenance and operator performance and realistic manpower costs on similar fielded systems.
During FSD, the contractor should be allowed to observe or participate in organizational and intermediate (field) maintenance activities. Data gathered during field maintenance should then be used to supplement predicted maintenance parameters being used by the contractor, adding realism to the analytical studies being performed. Any unusual support requirements should become readily apparent. Then appropriate design changes can be made to minimize these requirements or changes in support planning can be made prior to field use to provide for unusual manpower or skill requirements. Design reviews held during FSD should address manpower and skill limitations in relation to design complexity. Any shortfalls should be highlighted.
One of the many factors which must be considered during design and support analyses is logistics support personnel costs. Existing data from other projects are often used in performing these analyses without verifying the currency or completeness of such data. In addition, the need for training or replacing experienced personnel is often overlooked. In performing logistics support and personnel cost analyses, all cost elements must be considered, including the costs to train or replace experienced personnel.