FMV: Building a launchpad for the transformation of Sweden’s armed forces
Photography: Enno Kapitza
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FMV: Building a launchpad for the transformation of Sweden’s armed forces

Kenny MacIver — May 2019
Sweden’s Defence Material Administration, FMV, is on a mission to transform the way it provides equipment to the country’s military. However, as CIO Rebecca Ihrfors highlights, it must first standardize core applications and integrate its data to enable effective lifecycle management.

Few organizations have the buying patterns of FMV, The Swedish Defence Material Administration. On behalf of the Swedish armed forces, the government agency purchases “everything they need — literally, from tanks and jet fighters to pillows,” says FMV’s CIO, Rebecca Ihrfors.

But supporting that broad remit over the years has encouraged the build up of a diverse mix of IT applications and systems, many of which are tied to individual projects or units. That makes them costly and difficult to maintain and, in many cases, locks them out of innovation opportunities. Critically, it also obstructs collaboration and data exchange between the three key defense interests  groups — industry suppliers, FMV and the Swedish armed forces themselves.

Breaking down those barriers and modernizing the applications base is a core challenge for Ihrfors’ organization. But, as she argues, it is a prerequisite for a more complete digital transformation.

Making that more of an imperative is the Swedish government’s stated ambition to make the country into a world leader in digitalization. “If the country wants to aim that high then of course its agencies, including FMV, must also be able to move towards that,” Ihrfors says. “Big parts of our IT landscape must be modernized and integrated before we can start that digital transformation and now we are taking those first steps.”


She continues: “The goal is to apply new technology that can assist us in making information flow securely between stakeholders across the whole lifetime of defense material.”
Embracing standardized platforms 

Key to FMV‘s fight against siloed information has been the Swedish armed forces’ decision to adopt standardized platforms, SAP as its core business applications platform, with a view to replacing many of its aging, custom-built systems. FMV is not going to roll out SAP but the Swedish Armed Forces decision has started a need for a standardized platform at FMV IT-landscape as well.

Since that December 2017 announcement we’ve developed a rolling program to switch many internally developed systems to standardized platforms, a move that will span ERP, project lifecycle management (PLM), procurement and business analytics,” says Ihrfors. The rollout with new modern platforms is due to begin in early 2020 and continue throughout 2020. And given that FMV’s 1,600 staff are based in 15 sites across Sweden, as well as in locations around the world where Swedish forces are deployed, that push for greater standardization is no minor undertaking.

“Today FMV IT is characterized by systems diversity. We have several PLM and PLM-wannabe systems, for example, and at least four different EA [enterprise architecture] and modelling systems,” she says. In many ways, it is “integration mayhem.”

The response from a PLM perspective is to build a multivendor interface that will allow all parties involved to effectively see “the same tank,” she says. To achieve that, FMV intends to establish itself as a secure information exchange central-hub for product information across the lifecycles of programs; consolidating, analyzing and transforming information from multiple industry vendors and armed forces groups, and feeding that back in a continuous information loop. “It will allow us to work in a much more secure and integrated way,” says Ihrfors. “In essence, we want to be the owner and broker of PLM information.


“The industry, armed forces and FMV have to get better at collaborating and working together. We need to improve data exchange and that means bringing more data into our systems and integrate it.” Much of the information FMV wants to centralize already exists on the systems of industry vendors or within government. “What we need to do is to bring it home, ensure it is accurate [through master data management] and then respond to demands in the way that information needs to be used.
Drivers of change

Interestingly, the primary business driver for such a major shift is not cost reduction. “While we do expect the operational IT and the application development to be cheaper afterwards, that is not why we are doing this,” explains Ihrfors. “The main driver is security; we need to have modern platforms that are able to collaborate securely and address a diverse set of threats.”

A second driver for the transformation is to position FMV as a modern employer. “To be able to go into today’s skills markets and attract the right people we need to have modern systems and modern workplaces,” says Ihrfors.

Standardizing core parts of IT is also a way of dealing with a demographic issue. “A lot of the energy of our talented workforce today goes into old systems. We even have systems that only a few people still know how to mange — and they are in their mid-60s. If we want to attract a younger workforce, we need to offer them stimulating roles involving access to new technologies,” she says.

A third factor is the need to be more effective and to ensure greater accuracy across all of the work that FMV is involved in, something that put focus on the seamless flow of information.
New ways of working

Like other companies who have made the switch to modern and standardized platforms, the change has triggered a re-examination of internal business processes at FMV.  “It’s a big migration and it will involve new ways of working,” says Ihrfors. “We are planning to adopt many of the best practices embedded in such applications. The aim is to keep to standard packages where possible and to try hard to avoid making proprietary changes. Some of [the industry-standard processes associated with SAP] don’t always align to the special demands of our users and so there will be some tailoring of systems required.”

Ihrfors concludes: “Overall, there will be big changes in terms of the new processes that will be adopted but the result of our strategy will be much better, more secure ways of working and more accurate and integrated data.”

• Additional images courtesy of FMV

First published May 2019
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