Systems or Skills?

#1
All,

I'd be interested to judge your thoughts on this. The Corps is undoubtedly travelling down the road of deploying systems that are configured centeraly - Cormorant, Bowman, Falcon etc.

The management system configures all the devices, so why do we need to train device management? Defence has paid millions for a software package that can configure the likes of Passport, Promina,avaya, meridian, Cisco blah, blah, blah. Have we reached a point where in depth skills from our IS/Tech/Operator trades are redundent?

Personally, i think not. Rip the whole management box of tricks out of a cormorant node, and the thing will still work, if you have someone who had the relevant skills to configure the devices.

I think skills are vital to our operation as a Corps, and management systems should complement the skillset - not be used as excuse to cut training or assume knowledge of the management system means you have knowledge of the system.

I'm interested in the thoughts of the Corps
 
#2
Skills will never die. The new J1J4 IOS system calls for new skills, in particular CA skills. Its getting more and more complex with some of the IT systems in use nowadays.
 
#3
Skills will always be useful, especially when the remote civi techs tinker on a system and crash it and the lcoal techs need to rebuild everything. It also shows the drawbacks to the systems when the people at the other end became arrogant becasue "they" are the managers so they fail to inform the remote end when they are doing loop tests on the system
 
#4
I can vouch that skills are need having worked on both Bowman and Cormorant in a management capacity there is still no replacement for the good old fashioned operator sorting out every day problems that occur on any of these new systems.
 
#5
Quite a Pertinent question Boney considering the way things are developing with the Corps current and future Trunk and Radio Systems.

There are some fantastic Cormorant Op and Is Eng within the two relevant (nearly said sister, but am I am still in denial!) Regiments. Who are more than capable of configuring "enclosures" above and beyond the call of what they have been taught on Cses.

However, that said as a whole I do not think the Corps has the right Operator skill sets (at the moment) to deal with the ever increasing number of IP based systems. I am not overly convinced either that the new "CS-Op" is going to bridge this shortfall.

As for the management side of things... Is that not the job of our Yofs, FofS and IS Supvr's?

BT
 
#6
boney_m said:
I think skills are vital to our operation as a Corps, and management systems should complement the skillset - not be used as excuse to cut training or assume knowledge of the management system means you have knowledge of the system.
I think you've hit the nail on the head there. I have often sensed that some people who should know better like to retain the myth of magical management systems that do everything for you. The unfortunate side effect, in my humble opinion, is that we end up with managers (supervisory trades and even offrs) far too often end up doing the actual hands-on engineering/configuration - because it's done through 'management' tools (the word 'administration' doesn't sound as cool as 'management' on your CV).
 
#7
The doom and gloom merchant inside me sees a scenario like this:

Manager thinks "I've got a vehicle that contains Passport, Avaya, Oracle, what I need is a crew who has a broad spread of CIS skills, which at least 1 person fully trained and proficient in each technology"

Pipe up Mr Bean Counter, goose stepping around ATRA with his clipboard "But defence has paid millions for a computer programme to configure all that wiggly amp stuff, why do I need to invest good money in training people to do it"?

Manager replies "What happens when the management box of tricks goes t1ts, and SO1 J6 or the COS is screaming for 2 new phones in J6 because there are troops on the ground"?

Mr Counter "LA LA LA, I cant hear you, LA LA LA, you still here"?

For me its about taking our eye off the ball, and we cant afford to take it too far. Automation undoubtedly has its place, and massively improves the ease and speed of delivery of services, but there is still no replacing a good, dedicated tradesman who knows his kit inside out.
 
#8
Systems = kit plus people plus techniques which when applied form skills eventually. No skills, no system = no-brainer.
 
#9
Having worked at both a London based commercial ops centre and now working at a NOC in the midlands. Both have multiple management platforms for the SDH/PDH/IP eqpt in the field for various vendors. There is a requirement for us to know both the management platforms and the individual eqpts that they manage, hence there is a definate requirement for skills in all areas. If we dont have the skills then we dont get to keep the job.
Good to see the Signals is rapidly moving out of the 70's but for the guys on the ground regardless of trade, they will need to know all aspects of the systems in use so when they go titz up at that critical moment comms can be restored asap.
 
#10
There is nothing quite like being sat at work at 2200hrs on a Friday night when the systems have failed with the OC and a load of SO2 on your back as capability has dropped.

Oh the fun in ringing Mil Ops desk to get some Tri Service ATO who did the 2 day DFTS course and listen to how they preach "cost managment" "can it wait till Monday?" "oh we cannot get an engineer out" etc.

Then having to explain the techinal complaint to a non techinical person who then dissapears!

Then arguing with the civilian technician who has his own idea what the problem is and will do it his way regardless of what info you can give.

Then finding they create more faults while fixing the original one, oh but this now requres a new fault number so the process starts again.

Of course there is a complaints procedure which takes an EON only to give you some condesceding reply of "how that particular fault in that particular enviroment is not covered by the operational contract"


Oh how me and the FoS laughed....
 
#11
Disco said:
There is nothing quite like being sat at work at 2200hrs on a Friday night when the systems have failed with the OC and a load of SO2 on your back as capability has dropped.

Oh the fun in ringing Mil Ops desk to get some Tri Service ATO who did the 2 day DFTS course and listen to how they preach "cost managment" "can it wait till Monday?" "oh we cannot get an engineer out" etc.

Then having to explain the techinal complaint to a non techinical person who then dissapears!

Then arguing with the civilian technician who has his own idea what the problem is and will do it his way regardless of what info you can give.

Then finding they create more faults while fixing the original one, oh but this now requres a new fault number so the process starts again.

Of course there is a complaints procedure which takes an EON only to give you some condesceding reply of "how that particular fault in that particular enviroment is not covered by the operational contract"

Oh how me and the FoS laughed....
And then the OC gives you a pish CR cos you couldn't get comms in. Doh!
 
#12
Disco said:
Then arguing with the civilian technician who has his own idea what the problem is and will do it his way regardless of what info you can give.
Maybe from experience they think your doing it wrong :D We had one problem involving RAF Sigs, the tech was as thick as two short planks and we had to h__k the network to keep another branch of the RAF happy.
 
#13
polar said:
Disco said:
Then arguing with the civilian technician who has his own idea what the problem is and will do it his way regardless of what info you can give.
Maybe from experience they think your doing it wrong :D We had one problem involving RAF Sigs, the tech was as thick as two short planks and we had to h__k the network to keep another branch of the RAF happy.
Polar, yes I would accept that however usually were talking about local faults with known symptoms on kit that used to be maintained by R Sigs soldiers but have now been washed up into one big management contract.

Oh and another funny, them ringing me up to find out what the kit is and where it is? Sorry what happened to your surveys? or your network investigation tools, Oh I will gladly go out and survey for you shall we call it £400 a day?... hello.... hello..?

Oh and then after them accepting MOD funding for new services, finding the kit has reached capacity and requires several thousand pounds of upgrades, watching them dragging their feet trying to blame the Army of course? Meanwhile said priority Ops tasking misses the the Op date and we look a right bunch of c4nts!

As Kathy Tate put it... "what a f4cking liberty"
 
#14
Disco.
That is because the companys of which you speak have always regarded the Military as a cash cow. More so in the fact that the majority of them have ex RSignals senior officers amongst thir heirarchy.

Stand By when Falcon hits the ground..
 
#15
Excellent point, well made Guru. If it wasn't for certain people in project teams lining their next job up I am convinced that the relevant projects would be delivered more quickly, more cost-effectively and (most significantly) as the best technical solution.

More and more these days we are seeing a second-rate solution being presented because it happens to greases the wheels at the respective contractor when the project head-shed decide to jump ship to aforementioned contractor :s

Or maybe I'm just a little too cynical.........

Ghostie
 
#16
Ghost_Rider said:
If it wasn't for certain people in project teams lining their next job up I am convinced that the relevant projects would be delivered more quickly, more cost-effectively and (most significantly) as the best technical solution.
I've found the biggest problem is getting an accurate user requirement, far too often people jump to we want XYZ but fail to include the reasons why.
 
#17
polar said:
Ghost_Rider said:
If it wasn't for certain people in project teams lining their next job up I am convinced that the relevant projects would be delivered more quickly, more cost-effectively and (most significantly) as the best technical solution.
I've found the biggest problem is getting an accurate user requirement, far too often people jump to we want XYZ but fail to include the reasons why.
Polar a very good point, the problem is they open up the requirement to too many people who decide to put their 2 penneth in bloating the proposed contract, just look at BOWMAN!

Add to that the project managers who are there becuase of rank and not technical experience/ qualifications and no I dont mean a 3 day fibre optic course or 2 day ATM introduction.

What is always missing is the accurate flow of info from the chaps on the ground, what works? what changes should be made? what systems really need to be supported? what skillsets are available etc.

Soldier "If we bought X then we would have a functional system with flexability to work with off the shelf kit thus providing a basis for future compatability and upgrades, this could be maintained by current skillsets with short courses to back fill non trained personnel while taking advantage of inbuilt guarantee policy included in the purchase price"

Project Team " The contractor recommends Z and Y to be integrated with legacy kit with a 50 year back to workshop repair policy and spares by DHL, non interoperability is a must to protect the contracters project oh and we signed an Non Disclosure Agreement meaning we cannot discuss this with anyone"

:roll: :wink:
 
#18
polar said:
Ghost_Rider said:
If it wasn't for certain people in project teams lining their next job up I am convinced that the relevant projects would be delivered more quickly, more cost-effectively and (most significantly) as the best technical solution.
I've found the biggest problem is getting an accurate user requirement, far too often people jump to we want XYZ but fail to include the reasons why.
Whilst I do not disagree with that statement, too often it goes much further than that. A recent trial report I have read stated that "system X failed to operate correctly with system Y" and "due to larger concerns, the trial will have to be re-done" (obviously I'm paraphrasing!).

Come the trial's re-run, and because it was too difficult to get X and Y to work together, that part of the trial was simply removed....

The best technical solution, of course, would have been to get the experts on board at the design stage and ensure it was squared away.... but that costs money! [/cynic mode]

Ghostie
 
#19
The requirement is always wooly. It is such a big thing, as usually there is a proprietary solution required, for some reason the military has shied away from a COTS/MOTS solution. Thankfully with the advent of Promina etc this is becoming a thing of the past. This will mean a more efficient procurement and shortened timelines for delivery.

I don't know if anyone has ever seen this film
http://imdb.com/title/tt0144550/plotsummary
It is called The Pentagon Wars, starring Kelsey Grammer and is based on a true story about the procurement of the Bradley AFV. The requirement was changed and diluted so much that when the prototype was delivered, the compromises meant that it would do nothing at all and was a death trap. It was amusing because it hit home quite well and everyone at Abbey Wood etc should be made to watch the film before they start their job.

And Ghostie you are correct about Interoperability. It always seemed to be an afterthought, resulting in RSSST/Qinetic etc, designing a box of tricks to cobble systems together, from Pipistrelles to IDIP, PTIE etc etc
 
#20
the_guru said:
, designing a box of tricks to cobble systems together, from Pipistrelles to IDIP, PTIE etc etc
My point for the entire thread, apologise for not keeping up, its been a busy weekend.

We now strive for purchase of compliant COTS technologies (i say strive, flick diligently through the RS catalogue). One would have thought that buying technologies that all the company glossies state will work together we'd be bullet proof. Not so, and this is the situation we find ourselves in, when it all doesn't work together as it should, we need someone who can tell us why.

Are we training that, currently no. Will we in the future, remains to be seen. Industry can buy the technical skill it needs meet its requirements, we cant. We need to train it, and focus on the future. We need to be training now for the Corps needs in 10-15 years time, I would suggest we're falling short of our requirements. A reliance on management systems wont cut it, a broad understanding of the systems and technologies in use, and an ability to understand their interaction will.

Just my take on it, but I'm sure there are lords and masters in Blandford who are gripping this as we speak. Just excuse me while I boil my head in aspic.
 

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