Five Myths About Obsolescence that Reduce Readiness

It goes without saying that critical programs aren’t abandoned just because they’ve matured. Even in the face of forced obsolescence, counterfeit components, and ongoing supply disruptions, embedded systems need to last longer than the standard life cycle of the parts that go into them. Proactive obsolescence management is your only line of defense against the inevitable. Don’t be fooled by the following:

Myth #1: My system is not in sustainment yet, so obsolescence issues don’t exist.

Obsolescence occurs at every phase of a system’s life cycle, so the earlier you develop your DMSMS plan, the better. Planning during early phases gives you the opportunity to guard your system against obsolete or anticipated obsolete parts. You may also place the program in a better position to oversee identification and resolution of DMSMS issues when they arise, and prevent or postpone the need for redesigns once the program enters sustainment. It’s never too early to plan your Obsolescence strategy.

Myth #2: A design’s use of COTS assemblies provides built-in obsolescence immunity.

The use of COTS does not guard your system against obsolescence. In fact, COTS assemblies have relatively short life cycles resulting in costly replacements. Next generation COTS assemblies may not be backwards compatible, further complicating DMSMS management. Explicit advanced planning can help mitigate these problems.

Myth #3: DMSMS is just another drain on a program’s budget.

Actually, the opposite is true. Strong DMSMS management proactively monitors for obsolescence, and analyzes resolutions, therefor increasing response time and reducing production delays and system downtimes. Obsolescence is unavoidable and funding DMSMS resolutions is an ongoing program activity. In truth, obsolescence planning warrants it’s own spot within a program’s budget.

Myth #4: My program has a performance-based acquisition strategy, so the prime handles obsolescence.

This may be true, however, unless contractually incentivized to deal with obsolescence early in a program’s life, the prime will migrate to the more expensive Engineering Change Proposal. It’s important to take a longer term view with regard to a products support strategy and to be aware of the impact obsolescence will have beyond the current contract period.

Myth #5: Performance-Based Logistics contracts with industry to solve all obsolescence issues.

This is true for high dollar issues and redesigns if, and only if, it is specifically noted in the contract. Even then, it may only include specific subsystems or exclude items in production.

Obsolescence is inevitable. Being prepared is critical to readiness. Begin your proactive obsolescence management plan today.