Software Enabled Defence in conjunction with Value Management

Blog – The Compelling Narrative

The nature of global threats to Nations, their Governments and Defence is accelerating in variety, pace, and ingenuity. UK Government and specifically MOD must be able to generate capability to fit the threat with a pace of relevance at agility and at affordability in terms of integrated effort and cost.

The implications of this threat shift and pace of encounter is a driving imperative for defence, where rebalancing ‘capability fit’ with ‘time fit’, complemented by increased need to get inside the adversaries OODA loop for the generation of superior integrated response to achieve operational advantage in the form of a credible deterrence, impact minimisation and/or war winning capability.

UK Government has demonstrated recognition of threat shift. Our defence policies including the Integrated Review Refresh 2023, the Integrated Operating Concept 2025 (IOpC25) and Multi-Domain Integration (MDI) within the UK and Multi-Domain Operations within NATO and allies, identifying an era of strategic and constant competition, rapidly evolving character of warfare and disruption, adversaries who seek to defeat us and exploit our vulnerabilities without inducing a warfighting response, particularly where we have capability edge.

Exploiting our Software is central to rapidly responding to these global shifts, the disruptive strategic intent therein and to ensure our efficiency and effectiveness in Defence.  Software is a strategic asset and the imperative is agnostic to whether it is the performance of business systems, collaboration within the extended Defence Enterprise, decision making in the battlespace, integrated exploitation of the levers of power, integrated effectiveness of deployed capability (including performance of exquisite capabilities and the excellence and resilience of the support solution), or the security of UK networks.

‘MOD’s JSP 935 defines software as the program code (including operating procedures, data used to configure the software and associated documentation, such as the requirements, software specification, test plans, user manuals etc) which can be utilised by a computer or device to provide functionality for MOD equipment and encompasses the extended definition of Programmable Elements (PE) as defined by Def Stan 00‑056 Part 2.

If responding to ‘pace of relevance’ related threats is the strategic imperative and software is a strategic asset, then our Virtual approach, enabled through Digital, must be on a par with what we have Physically.  (Supported by an Operating Model, leadership, governance and accountabilities, and an innovative ‘Software Defined’ community of practice, and therefore,the possibility to establish a direct line of sight from Software to greater Defence integration at best value, with an enterprise approach to Digital Engineering as a critical point of approach).

Threat, defence policy and digital response can be summarised as ‘If responding to the threat is the strategic imperative, and Virtual on a par with Physical is the strategic differentiator, then Software is a critical Strategic Asset’.


MOD’s DE&S work to scope Software Enabled Defence (SED) as an operating concept and framework is consistent with learning from the Atlantic Council commission on Software-Defined Warfare.  This Atlantic Council commission acknowledges and champions the modernisation of archaic platform-centric approach to capability development, leveraging modern software practices and integration to optimise or improve defence strategies.

So, what is SED seeking to achieve?  SED aims to enable and inform the MOD and the wider defence enterprise to understand, develop, integrate and exploit software and digital approaches, products, and capabilities in constant competition, noting the diversity and dynamic threats from adversaries.

The intent around SED is to explore, scope and shape opportunities for consideration by existing parts of MOD, and its integration with wider government, allies and industry. At its highest-level SED offers a journey from concept thinking to a framework proposition; progressively developed and tested as opportunities, time, support and sponsorship allows.  As a minimum the SED programme of work will flesh out the big picture, a collection of high-level concept components, a SED Framework and considerations for route map to realisation.

The industrial world champions Enterprise 4.0, (nicely summarised by this 2018 paper  Subsequently,  how might SED assist an Enterprise 4.0 for Defence?

If we acknowledge the premise that responding to the threat is the strategic imperative, and Virtual on a par with Physical is the strategic differentiator, then Software is the Strategic Asset’.  SED can contribute to:

  • UK Government and Ministry of Defence collective and existing digital drive and quest for digital excellence promoted by Digital strategies;
  • Digital function and organisation;
  • Organisations charged with integrated digital exploitation including UK Strategic Command, the Integrated Design Authority, Battlespace Integration Centre and more.

SED thinking and frameworks offers a Defence 4.0 reinforcement, with key messaging that:

  • Software enables Defence as an Enterprise,
  • The criticality of Integration at pace of relevance, therefore Software enables defence to be more than sum of its parts;
  • Whilst defence must endure the complexity of composition across the physical, digital and virtual domains, software can assist in reducing complexity and optimising integration across the full spectrum of Defence capabilities;
  • Digital provides the bridge between the physical and virtual worlds of product layering and the means to enterprise scale operations;
  • Data is lifeblood of the enterprise, with Software as the building block for Digital and Virtual, as it is in underpinning most of our physical Defence systems and platforms;
  • Software Intensive components with appropriate optionality can be adapted at pace;
  • Software can enact complex virtual constructs or models that reflect the choreography and/or orchestration of activity in the physical, enabling composability of integrated solutions at the speed of relevance;
  • Continuous improvement requires defence to be a learning organisation that embeds innovation to achieve fit and so drive organisational performance and defence productivity;
  • The importance of defence creating a digital marketplace that allows rapid exploitation of capabilities agnostic of origination.
  • The UK Defence Digital Backbone is enabling an Enterprise solution that exploits all that is good in the digital transformation landscape.

Whilst Defence 4.0 might provide the disruptive thinking needed for Virtual to play a vital part in responding to modern defence threats, we also know that Value, actual and perceived, needs to be addressed, particularly when the recent NAO report on Defence Acquisition, Budget and Spending suggests ~£16Bn 10-year Defence Budget deficit.

Considering the UK Institute of Value Management (VM) in concert with British Standard BS/EN 12973 (2020) as guidance, our VM activity seeks to explore ‘Value Thinking’ as a catalyst to develop and grow a ‘greater integrated value’ mindset. The VM assessment will explore Functional Analysis, FAST diagram approaches, Competing Values Framework, Porter Diamond, SAFe Agile Operational Value Streaming, DevSecOps Value Stream Mapping, Value Management in partnership with Lean and more.

To ensure we exploit prior learning we will benchmark US DoD who under federal mandate apply Value Engineering; how sectors such as UK Construction Industry use VM to optimise operational and delivery costs, and how UK MOD can build upon previous VM experience on the Type 31e General Purpose Frigate Programme.

With initial analysis showing VM returns typically in the region of 150:1 for traditional VM, applying VM more dynamically alongside SED could offer greater integrated value returns on investment for MOD, as a minimum a structured way to choose, optimise and prioritise how to deploy the finite resource

For SED and/or VM to be a success, some disruptive thinking in this work implies a need to  approach integration and composability through the lenses of Direct, Control, Execute functions and in conjunction with solution tailoring.

If you believe you would like to understand SED further, please feel free to contact:

Shaun Hughes: TD-Info,

Steve Hyde: MOD

SED Core Team

Antony Powell:

Phillip Jolley:

Steve Worsnip:

VM Core Team

Mark Law:

Antony Powell: