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Reforming Defence Procurement - What Will Make the Biggest Impact?

Posted on June 2024 By iO Associates

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Proposed changes include prioritising export potential, adopting spiral development, enhancing industry relations, and introducing strategic leadership roles.

Since 2021 the UK's defence procurement system has been undertaking significant repairs to tackle longstanding issues of cost overruns, delays, and inefficiencies. The proposed changes are designed to reinforce and streamline the process, ensuring that the nation's defence capabilities are both progressive and cost-effective. But which of these reforms will have the most significant positive impact? We recently conducted a LinkedIn poll among professionals in the defence sector to find out.

The Proposed Reforms

The UK's Ministry of Defence has outlined several key strategies for reforming defence procurement including the below:

Prioritising Export Potential - Enhancing the appeal of UK defence products on the global market.

Spiral Development - Introducing iterative development processes to allow for ongoing improvements and adaptability.

Closer Industry Relations - Strengthening the partnership between the government and defence contractors.

Strategic Leadership - Creating new roles to provide clear, strategic direction and oversight.

Each of these approaches has its advantages, but we wanted to know which one experts in the field believe will make the most substantial impact, please read on to discover our results.


Strategic Leadership

The drive of strategic leadership roles is seen as the most impactful future amendment and takes the lead, commanding 57% of the vote. This result underlines the importance of having dedicated leaders who can provide clear direction and make informed decisions to drive the procurement process forward. The UK, alongside its allies, face a complex array of threats, from cyber warfare to traditional military confrontations. This necessitates a robust defence force supported by sustainable investment and secure governance.

To support this, many urge that the Department of Defence needs talented, experienced, and dedicated leaders to increase efficiency and reduce spending. Dr Matthew Ilic comments Our leaders are too focused on success metrics that are career-tied. Our soldiers deserve dedicated leaders, not careerists.

Whether or not you agree with this statement, by establishing strategic roles the UK will ensure that procurement strategies are not only well-coordinated but also aligned with the broader defence objectives of the nation.

Export Potential and Closer Industry Relations

Both prioritising export potential and building closer industry relations received 17% of the vote each. These reforms are crucial for different reasons. Enhancing export potential can open up new markets and revenue streams, making UK defence products more competitive globally. Closer industry relations, on the other hand, can lead to more efficient and collaborative working relationships, potentially reducing delays and cost overruns.

Spiral Development

Spiral development, which garnered 10% of the vote, is a relatively new approach that allows for continuous improvement and adaptation. While it received the fewest votes, this method can still play a vital role in ensuring that defence technologies remain current and capable of evolving with emerging threats and technological advancements.


These poll results provide valuable insights into the priorities and perspectives of defence professionals. The strong preference for strategic leadership highlights a clear need for visionary and decisive management in reforming defence procurement. However, it's evident that a multifaceted approach, incorporating elements of export potential, industry relations, and spiral development, will be necessary to fully address the difficult challenges faced by the defence sector.

Join the conversation. How do you think these changes will shape the future of defence procurement? What other changes or strategies do you believe are essential for success? Follow our LinkedIn page to get involved and take part in future poll-driven industry discussions.

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