Case study

Niteworks 3: what you need to know

Background information about the nature of work undertaken by the Ministry of Defence industry partnership over the last 5 years.

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This page is for background information purposes only.

What we did

The Niteworks 3 partnership consisted of more than 175 organisations including Ministry of Defence (MOD), Defence science and technology laboratory (Dstl), major Defence contractors, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), technology specialists, consulting companies and academic institutions.

One of the Niteworks objectives was to provide sustainable access to the MOD Industry Academia Supply Base and Niteworks engagement with universities helped to achieve this. The Niteworks open and collaborative model proved to be a very effective way for MOD, industry and academia to work together to help provide effective decision making, reduce risk and improve solutions across all areas of the Defence Operating Model.

Since 2013 Niteworks delivered more than 200 projects for the MOD with over 1,500 people from across the partnership. Engagement of the whole partnership on every project was vital and was a critical factor in the Niteworks approach to providing impartiality in its 3 main services:

  • generation of evidence for decision makers
  • advice on applying industrial experience within the defence context
  • practical innovation

Niteworks 3 worked across MOD and industry to analyse problems, examine options and de-risk requirements, helping MOD to make better, faster and more informed decisions.

Impartiality, scalability and agility were important components of Niteworks. We operated in a way that enables MOD to access a range of expertise without individual company bias.

By using the breadth of the MOD and industry partnership it ensured that the projects remained free from stove-piped considerations. The MOD approved flexible and proven contracting mechanism made the right collaboration with the right expertise.

When to use Niteworks

Whether our MOD customers were making operational or strategic decisions, Niteworks:

  • helped frame problems or issues and identify the real questions to ask
  • provided impartial recommendations on options
  • experimented with simulated outcomes on specific war fighting capability questions

Our customer and industry feedback:

Customer Feedback:

The flexibility and agility of the organisation, and the quality of the people who were placed on the projects, again demonstrated the value of Niteworks.

The real value that has been added by Niteworks has been the ability to draw on subject matter experts from across the partnership, who have brought not only technical expertise, but a willingness to fully immerse themselves in the relevant areas, sometimes to our initial discomfort, but always to our benefit.

The level of ambition, innovation and programme agility from Niteworks and its aggressive pace of delivery and support has ensured that the MOD knows what it wants and how to acquire it.

Industry Feedback:

Niteworks is able to sub-contract important individuals from the industry partnership on a best-athlete basis. This provides them with invaluable experience, knowledge and insights, and means that they return to their industry employer with a much broader and in-depth understanding of the UK defence industry.

We certainly have improved our understanding of MOD capability needs as a result of our involvement in Niteworks.

We have been very impressed with the change in people when they have returned, as they appear to have had a compressed education in the MOD, the military, and the defence acquisition process.

Our staff working in Niteworks have been able to broaden their understanding of how military personnel conduct their business. We are using this experience to enhance the way we respond to MOD requirements, in the development of capability.

Niteworks 3 membership

Niteworks members derived a number of benefits, including:

  • better relationship with MOD
  • improved competitive position through understanding of MOD requirements
  • better understanding of MOD programmes
  • increased programme certainty (reduced risk) through company exploitation of experimentation
  • access to Niteworks outputs / reports (subject to IPR)
  • direct revenue by use of personnel through Niteworks
  • increased awareness of the MOD customer

Niteworks 3 Partnership

Niteworks’ industry partners were drawn from the major UK defence providers to ensure a breadth of domain knowledge, and from an increasingly diverse associate community including small and medium-sized enterprises, specialists, research establishments and major consulting companies.

Niteworks is unique in its ability to draw on the combined knowledge, skills and expertise of the partnership to test early on what is needed, and to advise on the ‘art of the possible’. Niteworks establishes teams from across the partnership that combine the breadth and depth of UK defence knowledge and experience.

The Partnership Charter

The Niteworks Partnership has a unique culture and behavioural ethos based on collaboration, impartiality, transparency, agility, high-performance and trust.

On joining Niteworks, industry members signed up to the Niteworks Partnership Charter, to support, promote and commit to those behaviours.

Ministry of Defence (MOD)

Each Niteworks project or activity was driven by a question from MOD. These included central MOD staff, Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) project teams, Dstl or Front Line Commands. The work Niteworks undertook was tailored to the specific requirements of the MOD Sponsor, involving military personnel in operational roles working alongside Niteworks staff in order to deliver strong, evidenced and impartial recommendations.

Industry partners

Niteworks’ Industry Partners were UK companies with a significant presence in the security and defence industries who provided substantial background Intellectual Property to support Niteworks projects and activities.

Partner benefits

Industry partners received substantial benefit from their involvement in the Niteworks partnership. Benefits included:

  • improved understanding of the defence environment and MOD’s capability needs
  • the ability to make better investment decisions
  • improved commercial positioning and decision-making through understanding of MOD programmes
  • improved relationships with the MOD customer

Partners also gained significant benefit from the development of skills and experience for staff seconded to Niteworks.

Industry associates

Niteworks associates were companies who had a specific interest in the security and defence domains, and ranged from small and medium-sized enterprises to much larger companies from both the commercial and defence sectors.

Associate benefits

Benefits for Associates included direct involvement with the MOD customer and improved understanding of MOD’s capability needs and decision making process.

People seconded to Niteworks had the opportunity to develop their skills while working in mixed MOD and industry teams, at the same time building their awareness and knowledge of the defence environment. Partner and Associate companies provided expertise and capability to Niteworks activities through people, technical support and innovation.

Published 28 March 2018