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Associate Professor Ofer Zwikael

Associate Professor Ofer Zwikael

ANU research partnership to support Defence

2 November 2017

A research partnership between the ANU and the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) has the potential to improve the Defence’s project selection system and encourage more collaboration between academia, industry and Defence as highlighted at the recent Force Design Conference.

Dr. Ofer Zwikael is an Associate Professor in the College of Business and Economics, whose research focuses on project benefit management. Elham Merikhi is a current HDR student at the Research School of Management. Together they have partnered with DST to develop better ways to select and manage projects and programs in Defence.

The Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) is the second-largest publicly funded research and development organisation in Australia. This agency sits within the Australian Government Department of Defence, and is responsible for applying science and technology to support Defence operations in Australia.

Over the past few months the ANU team and DST have worked together in a rare partnership. Dr. Zwikael said that there is a perception that, “there is not enough collaboration between academia, Defence and industry and more collaboration can support Defence in achieving goals.”

In working with DST, Dr. Zwikael and Elham identified some key issues within the new Capability Life Cycle model - a framework that guides viability of potential projects in Defence.

“In terms of research capabilities we supported them (DST) with two areas of research we think they are missing in the framework,” said Dr. Zwikael.

Dr. Zwikael’s research is focused on the concept of Project Benefit Realisation which aims to bridge the vast gap between high level strategic goals and the capabilities of potential projects to be funded.

The methods and tools highlighted in his research aim to assist selection of projects based on benefit targets. 

“Part of the selection decision for projects to invest in, is based on what benefit you want to target. So the first thing is to identify what benefits you want to achieve from each project, and how these benefits are aligned with the strategy of organisation,” Dr. Zwikael explained.

The other key issue they identified was in Project Portfolio Selection – selecting projects which would complement each other in reaching an organisation’s goals.

Dr. Zwikael said Elham’s research works hand-in-hand with his own benefit realisation work to further improve project management.

"Elham takes all this information and puts it into a mathematical model she has developed. The model recommends the optimised set of projects, which would provide the best benefit for the organisation with the lowest level of risk possible.”

Dr. Zwikael and Elham recently presented with DST at the inaugural Force Design Conference. This conference delivered focused presentations outlining and assessing the way Defence conducts project selection as part of their new Capability Life Cycle model.

Dr. Zwikael and Elham will continue their research and development with DST.

Find out more about this research project contact Dr. Zwikael.

Find out how you can partner with the ANU College of Business and Economics.

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