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Having supported several high-profile Canadian defense projects over the last few years, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Outlooks event is a key date in the Commerce Decisions calendar. It’s the perfect chance to network with our peers and catch up with Canada’s military leadership on their future goals.

Held every year in Ottawa, this unique event brings together industry and senior representatives from the Canadian Army, Navy and Air Force over a busy three days. This year myself and colleague Evan Hammond from the Commerce Decisions Ottawa office were there to build on our strong relationships with the Canadian defense community.  

There is something to be said for coming up the escalators at the Shaw Center, arriving to register early in the morning, and to be immediately greeted by a bustling convention landscape. The sight of a dense throng of networkers, well into their coffee, dressed in suits, uniforms and gold braid can be quite exciting. With it being my second year in attendance, it was great to instantly recognize some familiar faces.

Collectively, the large audience hears directly from the Commanders of the Canadian Army, Navy and Air Force. These plenary sessions are extremely valuable in helping us understand the vision and future direction of our Armed Forces. The Outlooks framework then moves into breakout sessions for specific projects and programs that the CAF are working to deliver. It is these targeted project sessions that are the gold dust for our teams.  Hearing the latest information on status, detail, delivery and timelines at first hand is fundamental to our understanding of the challenges that our defense project teams face. They provide valuable insight into how we can support their procurement project delivery challenges going forward.

 In some cases the project teams are newly formed, and you often get the chance to meet the newly assigned Senior Program Manager who doesn’t even have their business cards yet. These sessions are followed by one-on-one meetings, a great opportunity for us to highlight the ways Commerce Decisions has assisted other CAF project teams and to illustrate how we can help the new teams as they move forward with their projects. On hearing our track record in successfully supporting other Department of National Defense project teams, their interest in us is immediate.

The Outlooks venue and schedule also presents many valuable networking opportunities.  It is not uncommon to take a seat at the table during the plenary sessions and find that you are sitting with three senior Naval officers.  The CAF network itself is very strong and reference focused. Our existing contacts always seem pleased to introduce our teams to other CAF project leads, having seen the value our evaluation software and expert services can bring to complex strategic defense procurements.

We also got to hear from the Canadian Deputy Minister of Defense and Deputy Minister of Public Service and Procurement, in an insightful and interactive panel environment. It was particularly pleasing to hear the speakers reference the Department for National Defense (DND) Future Fighter Capability Project, one of Canada’s most complex procurements. Commerce Decisions secured this strategically important contract with the Government of Canada last year, to support the competitive procurement process to replace Canada’s fighter fleet with 88 advanced jets. You can find out more here.

The panel discussed how their own procurement processes were challenged and the fact that it was fascinating to watch how the teams were working to make this RFP happen with industry in a fair, open and transparent manner. It’s a real privilege to know your team is a part of this effort and as a Canadian, in a small way, you are helping your country, both personally and professionally.

Looking forward to Outlooks 2020!

If you’d like to find out more about how our Canadian team can support your next defense procurement, get in touch here

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