Transforming 40,000 databases into one consolidated logistics system
- By Paul McCloskey
- Oct 14, 2015
The Army is well into a project it has called the “most significant transformation effort in history for a logistics information system.“
The Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS-Army) is designed to merge the work of 40,000 local databases that perform tactical, supply, property, maintenance and financial logistics functions. The new system will support nearly 154,000 end users in the Army, National Guard and Army Reserve.
Using enterprise resource management software from SAP, the system seeks to offer commanders a composite view of logistical data to sharpen decision-making on and off the battlefield.
“For the first time, GCSS-Army is tying in a logistics function for all associated financial transactions into a single consolidated database,“ said Lt. Col. Christopher Romero, product manager of GCSS-Army.
By providing near-real-time information on cost and supplies, the system will enable commanders to build “a complete logistics picture where they can make sound tactical decisions, manage budgets effectively and enhance their readiness,“ he added.
The goal is to have a unified view — “one version of the truth in real-time data,“ Romero said — of the logistics status of Army units that is available anywhere, anytime.
Those features will also eliminate the need to reconcile costs between the older systems — a benefit the Army estimates will save two hours a day for the average soldier working at a supply office. Furthermore, the system is a key component of the Army’s strategy to be financially auditable by the end of fiscal 2017.
The Army has divided the massive transition into two waves. In Wave 1, expected to occur in fiscal 2016, the Army will switch out all Standard Army Retail Supply System and associated financial management systems. In Wave 2 , the Army will replace the Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced and the Standard Army Maintenance System-Enhanced.
In addition, the Army has mounted a significant program to educate users on the new system through simulations and other online exercises. The backbone of the initiative is a website that offers training materials on new applications and new terminology. Simply changing the term “requisition” to “purchase order” can affect business processes and users at all levels of the Army, Romero noted.
“Soldiers are more tech savvy today,“ he added, “but it’s critical they get informed about the program early, take the web-based training and provide stakeholders [with] feedback.“
Army officials say the GCSS project is already beginning to pay for itself, primarily by avoiding the costs related to managing legacy logistics systems. Within the first years of full system deployment, the Army expects to save at least $8 billion in avoidable costs.
Paul McCloskey is senior editor of GCN. A former editor-in-chief of both GCN and FCW, McCloskey was part of Federal Computer Week's founding editorial staff.