As the lead contractor in a mammoth 12-year project that, in a nutshell, changes the way the Army does business, Computer Sciences Corp. is putting its own methodologies and best practices to the test.
Seven years into the LMP (Logistics Modernization Program) for the U.S. Army Materiel Command, CSC continues to learn important lessons about large-scale systems integration work.
No strangers to big systems integration projects, CSC officials in El Segundo, Calif., said that the LMP—which is updating a 30-year-old logistics management system based on 25-year-old business processes—is among the most comprehensive to date for the $11.3 billion company.
“In size, complexity and resources, the LMP is one of the biggest ERP [enterprise resource planning] projects for our Federal Sector business unit,” said Sheri Thureen, vice president and program manager at CSCs enterprise business center.
The USAMC provides and oversees the technology, equipment, and parts and pieces that go into readiness for the U.S. military worldwide. Its LPM serves approximately 1 million military personnel spread across 149 fixed locations in 41 states and 38 countries, who need supply and support for 6 million items worth more than $40 billion in goods and services.
The USAMC is involved in manufacturing and delivering items such as combat rations, tents, gauze bandages, ammunition and bombs, as well as repairing Marine Corps tank engines and Air Force radar, for example.
“The ultimate business benefit of the LMP is to provide global visibility into the USAMC IT systems so that informed decisions can be made quickly and actions can be taken to maintain the highest state of readiness for the customer, the war fighter,” said Thureen. The USAMC also is expected to realize millions of dollars in savings.
Working with major vendors—such as SAP, IBM and Raytheon, among others—and large management and technology consulting companies such as BearingPoint, CSC also coordinates the efforts of approximately 30 smaller businesses that provide resource expertise for the LMP.
CSC is responsible not only for the modernization of the USAMCs legacy systems and the adoption of best practices but also for the support of the existing legacy systems and business model throughout the duration of the project.
“Were providing a total package to the USAMC, including large project management capabilities, strong methodology and the ability to take on resources,” said Thureen.
Today, there are 450 CSC employees and 130 government personnel on the LMP project, according to Thureen. Those numbers will swell to approximately 700 CSC employees and approximately 250 government personnel when the entire deployment gets under way. “The additional people help out with training and organizational change,” Thureen said.
Since CSC was awarded the contract in 1999, the systems integrator has completed an initial deployment of the LMP. The pilot deployment, in July 2003, involved six locations—primarily 4,300 users at the USAMCs C-ELCMC (Communications-Electronics Life Cycle Management Command), which is responsible for the support of electronic weapons systems.
“This first deployment provides users with 80 percent of the new ERP system functionality, such as manufacturing, procurement, financials and logistics,” said Thureen.
A second deployment, which will provide an additional 10 percent functionality, is scheduled for 2008. The third, and final, deployment will take place shortly thereafter, depending on funding, Thureen said. When finished, the new LMP will serve 49,000 civilians and 1,500 military personnel.
From the outset, a key component to the LMPs success has been developing strong three-way relationships at all levels of the USAMC, SAP and CSC organizations.
“Were not talking about a one-time call among parties. Were taking about ongoing communications to make sure that all parties are apprised of the program and progress,” Thureen said. “We had people in very senior positions, from CSC, SAP and the Army, committed to the program and supporting the solution.”
In fact, Thureen noted that, after the pilot deployment, a four-star Army general, the CEO of SAP and the president of CSCs Federal Sector business unit communicated daily for two weeks, receiving daily reports and keeping up on the status of issues and their resolution.
“This was a very unique commitment to communication that involved senior people at these organizations, and it continues today,” Thureen said.
In addition to these high-level meetings, Thureen meets weekly with SAP experts and participates in a monthly review with both SAP representatives and an Army Materiel Command general, all of whom are responsible for delivery of the program.
To foster the communication critical to the global LMP build, CSC arranged for select CSC staff, military personnel and SAP staff to all work at a CSC facility in Moorestown, N.J.
“By co-locating the best team personnel, we can focus on, without distractions, the design and development of the business processes that drive the evolution of the project,” said Thureen.
While there isnt an ERP program that doesnt stress the importance of data cleansing, CSC continues to learn the importance of getting accurate data into the system early on as well as strong business ownership of the data.
“In this project in particular, the magnitude of the data issues involved from accumulation of 30 years in legacy systems was enormous,” said Thureen. More specifically, she noted that 10 million data elements were converted during the first pilot deployment alone.
A second lesson learned from the LMP project involved business transformation and the need to address and get sponsorship from all levels of the organization during this process. That means getting key business staff involved in defining business processes and adopting change agents who play a critical role during the transformation.
At the end of the day, said Thureen, “this becomes a business transformation and change project, not an IT technology project.”
Finally, CSC learned that the USAMC environment required that it allot time for establishing activities that address applications related to public-sector compliancy and certification issues.
Today—with $4.5 billion worth of inventory loaded into the MySAP Business Suite solution, nearly 4,000 users, 50 vendors and 1.6 million transactions daily—the USAMC is already realizing benefits from the revamped LMP, said Thureen. “[It] has reduced inventory by 5 percent and has improved resource efficiency by 5 percent,” she said.
CSCs original contract has been extended another two years, and the company continues to work on compliance, data cleansing and supporting the first deployment.
Lynn Haber is a freelance writer in Norwell, Mass. Contact her at email@example.com.
Case File: USAMC
- Business problem: To modernize the U.S. militarys vast array of legacy systems used to manage its logistics
- Solutions partner: CSC, lead contractor
- Recommended solution: MySAP Business Suite software to provide a single, integrated, commercial off-the-shelf ERP solution
- Time frame: Contract signed, 1999; first implementation, July 2003; second implementation, 2008; final implementation, not yet scheduled
- Return on investment: The ability to make quick decisions and achieve the highest state of combat readiness; USAMC, in Fort Belvoir, Va., is also expected to save millions of dollars