Improvements to the Standard Procurement System-Army in time for end of year activity
September 26, 2012
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.- The fourth quarter is a busy time of year for Army contracting professionals and the challenge for many is a combination of the sheer volume of contracts, the complexity of each transactions and also accessing and using the Standard Procurement System-Army to process the transactions.
"There is a mad rush at the end of every fiscal year to get requirements on contract in order to serve our customers and ensure the Army meets its mission successfully," explained Gino Magnifico, Army Contracting Command chief information officer G6. "This year ACC has implemented technology improvements that will help SPS-A users reach SPS-A faster and move more data more quickly across the system."
With more than 6,000 end users in the Army worldwide, SPS-A processed over 244,000 actions worth $88 billion in goods and services last year. Keeping the system running smoothly, while implementing upgrades and onboarding new users, is a challenge but one that G6 team has well under control according to Stayton.
"We anticipated the fourth quarter will be a time of intense usage and we made some significant changes to the system so users can be assured they'll have access and responsiveness from SPS-A," explained Ed Stayton, chief, G6 enterprise operations.
ACC G6 recently completed moving all physical servers into a consolidated, virtual environment, and Stayton said that allows G6 to make changes and adjustments quickly. As a result, users will see a marked improvement in SPS-A performance over previous years.
"Virtualization allows us to add more processors, memory or even more servers to meet requirements in hours versus days," Stayton said.
The consolidation also allows maintenance and updates to all be done from one location, eliminating the need individual sites to perform system administration and annual upgrades, thus saving time, money and resources.
G6 also installed new interfaces to help optimize connection to the system, addressing the two biggest problems users have experienced: time delays and disconnects.
"The new interfaces have already reduced latency [time delay] and improved connectivity across the command," said Stayton. "We'll continue to improve. While we can't control what happens on a network, we are working to ensure that users can reestablish their session without losing the work they've already completed."
In the meantime, SPS-A users can help make the fourth quarter contracts rush go more smoothly on their end by following three easy suggestions. The first is to get to know their local functional administrator. If users don't know who this is, users are encouraged to contact Stayton (email: email@example.com; phone: (256) 955-8610).
The second thing users can do to help make the fourth quarter a little easier is to ensure their system has the most current approved plug-ins. The latest version of CITRIX is version 12.1. If users' plug-ins are not up-to-date, they should contact their local functional administrator to get the latest versions installed.
Finally, SPS-A users should consider reducing their time using the COGNOS reporting tool during the fourth quarter. COGNOS is processor-intensive and, as a result, slows down the database that runs SPS-A for all users. Instead, users are encouraged to use the Army Contacting Business Intelligence System for reports. To support this, the ACBIS interface at SPS-A has been updated to run hourly to provide the most up to date reporting possible.
"By following these top three tips, along with the virtualization and other improvements we've made on our end, users should have a much smoother experience with SPS-A during the fourth quarter," predicts Stayton.