By Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jonathan O. YerbyApril 1, 2019
For the last few decades, stovepipe logistics information systems (LISs) were the cornerstone of sustainment operations. Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS-Army) and other Army enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, such as the Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army (IPPS-A), the General Funds Enterprise Business System (GFEBS), and the Logistics Modernization Program (LMP), have quickly changed the way the sustainment community has met the readiness and auditability needs of the Army. These systems replaced legacy LISs, providing sustainment and non-sustainment professionals with greater visibility of near-real-time data.
Operators, middle and senior managers, and senior leaders must be trained and educated to leverage enterprise solutions to effectively and efficiently sustain the Army warfighting functions. CASCOM training developers, with the assistance of the GCSS-Army program management office, established the GCSS-Army Training Strategy to define how training is developed and executed throughout the total force. This strategy is intended to mitigate training and learning gaps that the operational force is encountering during implementation.
The strategy provides a framework for leaders and operators to learn, grow, and sustain GCSS-Army proficiency through the institutional, operational, and self-development training domains. It covers all levels of professional military education (PME) and initial military training (IMT). Leaders at all levels will execute the strategy to build GCSS-Army proficiency by leveraging new tools to train the force on integrated end-to-end business processes.
The goal of the GCSS-Army Training Strategy is to provide Soldiers, Department of the Army (DA) civilians, and contractors with the knowledge and skills to operate, manage, and make decisions using all of GCSS-Army's capabilities. The training framework must be flexible but rigid enough to produce operators, managers, and senior leaders capable of performing and understanding end-to-end business processes.
Each Army component must develop a training plan that best fits its needs. All must become familiar with GCSS-Army functions, processes, and capabilities and train these to proficiency.
The strategy and tools invested in for training our sustainment professionals deliver the means for a realistic and agile training environment that enables increased readiness across all ERP systems. Our sustainment Soldiers are dealing with issues encountered during the past five years of the GCSS-Army fielding caused by the revolutionary ERP focus on business process solutions and an inadequate training strategy to effectively leverage these processes.
All Army components are dealing with inexperience among operators, managers, and instructors. Soldiers who did not receive training as part of the fielding plan and those who have not worked with GCSS-Army will continue to be trained in order to build a proficient force of GCSS-Army operators and managers. That will increase readiness for large-scale ground combat operations.
Linking GCSS-Army capabilities to their impact on Army readiness and auditability is an important element of the training strategy. Education and training must describe the relationship between ERP data and mission command systems data that commanders will use to make decisions. ERP data is leveraged by mission command systems throughout the operational Army, but ERP systems are not recognized as part of today's mission command architecture. Including ERP systems in the mission command architecture is becoming more critical as we shape the Army to conduct Multi-Domain Operations.
Training to operate, manage, and make decisions within an ERP environment presents a unique set of challenges for all training domains. In the past, instructors and developers did not have to demonstrate integration points between the Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced, Standard Army Retail Supply System, and Standard Army Maintenance System-Enhanced platforms.
GCSS-Army engages multiple business areas through a single database that constantly changes in near-real time. This makes content development and delivery somewhat challenging for training developers and facilitators. The introduction of integrated business processes in a single enterprise solution demands an understanding of GCSS-Army to ensure data is developed through interactive scenario-based practical exercises.
Equally, instructors are challenged to facilitate learning based on limited functional experience with integrated business processes. Therefore, the knowledge needed to conduct effective training is in high demand. Unit-level trainers will experience this challenge as well and must constantly adapt training to meet the demands of new ERP capabilities.
The Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) has identified five specific training requirements in support of GCSS-Army implementation.
INSTRUCTOR KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE. The number of Soldiers proficient in GCSS-Army application across business areas is limited because of the short fielding time of GCSS-Army Wave II.
A LIVE TRAINING ENVIRONMENT FOR GCSS-ARMY. To effectively train and educate sustainment and non-sustainment leaders to effectively and efficiently leverage ERP capabilities, we must provide institutional training tools that replicate "live" GCSS-Army application business processes and ensure they are available for use by the institutional and operational Army. This environment needs to be available across all Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) centers of excellence, regional training sites, and installation troop schools.
MISSION COMMAND INTEGRATION. Army ERP systems, which include GCSS-Army, GFEBS, IPPS-A, and LMP, directly impact the warfighter by feeding logistics information into mission command systems. These ERP systems are not identified as mission critical components of the Digital Mission Command System architecture. Their exclusion adversely impacts the ability to effectively train and integrate them as part of mission command training.
TRAINING DEVELOPMENT AGILITY. Traditionally, very little technology has been used to develop training content, simulations, and scenarios for stovepipe LISs. ERP systems constantly update and change, demanding a new approach to training development. Leveraging new software technologies will aid in the development of training products for all training domains.
TRAINING RESOURCE MATERIALS. The development of institutional training products currently relies on training products from the product manager for GCSS-Army. These products include "End User Manual+" content and technical bulletins for system enhancements and new capabilities. A live training environment will mitigate the need for the institutional domain to rely solely on training that the product manager develops. That will improve training content delivered to the operational force by providing innovative scenario-based training to the point of need via training support packages and the GCSS-Army Education Environment.
The GCSS-Army Training Strategy
The GCSS-Army Training Strategy comprises four phases that support objectives and desired outcomes. The strategy ensures operators, middle managers, senior managers, and senior leaders will receive the training and education to effectively and efficiently leverage ERP capabilities.
CASCOM has implemented skills-based training and integrated a live training environment. Initially, this training focused on institutional instruction. However, it has grown to fulfill the operational and self-development training needs of the Army.
PHASE I. Whether attending officer, warrant officer, or noncommissioned officer courses or advanced individual training, students receive operator-level instruction using simulations that provide end-to-end scenarios on how to complete processes within GCSS-Army. Operator-level training provides Soldiers and leaders with an understanding of how to complete processes within an ERP solution.
Phase I of the training strategy is institutionally focused and the foundation for the training strategy. This phase relies on the analysis of product manager-provided new equipment training products. This analysis leads to the design and development of current and future military occupational specialty courses.
PHASE II. Phase II institutional training, which includes scenario-based training at the IMT and PME levels, will vary to incorporate training that is based on the duties and responsibilities of the student. Students in advance individual training are trained through vignettes and scenario-based instruction that focuses on best business practices for end-to-end process completion. Training for officers, warrant officers, and noncommissioned officers uses scenarios focused on analytics supporting causative research and analysis of reports and general data within GCSS-Army.
Phase II of the strategy is ongoing and contingent upon the incorporation of live training environments to assist in the development of military occupational specialty training, training support packages (TSPs), and targeted functional courses.
PHASE III. Phase III is the implementation and integration of the GCSS-Army Education Environment at all skill levels. This phase focuses on the operational and self-development domains of training and provides tools that enable training across the Army at all TRADOC centers of excellence and Forces Command (FORSCOM) troop schools. This training will take place using one sustainment common operational picture.
The GCSS-Army Education Environment consists of three key components that enable synchronized training across all training domains: a live training database, the uPerform training development tool, and an analytics dashboard.
The live training database provides GCSS-Army users with an agile, functional training platform where they can apply, analyze, and interpret data in a realistic environment that is available in classrooms across the Army.
The uPerform (SAP Productivity Pak) is a training design and development tool equipped with a web-based repository that lets trainers collaborate and share training throughout the Army. This tool provides the agility to keep pace and develop training for all training domains. Additionally, it will assist in ensuring one sustainment common operational picture, regardless of where training occurs.
A data analytics dashboard for training development assists in the analysis and development of current and future GCSS-Army courses. The tool will capture metrics to determine critical tasks and topics that need to be developed.
PHASE IV. GCSS-Army Education Environment integration across all TRADOC centers of excellence and FORSCOM troop schools is the fourth phase.
This phase empowers operators, middle managers, and senior managers with operational and self-development training opportunities provided through uPerform, e-learning, and instructor-led courses at FORSCOM troop schools and TRADOC's institutional and regional training sites.
OBJECTIVES AND OUTCOMES
CASCOM is the proponent for GCSS-Army institutional training and post-new equipment training sustainment. GCSS-Army directly impacts readiness and all Soldiers, DA civilians, and contractors conducting unit supply, property book, maintenance, warehouse, and materiel management functions in support of the Army mission.
Training must exceed users' expectations and include realistic, agile training enablers that expand across all domains of training at the point of need. Operators must be given the knowledge and understanding to effectively execute GCSS-Army business processes. Middle and senior managers must have an understanding of the application and focus on analyzing and evaluating system capabilities. Senior leaders must have the training needed to evaluate ERP data and make critical decisions that will affect readiness in real time.
Figure 1 shows the correlation between Bloom's Taxonomy and training of operators, middle managers, and senior managers. It highlights the level of training received by Soldiers, DA civilians, and contractors throughout their careers. The chart represents a career and lifelong learning continuum that begins with institutional training and grows through on-the-job experience and targeted self-development.
The compilation of institutional training, operational on-the-job training, and self-development leads to the ability to analyze and interpret data in order to provide leaders with the knowledge to make readiness decisions using relevant actionable data.
THE WAY AHEAD
We must continue to improve the tools needed to properly train and educate personnel by integrating ERP training into IMT, PME, troop schools, and unit-level training. We must use the same training across the force to create one common training and sustainment picture for the entire Army.
Using new training technologies and tools to develop interactive e-learning will enable synchronization across all training domains. Teaching instructors and training developers to better utilize the live ERP training databases to facilitate training and create scenario-based instruction will improve IMT, PME, troop school, and functional courses.
Training developers will need to determine ERP training requirements for GCSS-Army business areas, including requirements identified through the Command and General Staff College, Army War College, and Pre-Command Course. Additionally, the Army Common Operating Picture and data analytics should be integrated into PME, functional courses, and senior leader courses throughout all TRADOC centers of excellence.
By gather data and feedback from the troop school and regional training sites, we will be able to enhance training support products. We must also partner with colleges and universities to provide credentialing and certification for junior and senior leaders.
We must link ERP training capabilities with facilities and equipment to replicate operational environments and total GCSS-Army business process integration. The development of fully integrated end-to-end processes depends on the integration of the Army ERP systems. Today most of the end-to-end business processes are interfaced and rely on external manual processes and input versus true ERP end-to-end process integration.
We must continue to enhance ERP capabilities by improving the users' experience, modernizing, and integrating the entire enterprise in order to benefit from a total enterprise environment.
Using better training tools is already improving training across all Army components. Training developers have replaced static data views associated with the legacy systems with scenario-based instruction that leverages constantly changing data.
New training venues provide the tools to achieve truly integrated ERP training, and the dynamic training environment requires leaders to think outside the box. Realistic and agile ERP training is building operator, manager, and leader proficiency to meet operational needs and increase readiness.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jonathan O. Yerby is the command chief warrant officer for the Combined Arms Support Command. He previously served as the 14th Regimental Chief Warrant Officer of the Quartermaster Corps at Fort Lee, Virginia.
This article was published in the April-June 2019 issue of Army Sustainment.