As Enterprise Business System (EBS) continue to evolve, the Army will be better able to operate its financial and logistic systems at the speed of conflict. As the transformation continues in the information age, the Army is looking to simplify, streamline, and standardize business operations—the sustainment and financial operations your teammates work daily—to increase readiness using one unified system. The intent is to provide Soldiers, the civilian workforce, and contactors a modernized warfighting capability that enables integrated operations from the strategic support area to the tactical edge of the battlefield for rapid, informed decision-making at the echelon.
With any change, there is uncertainty. The General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS), GFEBS-Sensitive Activities, Global Combat Support System-Army, Logistic Modernization Program, Headquarters Army Environmental System, and Army Enterprise Systems Integration Program are the primary systems being considered for convergence. These systems are EBS, the Army’s term to describe the hardware and software that teams operate daily. These systems are based on commercial software, which become more expensive to operate with age. Consider the applications on your smartphone — they are updated often, and if you don’t allow the updates, soon you can’t use it anymore. Companies do not want to support legacy software. Doing so gets expensive. The Army can become more efficient using industry best practices and embracing rapid software technology improvements. This decreases costs while providing a better interface and experience for Soldiers and civilians.
The Army EBS software must be updated, integrated, efficient, and effective to win future great power competitions. Convergence allows for the development of better software systems from the GCCS-Army operator in a motor pool at Fort Hood, Texas, to a budget analyst at a desk in Grafenwoehr, Germany.
Today, the Army’s various EBSs have more than 164,000 users—the contractors, civilians, and Soldiers who manage more than $250 billion in funds, equipment, and assets across the Army. These stats rival some of the largest and most influential companies in the world. The current EBS suites brought the Army from the age of paper and desktop computing with labor-intensive “reporting to higher” into the connected enterprise environment used today. In the past 20 years, the Army has merged a dozen legacy systems, established authoritative centralized data sources to standardize cataloging and configuration, eliminated the “daily disk drop” and status updates, removed the need for transaction reconciliations between systems, and improved transparency of our inventory and assets from foxhole to depot. We have come a long way, but it’s time to take the next leap.
Business Process Reengineering—what is it and why are we doing this?
Instead of simply replacing existing software, a new system called Enterprise Business System Convergence (EBS-C) begins with the foundational business processes. EBS-C Business Process Reengineering (BPR) rethinks how work is performed to accomplish supply, transportation, acquisition, maintenance, deployment/redeployment/retrograde, and finance goals.
BPR begins by defining the challenges with current work processes and ensures we focus on solving the right problems. To accomplish BPR in a comprehensive, collaborative environment, the Army brought together more than 400 of its best people from more than 26 organizations to serve as process owners, subject matter experts, and policy experts. Including the impacted and invested people from the very beginning builds buy-in and sets the stage for the better adoption of new processes and assures organizational change management is baked into the process reengineering effort. The population of experts ranged from “field-to-factory” world-class technology and architecture specialists, to industrial supply chain consultants, and to career Soldiers and civilians. The vast majority of those personnel have decades of experience navigating through the challenges the Army faces from the unit level to the strategic depots. The Army has never conducted BPR at this scale before.
The personnel were then divided into teams of specialized expertise to conduct BPR in one of the dozen end-to-end processes within the integrated supply chain during an eight-month period. The BPR process owners led their teams through intensive daily workshops, assessing the current processes, identifying friction points, gaps, and integration requirements to truly understand the challenges across all classes of supply and each echelon of the Army’s supply chain.
Through consultation with commercial industry supply chain experts, the BPR process teams identified opportunities to adopt best practices employed by industry leaders as part of the redesigned Army processes. Teams proposed converged solutions to enable planning, integration, monitoring, and assessments across engineering, logistics, acquisition, financial management, and supply chain activities to enhance decision-making and increase operational readiness. Each team sought to introduce automated technologies that will reduce inaccuracies in data management, increase the availability of key information for rapid decision making, and enhance the overall user experience. Additionally, recommendations provided opportunities to standardize policies and processes to improve integration across the DOD by decreasing variances in lexicons, automating data transfers, and converging solutions that enhance the execution of support activities across the force.
Each BPR team followed the EBS-C guiding principles throughout every workshop to challenge legacy habits rather than simply repackaging “how we do it today” into the new technology.
- Challenge the Status Quo. Break the boundaries of what is possible and challenge the way things have “always been done.”
- Value People First. Create value in partnership with the EBS community to benefit the warfighter and workforce.
- Embrace Change. Adopt a growth mindset in all actions that enables the team to improvise, adapt, and overcome.
- Practice Radical Honesty. Embrace productive conflict to drive productive disruption. Foster a safe environment to share and challenge ideas. Communicate with authenticity, respect, and truthfulness.
- Create One Team, One Fight, One Product. Seek out partnerships, erase the line between “us and them,” and use lessons learned from those who have come before to achieve a common mission.
Business process reengineering gets the Army closer to fully understanding the requirements to ensure it’s the best solution. BPR allows the Army to rethink the fundamental processes behind acquiring, managing, and sustaining equipment; budgeting, funding, accounting for, and reporting financial and materiel resources; and how units deploy and sustain equipment and warfighters. Additionally, EBS-C BPR leverages commercial best practices to reduce the cost to the Army for unnecessary customization of EBS-C.
By fully understanding the processes, friction points, gaps, and integrations, some challenges can be solved today while ensuring optimal future converged capability. Employing agile software development will involve process owners and subject matter experts in the development cycle, providing real-time feedback on design and operation to ensure the best product gets into the user’s hands.
As the Army continues forward with EBS-Convergence, the overarching theme is to be “as commercial as possible; as military as necessary,” which enables stakeholders to capitalize on information-age capabilities, rapid-paced software improvements, reduced customization, and eventual divestiture of legacy systems. By basing proposed solutions on the commercial industry’s best practices, the Army will ensure EBS-C can support large-scale ground combat operations in a multi-domain theater.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gregory Besaw serves as the senior warrant officer of Enterprise Business Systems Convergence Multifunctional Capabilities Team. He served three years in HQDA G-4 in his previous assignment, authoring strategic policy, procedures, and orders for property accountability. He holds a master's degree in Management- (Logistics Management) from the Florida Institute of Technology and is certified as a Demonstrated Master Logistician by the International Society of Logistics.
Chris Lindstrom is a business process reengineering professional for the U.S. Army’s Business Process Reengineering (BPR) Center of Excellence (CoE), responsible for increasing BPR capabilities through a broad range of curriculum offerings and improvement projects. The BPR CoE implements a standardized methodology for BPR and provides support services for reengineering the Army’s business processes. He is currently assigned as the BPR Lead for the Enterprise Business System - Convergence (EBS-C) program.
This article was published in the Oct-Dec 2021 issue of Army Sustainment.