By Mr. Larry D Mccaskill (ACC)July 18, 2012
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--The fourth quarter is a busy time of each fiscal year for Army contracting professionals and the challenge for many is a combination of the sheer volume of contracts, the complexity of each transaction, 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 deputy chief of staff, G6, chief information officer. "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 users in the Army worldwide, SPS-A processed more than 244,000 actions worth $88 billion in products and services last year. According to Ed Stayton, chief, G6 enterprise operations, keeping the system running smoothly, while implementing upgrades and onboarding new users, is a challenge but one that the G6 team has well under control.
"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," Stayton explained.
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 for individual sites to perform system administration and annual upgrades, thus saving time, money and resources."
G6 also installed new interfaces to help optimize connectivity 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 sessions 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 suggestions. The first is to get to know their local information technology functional administrator. If users don't know who this is, users are encouraged to contact Stayton at email@example.com or (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 the CITRIX software 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 software 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 Contracting 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 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.