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Author's profile photo Dante Ricci

Utilizing Cross Industry Composite Applications to solve Defense Issues

Utilizing Cross Industry Composite Applications to solve Defense Issues


In my last blog titled “Why not use the Composite Application framework [CAF] to quickly fill any Defense application need?” I described how composite applications could unify people and processes with a smart integration platform that hides underlying system complexity which in turn enables the organizational synergy Defense organizations need.  I also communicated that since composite applications ran across multiple existing applications and information sources, they drove critical end-to-end processes across heterogeneous systems in accordance with organizational strategy.


The intent of my first blog however was based on the idea that Defense customers can use enterprise services to build out new composite apps from scratch.  I did not discuss the fact that Defense customers could take advantage of composite applications that have already been developed for other situations.  In this blog I would like to explore that very possibility by giving a clear example of how Defense organizations can utilize one or multiple composite applications as building blocks to facilitate business innovation while leveraging their existing resources.  The example I chose has been already created utilizing this tactic for the US Base Realignment and Closure program. 


Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) is the process the US DoD is using to reorganize its installation infrastructure.  BRAC provides funding for readiness, modernization, and quality of life and ensures that base structure facilitates, rather than impedes, the transformation of the military.  This is not the first time the US military has gone through a BRAC process and in past rounds they used different systems for facility management, financial management, program management and project management which made it difficult to consolidate costs and comply with legislative requirements.  This also led to unclear estimation of cost, time and capacity as well as an overall lack of information and performance metric visibility.  


To alleviate these and other  BRAC issues the military needs a solution set that can run on top of their multiple heterogeneous systems and can combine information from multiple sources to provide accurate timely information to the right organization and stakeholder.  The military could also benefit by standardizing many of their functional business processes. 


Many standard SAP applications solutions can handle allot of the requirements.  However, many of the different Defense organizations that participate in the BRAC initiative use different systems and it would be difficult to get them to agree to a common database, data structure or to utilize one standard program management system.  Additionally, the cost of ripping out their existing systems and replacing it with an enterprise solution would not be cost effective and would never be able to be stood up in time to meet the legislative BRAC compliance deadlines.


However, SAP composites could help by allowing the Defense department to utilize a technology solution that can combine information from multiple sources and provide rapid access to accurate information.  It would provide this highly scrutinized and visible effort a platform for congressional and department oversight and also enable accountability at the federal, department, service, installation and state and local levels. 


With these issues in mind we (some other SAP colleagues and I) looked at the existing composite applications portfolio and pulled out two composite applications (SAP Resource and Portfolio Management [xRPM] and SAP Emissions Management [xEM]) that could be utilized across the BRAC effort to provide an integration platform for role-based performance reporting, enterprise project portfolio management and environmental mitigation.  The solution could conserve the resources that would typically be used for data conversion and mining as well as provide additional capabilities that are not available throughout the Defense enterprise today.  These two composites could be quickly implemented and configured to provide a role-based project dashboard that can report on BRAC progress at the program, installation, service or OSD level as well as provide a common platform for collaboration and communication and provide analytics delivered out of the box for monitoring and managing all aspects of the BRAC initiative. 


xRPM can be easily configured to apply to BRAC Program/Project Management requirements.  xRPM can give a complete overview of the BRAC program including planned, proposed and current projects and can assign clear responsibilities and commitments on project deliverables (e.g. tasks, due dates etc.).  It also has the unique ability to force standards (templates, WBS, processes, procedures) across multiple enterprises and can utilize feeder systems to provide a role based view of real-time information. xRPM comes with out of the box  bidirectional integration not only with other SAP products but also Microsoft projects which many installations use today.    


xEM which was initially built to monitor emissions can be configured  to manage environmental compliance including identification and remediation so that installations can turn over unused land to local entities without environmental problems.  xEM can also generate the required documents and forms within regulated time frames and can work in conjunction with xRPM so that BRAC projects address all environmental requirements within the same system.   



By configuring these two existing composite applications the US Defense Department could quickly manage key performance indicators at all levels, rationalize BRAC with the new defense strategy and enhance visibility, compliance and control.  Both of these composites could execute flexible workflow and business processes irrespective of underlying infrastructure which can accelerate return on investment by leveraging what is already in place.


Since these two composite applications are based on services already provided by other functional components and combine available service operations with new application logic and business process orchestration they not only can help with the current BRAC initiative but they could also give Defense organizations a transformational tool set for other current and future initiatives.  This in turn increases the militaries level of adaptability which can evolve to support different efforts as requirements change.

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      Author's profile photo Lonnie Ayers
      Lonnie Ayers
      Hi Dante
        A little Background.
         As it happens, working with Robbins-Gioia, inc way back in the 80s, we invented what came to be known as the Post Depot Maintenance Support System (PDMSS) while I worked at the SA-ALC in San Antonio, TX, which essentially brought together hundreds of existing DOD systems to produce a daily project plan for the depot.  This system was subsequently adopted by a large number of the depots (84 of them at that time) and am sure it has changed a lot over the years.  The BRAC commission used cost information from this system when deciding whether to close down the Pensacola NAS depot(they did, its cost were among the highest at the time-cost being known as Output Per Paid Man-Day, an ugly KPI deserving its own blog).  At the time, the capabilities of SAP in the project management system were limited and composites were yet to be developed or even dreamed of.  Our system provided what I termed dynamically reprogrammable PERT/CPM capabilities  (catchy, eh:) and provided us an early Theory of Constraints capability.
         The results: Whereas a typical B-52 was coming out of the depot 9 months behind schedule, on a 9 month schedule, meaning it was there 18 months, the first one through the system using this system came out 2 weeks early! Great Value Case.
         I believe you are correct in that a composite application could be developed which would assist the BRAC commission in their force realignment activities.  However, it would have to be tied closely to the overall Strategic Planning process of the DOD.  The existing systems are designed to facilitate the processes of the DOD, not the BRAC.  At last count, there were more than 4400 DOD systems out there, and somehow, we need to get them 'rationalized' while fighting wars globally, roughly speaking, a task akin to changing the wings of an airplane while flying.

      My list of needed capabilities for a new and improved PDMSS+BRAC support application would include:

      1. Integration capabilities with all DOD systems, going all the way back to FORTRAN and COBOL and RPG.  Primarily this is because the systems will not be retired quickly or easily.
      2. Simplified Interface for all end-users-GI Proof
      3. Much deeper visibility into Foreign Military Sales items+dollars flowing through the DOD. 
      4. Strategic Planning Process Support (beyond core DFPS capabilities, which are already significant)
      5. War Gaming Stress Testing of the system (Find where it fails).
      6. Incorporate Edison ideation capabilities.


      Lonnie Ayers