Since the early 1990s, the Army has been undergoing
a transformation aimed at responding to a rapidly changing
world environment. A significant component of this transformation
has been the modernization of the Army’s logistics processes.
The Army is transitioning its logistics processes from an
echeloned, mass-inventory approach to a more efficient and
responsive distribution system based on the availability and
use of accurate information. As a key enabler of this process
transformation, the Army decided to move away from multiple,
stand-alone custom software applications to an integrated,
commercial Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. That
solution is based on the mySAP Business Suite, which is being
implemented as two distinct logistics domains, national and
tactical. [“mySAP” is a product of the German
software company SAP. It is an e-business software integration
tool that allows users to access the applications that are
appropriate to their needs.]
Now the Army is moving to connect the national and tactical
logistics domains through a program called Global Combat Support
System-Army (GCSS-Army) Product Lifecycle Management Plus (PLM+).
Army logisticians need to be more aware of what GCSS-Army
(PLM+) is, how it fits into the Single Army Logistics Enterprise
(SALE), and what benefits can be derived from it. [Under SALE,
the Army will integrate its national and tactical logistics
systems into one fully integrated, end-to-end enterprise.]
Bridging the National- and Tactical-Level Domains
In December 1999, the Army Materiel Command awarded a contract
for the Logistics Modernization Program (LMP) to Computer
Sciences Corporation. LMP is designed to replace two legacy
mainframe computer applications associated with logistics
processes at the national level—the Commodity Command
Standard System and the Standard Depot System. The first prototype
deployment of LMP—to the Army Communications-Electronics
Command—took place in July 2003.
In April 2002, the Army directed a change in GCSS-Army (Field/Tactical)
[GCSS-Army (F/T)], shifting from a custom development strategy
to an ERP solution. This critical logistics transformation
effort is intended to re-place 14 legacy tactical or field
logistics systems—such as the Standard Army Retail Supply
System and the Standard Army Maintenance System—with
GCSS-Army F/T and replace their custom-coded legacy applications
with the mySAP solution. GCSS-Army (F/T) has completed the
initial blueprinting phase.
Even though both the national and tactical solutions will use
mySAP, integration of the Army’s logistics processes
is not ensured. It requires a single, end-to-end business blueprint
and the use of technologies that are optimized by SAP to manage
business process interactions across business mission areas.
GCSS-Army (PLM+) is the critical link for integrating the
current LMP and GCSS-Army F/T programs, as well as for the
future implementation of SALE. With GCSS-Army (PLM+), the Army
is establishing the organizational and technical framework
for a fully integrated logistics enterprise as reflected
in the SALE vision. By emphasizing a single solution, the
Army will minimize the long-term changes that might have been
required within the national and tactical domains if development
of those programs had continued in separate development environments.
Product Lifecycle Management Plus
The GCSS-Army (PLM+) program is the linchpin of SALE. It
provides the architectural planning that is crucial to bringing
as a successful enterprise, the separate SAP ERP solutions
being implemented by the LMP and GCSS-Army (F/T) programs.
Development of GCSS-Army (PLM+) is following an incremental
approach consistent with available resources. This incremental
approach prioritizes program resources to achieve incremental
ERP capabilities that will
support to the warfighters while preserving the SALE vision.
When the initial GCSS-Army (PLM+) increment is completed
successfully, the program will move to addressing product
End-to-end processes developed to encompass the entire logistics
enterprise landscape, to include the national level, will
in subsequent GCSS-Army (PLM+) increments. The result will
be an incremental approach to achieving the SALE vision.
The first increment of GCSS-Army (PLM+)—integrating
GCSS-Army (F/T) processes into the enterprise architecture—involves
translating business interface requirements into optimized
messages that will
flow through the GCSS-Army solution to and from users. The first
increment also will include full functionality for managing
and distributing customer and vendor master data. Thus GCSS-Army
(PLM+) will support
GCSS-Army tactical-level interfaces with users and establish
the foundation for building further master data capabilities
in support of SALE.
When fully deployed, GCSS-Army (PLM+) will assist with the
Army’s complex, sophisticated weapon-systems management
process. It will provide the catalyst for a product life-cycle
management process that operates in an open, standards-based
architecture and that can be integrated with the Army’s
depot and manufacturing execution, supply chain management,
customer relationship management, supplier relationship
management, and ERP solutions. A fully deployed GCSS-Army
will provide total life-cycle management, enterprise master
data, business intelligence, and SAP Enterprise Portal capabilities.
Total Life-Cycle Management
GCSS-Army (PLM+) will provide a wide range of life-cycle
management functions and capabilities.
Life-cycle data management. The integrated capabilities
for product and process engineering offered by GCSS-Army
will enable the Army to manage requirements, bills of material,
routing and resource data, recipes, computer-assisted design
models, and related technical documentation. [A bill of material
is a formal list of all the component parts of a product.
It contains data on the product, its assemblies, and their
and relationships.] GCSS-Army (PLM+) will provide sophisticated
change-management functions that will help ensure consistency
and accuracy of weapon system knowledge.
Life-cycle collaboration. GCSS-Army (PLM+) will allow the
Army to link all elements of support from development partners,
tactical units, and suppliers so that they can share project
plans, documents, service bulletins, and other information
across a virtual network.
Program and project management. GCSS-Army (PLM+) will enable
the Army to plan, manage, and control product portfolios
and the complete product development and depot management
including control project structures, schedules, costs, and
Quality management. GCSS-Army (PLM+) capabilities
will facilitate integrated quality management.
Asset life-cycle management. By using GCSS-Army (PLM+), the
Army will gain the capability to manage physical assets and
equipment availability over the life cycle of an asset, including
purchasing, operation, maintenance, and planning for replacement
Environment, health, and safety management. Through GCSS-Army
(PLM+), users will be able to manage Army and Department
of Defense (DOD) environment, health, and safety procedures
This will enhance the Army’s ability to comply with
Enterprise Master Data
A part of GCSS-Army (PLM+), SAP’s Master Data Management
(MDM) tool, will enable the Army to store, augment, and
consolidate master data while ensuring consistent distribution
data to all applications and systems within the logistics
Working across multiple systems locations, MDM will leverage
the power of a single logistics enterprise by providing
a more cost-effective approach to data management. By ensuring
data across systems, MDM will improve the execution of
business processes, resulting in a richer and timelier
decision support system.
Examples of data that can be synchronized across the Army
enterprise with MDM include—
• Customer master. This set of data includes critical customer
information relating to accounts and locations and unique
information about customer sets. Included are agency data required to
conduct logistics processes, such as Department of Defense
Automatic Addressing Codes (DODAACs), Unit Identification
Codes (UICs), and geographic data.
• Vendor master. Critical information on approved vendors relating
to accounts and locations and unique information relating
to products and services approved for purchase is included
in this data set. In GCSS-Army (PLM+), the vendor master
will consist of data from the Defense Logistics Information
Central Contractor Registry and the DOD Routing Identifier
• Material master. This data set includes a homogeneous set
of critical material information required by all business
applications, both ERP and legacy. Included are critical elements such as
item catalog information.
• Equipment master. The equipment master is a homogeneous set
of equipment information required by all business applications,
both ERP and legacy. Included are critical serial numbers
for air and ground systems, as well as selected sets of critical
components such as critical air safety items.
Successful use of business intelligence hinges on the ability
to provide integrated and actionable logistics information
across the enterprise to assist in the critical decisionmaking
process. The focus of business intelligence is to support
mission needs effectively and efficiently by providing
enterprise-wide key performance measurements, such as logistics
information. To do this, timely and content-rich information,
tailored to user requirements, must be available at all
times. GCSS-Army (PLM+), as the logistics information hub,
for the development of content-rich information critical
to all levels within the Army.
SAP Enterprise Portal
The SAP Enterprise Portal unifies key information and applications
to give users a single view that spans the enterprise. GCSS-Army
(PLM+) users will access the GCSS-Army (PLM+) solution through
the SAP Enterprise Portal. The Enterprise Portal will allow
quick and efficient integration of the SAP solutions within
GCSS-Army as well as third-party applications, legacy systems,
databases, unstructured documents, internal and external
Web content, and collaboration tools. Workflow functions
permit notifications about required approvals as well as
changes and requests to create or update master data within
Enterprise Portal will provide GCSS-Army users, partners,
and customers with instant, secure, and role-based access
to the information and applications they need.
Benefits of GCSS-Army (PLM+)
To minimize total ownership costs within the Army’s
ERP solution, with its integration of multiple instances
of both SAP-deployed and non-SAP activities, the
Army will move incrementally to a content-rich environment
characterized by continuous analysis of relevant logistics
information across the spectrum of the logistics domains.
The focus of this analysis will be to identify emerging
issues, problems, and faults associated with units, platforms,
components that have a direct bearing on readiness and
costs. This content-rich environment will permit greater
of the underpinnings of the health of warfighting elements
and allow the Army to focus resources to achieve the greatest
A fully realized GCSS-Army (PLM+) solution will provide
a number of benefits. Among the most vital are—
• Integrating SALE architecture, including consolidating development
• Providing a basis for SALE that satisfies all the requirements
of the GCSS-Army (F/T) Operational Requirements Document
approved by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council.
• Enabling the concepts of total life-cycle systems management
and end-to-end customer service.
• Providing visibility of logistics information on a real-time
basis, available to all users, thus fulfilling the promise
of assisting any authorized user, from any computer, at
• Assisting in full Government compliance with the requirements
of the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990.
Attaining compatibility with the Global Information Grid
(GIG). [According to the National Security Agency, GIG “will
be a net-centric system operating in a global context to
provide processing, storage, management, and transport
to support all DOD, national security, and related Intelligence
Community missions and functions...”]
• Promoting a single set of authoritative master data.
Achieving compliance with the standards contained in the Army’s
implementation of DOD’s Joint Technical Architecture
(Joint Technical Architecture-Army) and DOD Architecture
Framework and the requirements and documentation of the
• Leveraging the considerable experience and pool of artifacts
associated with DOD standards and architectures available
from LMP and GCSS-Army (F/T).
Increment 1 of GCSS-Army (PLM+) should be implemented by
fiscal year 2007. The timeline runs concurrently with, and
is synchronized with, the GCSS-Army (F/T) program
to ensure the success of the Army enter-prise solution. GCSS-Army
(PLM+) follow-on increments should be completed by fiscal
Logistics modernization is a major enabler within the overall
Army transformation efforts. Without this effort, the modernization
of Army logistics that is so vitally necessary will fall
short of the SALE vision.
Colonel David W. Coker is the Project Manager,
Logistics Information Systems (PM LIS). He holds a B.S. degree
administration, an M.S. degree in
procurement/contract management, a master’s degree in business administration,
and a master’s degree in national strategic resource management.
Lieutenant Colonel J. Gary Hallinan is the Product Manager, Product Lifecycle
Management Plus (PLM+). He holds a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering,
an M.B.A. degree, and an M.S. degree in logistics management. He is also
of the Engineer Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Army Command and
General Staff College, and the Program Management Office Course.