News: Logisticians learn Strategic Management System
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Logisticians assigned to units and organizations at Fort Carson and Fort Sill learned how to operate the Strategic Management System during a four-day class at the Fort Carson Training Support Center, Feb. 6-9.
SMS is a computer program designed to help its users create and gather data, and provides an efficient way to analyze and report findings, said Joe Daniels, one of the class instructors.
“Most of the time in the Army, when we give a brief it is all slides and spreadsheets; we are trying to automate that process,” Daniels explained. “Someone has to create those slides and pull the data together. This software pulls the data together and creates the brief.”
Daniels said the software could be used for tracking everything from how many soldiers frequent their brigade dining facilities, to the number of pens ordered by a company supply room, and a platoon’s Army Physical Fitness Test scores.
Once users are comfortable with the software, the SMS could save units hundreds of man hours, said Daniels.
“Within my brigade, to create one brief across 11 different functional mission sets, takes about 800 man-hours,” he said. “Utilizing this software, we can condense that down to about 100.”
Streamlining the way the units and directorates collect and process data could be vital for maintaining efficiency in an Army with ever changing demands, he said.
“As the Army transitions from a war time army to a peace time army, we are looking at budget cuts and man power cuts,” he said. “We are trying to be more efficient with what we have. We want to do more with less.”
One of the major benefits to the SMS is the ability to track data over an extended period of time, said class participant Kathryn Hardy Jones, a logistics management specialist at the Fort Carson Directorate of Logistics.
“If you know what you want to measure, this program can save a lot of time,” Jones said. “For those of us who have to collect a lot of data and produce slides often, this program can really help us.”
Jones, who had minor experience with the SMS prior to the class, said the key to understanding the program is maintaining the “So what?” factor.
“You have to know what you want your outcome to be,” she said. “You can’t just plug in numbers and expect it to work for you. We have to build the foundation for what you want the program to show you, then let it go to work. That is why I’m glad I’m learning how to use it more efficiently now.”
Leaders at the highest echelons of Army command use the SMS to organize, monitor and report on plans and objectives, said Kathy Callahan, director of the Army Strategic Management System Program Office.
“It can be used at the operational or tactical level very effectively, but it was really designed for operations at the strategic level,” said Callahan. “The great thing about SMS, though, is that it is flexible, so people can go into the system and use it however they see fit.”
Callahan said she would like to see more units showing an interest in the SMS program.
“In this austere environment we are facing, with our waning budget, we have to learn how to be more efficient, more effective,” Callahan said. “How do you do that if you don’t have a tool to measure progress? This is the best tool for that mission.”