Army keeps score
- By Dan Caterinicchia, Dan Caterinicchia
- Aug 12, 2002
In an effort to better manage and measure the success of its ongoing transformation, the Army is automating a system to track how well it is doing in all business areas, not just in its combat units.
The Army has selected a contractor team to automate the new Strategic Readiness System (SRS), which is based on a balanced score card methodology that is designed to align strategic goals across an organization.
A balanced score card, part of the President's Management Agenda, is a set of measurements that helps agencies develop a strategy and stick to it.
In March, Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army's chief of staff, approved the Army score card, which identifies the metrics of each readiness area. The score card helps ensure that all levels of the Army align their operations to the service's enterprise vision and objectives, and it measures their success in achieving those goals.
Army Secretary Thomas White said that unit status reports used to measure the readiness, equipment and training of combat units, but SRS includes "the other three-quarters of the Army not currently formally measured."
Another key SRS benefit, White said, is that there are "no additional burdens on soldiers," because it takes advantage of existing systems (see box).
The Army will continue to use unit status reports along with SRS.
"Clearly, our means of assessing readiness were inefficient" and based on the Cold War-era mind-set, said Jack Spencer, a defense analyst with the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank. "The problem with applying that metric to current forces is that it is not comprehensive enough."
The Army deputy chief of staff for operations and plans' Strategic Readiness Operations Center conducted SRS training for core teams from headquarters and the major commands in March and April, and those teams completed and deployed score cards last month, said Maj. Chris Conway, a service spokesman. The division and separate brigade levels will complete their score cards by Aug. 31 and deploy them by October.
Booz Allen Hamilton, under a nearly $17 million contract awarded in April, is the prime contractor and information technology integrator for SRS. Bruce Tripp, SRS program manager at Booz Allen, said the company selected two subcontractors Balanced Scorecard Collaborative Inc. (BSCol) and Incisive Inc. to help deploy the system.
"We're working with the Army on the front end of the system to help them become a strategy-focused organization," said Laura Downing, senior vice president at BSCol. "We helped them develop the internal capabilities to develop and use balanced score cards as the
cornerstone of SRS."
CorVu Corp., a provider of enterprise performance management solutions, will automate the balanced score cards with its CorManage software, said Alan Missroon, a company vice president. CorVu started work in early June and has
already deployed the software for the Army.
The company's solution takes information and turns it into a series of score cards that are essentially cause-and-
effect diagrams, he said. "Our tool is then used to drill into those score cards, navigate the chain, and do analysis and reporting of [useful] data," he said.
CorVu representatives met with Army officials about two weeks ago to finalize the details of the work, but Missroon said he thinks the ultimate rollout will incorporate "thousands of users" and be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to the company. "It's an incredibly quick turnaround for the complex nature of what the Army has put in place," he said.
Conway said that automation of the SRS process is progressing. "We have been able to leverage existing automation, such as Army Knowledge Online, along with existing off-the-shelf software applications that greatly streamlined the automation process."
The new system could not come at a better time, because the Defense Department played "shell games" with readiness throughout the 1990s by "putting its most ready forces at the tip of the sword and the least ready at the end," the Heritage Foundation's Spencer said.
The shell games led to a perception that the backup forces were prepared, when in reality they were not something that was intentional, and not due to human error, he said.
"To the extent that the current system reduces that, it's a better system and that's a good thing," Spencer said. "Automating the process is a good thing as well, but we must strike a balance with human input and automated input. By automating this, it alleviates some [misinformation] and dictates to Congress and the administration [to keep] actual readiness levels high at all times."
Thomas Housel, a professor of information science at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., said many corporations have had trouble trying to implement balanced score cards, which really constitutes a "family-of-measures approach," and that the Army must be sure that the key areas it has identified relate to the overall goal of readiness. "What does readiness actually mean?" Housel asked. "Are you either more or less [ready]? I think [a] balanced score card doesn't answer that question."
Housel said balanced score cards'
major areas typically include about five subdivisions. They are weighted and measured on a scale of one to five, and then the scores are averaged. He added that the math part is simple the real issue is "logic," and how a change in any one of the different areas affects the main area.
"You don't know the genome, or model, that relates this family together," Housel said, adding that the approach can be complex, which may cause organizations to do it once and never again. "For strategy, a development approach or a communications tool, [balanced score cards] are fine, but when they're actually applied, that's when you run into problems."
AKO users can get more information about SRS and the score cards at akocomm.us.army.mil/srs.
Balanced score card
The Army score card is the central piece of the Strategic Readiness System, which the service is automating to support its ongoing transformation. To ensure that the status of each score card is current and all-inclusive, SRS uses an automated program to reach into more than 5,000 Army databases to draw on up-to-date information. It will not require commanders to fill out another report a goal mandated by Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff.
The Army score card readiness areas include:
* Status of the industrial base for military equipment and supplies.
* The well-being of the service.
* Infrastructure of all Army installations.
* The ability of federal, state and local transportation nodes to support deployments.