DOD works communication issues for transformation

Communications among people, not technology, is the key to the successful transformation of Defense Department's business systems.

'The challenge is that we have multiple systems being developed in parallel,' said Prashant Gaur, director of enterprise integration at the Defense Business Transformation Agency (BTA) at a breakfast event sponsored by Federal Sources. 'How do we move them together?'

The integration of financial and logistics systems is a major goal of DOD business transformation, Gaur said, as is the consolidation and rationalization of redundant financial, logistics and human resources systems.

'The Enterprise Services Group is where it all comes together,' he added. 'Communications is the key.'

The group, a BTA unit on which Gaur serves, works with the armed services and Defense agencies to raise the visibility of BTA priorities.

'When program managers realize they need to do this, they show results quickly,' Gaur said.

Gaur said DOD's technology model is moving toward a service-oriented architecture characterized by loosely coupled and reusable application components.

But, he added, 'having lived through [enterprise resource planning] and business intelligence implementations, the issues and challenges that make these things successful remain the same: governance and data standards. Without them, you can have the best technology but it will not work. You can't have shared services without the systems understanding the same language.'

BTA's assessment of the progress of transformation projects also takes on a very human scale. Through its enterprise risk assessment methodology, the agency sends teams to interview program managers.

'The truth comes out when you look someone in the eye,' Gaur said.

Gaur considers the future of DOD business transformation safe, regardless of potential political changes in Washington.

'We have support among Republicans and Democrats,' he said. 'We enjoy good relationships with the [Government Accountability Office] and the armed services. We are seen as the change agents within DOD.'

Peter Buxbaum is a freelance writer in Bethesda, Md.

About the Author

Peter Buxbaum is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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