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Army Strategic Management System: Enhancing Logistics Readiness

The Army’s Strategic Management System will enhance logistics readiness by more closely tying organizational performance and resource management to strategy execution.

Persistent conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and the uncertainty of adequate funding to meet the Army’s increasing needs underscore the importance of effectively and efficiently managing logistics readiness. The Army’s increased operating tempo over the past 6 years has consistently challenged logistics readiness and Army transformation. It has resulted in what has been characterized by General George W. Casey, Jr., the Chief of Staff of the Army, as an “Army out of balance.” This is a direct result of the demands of the operational force exceeding the capabilities of the generating force’s supply base.

Today’s Army and the Army of the future must develop policies and maintain logistics readiness to support multiple threats and theaters, either sequentially or simultaneously, on a larger scale than in the past. The accelerated operating tempo has resulted in battle losses, battle damage, and faster wear and tear on equipment. Equipment must be reset to execute future missions and operations. The Army simply cannot afford to leave a rusting “iron mountain” of discarded equipment on some distant postconflict battlefield. Newly fielded and operational equipment must be supported and accounted for from cradle to grave. Logistics readiness management, while always critical to accomplishing the Army’s mission, has now become paramount.

To readjust supply requirements to meet current operational needs, senior leaders must make critical decisions to support the National Security Strategy and related Army transformational strategies. Army leaders now have a tool to help them with those critical decisions: the Army Strategic Management System (SMS). SMS is an important tool that focuses on organizational priorities and goals to help restore the Army’s balance.

What Is SMS?

As an enterprise performance-management framework (with a supporting web-based system), SMS aggregates key performance indicators from all functional levels of the Army and delivers strategically focused presentations to the Army’s executive leaders and all subordinate command levels. It is accessible to anyone with an Army Knowledge Online (AKO) account and a computer (after SMS access is granted). SMS uses a hierarchical structure based on overarching strategies, strategic initiatives, tasks, and metrics.

SMS provides a crossfunctional snapshot of the Army’s strategic posture in a top-down, data-driven, performance-metric format. This automated tool facilitates an enterprise-level approach to Army decisionmaking and strategy management and serves as an enabler to bring the Army back in balance.

The predecessor to today’s SMS was the Army Strategic Readiness System (SRS), which was deployed in 2002. Although SRS was a useful tool, Army leadership management priorities began to evolve and eventually required a new system. In January 2006, at the direction of the Secretary of the Army, Francis J. Harvey, the Army SRS program was renamed the Army SMS program and its management was transferred to the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army for Business Transformation. The name change from SRS to SMS implied that the program was not limited to readiness but had been broadened to include management and strategy execution plans from The Army Plan, the Army Campaign Plan, and other guidance from senior leaders.

How Does SMS Work?

SMS serves as the foundation for ensuring Army-wide strategy execution, strategy management, organizational alignment (vertical and horizontal), and data synchronization. It consolidates input from various Army information technology systems or Standard Army Management Information Systems (STAMISs) into a single dashboard to compare actual performance to stated targets or standards.

The SMS web-based tool generates a performance score and color indicators for individual activities. For example, green means “good to go,” amber means “a bit off track,” and red means “leaders should be informed that a goal has not been accomplished because either additional resources are required or the goal’s acceptable level of performance is unrealistic.” A gray indicator means that that the performance data have not yet been entered in SMS, and an “infantry blue” color indicates that classified data exist somewhere in the SMS data hierarchy.

SMS is available on AKO using the Non-Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNET) for unclassified data processing and through the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET) on AKO–SIPRNET for classified data processing. SMS program office technicians migrate SMS data from the NIPRNET to the SIPRNET daily. Therefore, to view the complete SMS picture with all data, one must view it in the classified environment.

Integrating SMS With Existing Army Databases

SMS is a web-enabled database management system that is structured to meet the organizational priorities and goals for balancing the Army. SMS can automate the input of all performance data directly from source databases. For example, the Army Materiel Command (AMC) coordinates with one of its separate reporting activities, the Army Logistics Support Activity (LOGSA), to integrate reset performance-management data directly into SMS from LOGSA’s Automated Reset Management Tool.

When source data are automatically or manually updated in SMS, the changes are reflected immediately. Automated data entry is preferred over manual data entry because it reduces the potential for human error and the level of effort required to update the system.

SMS does not replace existing source databases; instead, it links to source data through automated STAMIS data feeds. The Army will have to change its thinking from the current common perception of data being “my data” versus the “Army’s data.” Army guidance is forthcoming to facilitate this cultural change. As an Army, we must learn to adopt new and innovative ways of managing. General Casey characterized this approach with the statement, “Measure the right things to calibrate your achievement.” The speed and ultimate effectiveness of this cultural change remains to be seen, but change is definitely coming so that a common operational picture of functional performance is available to all who have SMS access.

Strategy Maps

A key SMS capability is the use of strategy maps to illustrate an organization’s vision, mission, overarching strategies, and key goals and initiatives. A strategy map is a one-page graphical representation of an organization’s strategic plan. Green-, amber-, red-, gray-, or blue-colored overarching strategies and initiatives on the strategy map indicate reported performance and provide an overview of the organization’s current strategy execution posture. Strategy maps are a primary SMS product and have immediate utility for Army leaders at all levels.

The Army’s intent is to have a series of cascading strategy maps throughout the Army enterprise. Army executive leaders will have a map that reflects strategic priorities. The Army commands (ACOMs), direct reporting units (DRUs), and the staffs and secretariats of the Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA), will also have cascading strategy maps and hierarchy structures. Each will develop strategy maps that reflect their respective strategies, missions, and goals. When fully implemented, SMS will be the primary performance-management and strategy-execution evaluation tool used by the Army’s executive leaders.

The draft AMC strategy map (in support of the Army’s Materiel Enterprise) contains the five lines of operation, or overarching strategies, defined by AMC’s commanding general, General Ann Dunwoody, and senior AMC leaders. The lines of operation focus on establishing the materiel enterprise, reset, strategic infrastructure planning, base closure and realignment execution, and delivery of enabling technologies. The strategy map also depicts 18 supporting initiatives, which are subordinate to their respective lines of operation. The strategy map was tailored to reflect the priorities and strategies of AMC’s commanding general and other senior leaders in support of the Army’s Materiel Enterprise.

The AMC strategy map of today is far different from the original that was developed in 2002. For SMS to be an effective tool, the strategy map must remain flexible. Requirements are currently being analyzed for aligning the AMC strategy map to the Army Strategy Map and to the strategy maps of AMC subordinate commands and separate reporting activities.

Many commands will use their strategy maps as the foundation for periodic strategy review meetings. Leaders and staffs may use these reviews to identify what is going right, what is a little off track, and what is going wrong. Based on the initiative indicators (green, amber, red, gray, or blue), strategy maps provide leaders with a snapshot of performance at HQDA and subordinate organizations. These reviews may identify areas of concern, prompt risk mitigation strategies, and identify candidates for Lean Six Sigma (LSS) projects and key LSS investments that are linked to strategy.

SMS Benefits

SMS will provide an objective, quantifiable, synchronized portrait of Army strategy execution in accordance with The Army Plan, the Army Campaign Plan, and other Army senior-leader directives. Its intent is to enable Army leaders to make informed decisions concerning performance goals rather than basing their decisions on performance-management data that have been vetted or otherwise manipulated, either intentionally or accidentally. All SMS users (senior leaders, commanders, or action officers) have the ability to quickly view goal performance indicators or “drill down” to the performance drivers to see individual task or metric indicators. Pertinent contact information is provided at each node within the system, resulting in greater accountability for strategy execution.

Data visibility and Army-wide format standardization will help to breakdown “stovepipes” and increase situational awareness. Source-data automation greatly reduces the time required for collecting data and developing briefings. The system can archive common briefing formats, such as AMC equipment updates, and populate charts, graphs, and tables that are exportable into Microsoft Office software applications (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). Action officers will have more time to focus on analysis instead of re-creating important, but time-consuming, slides.

SMS directly supports senior leaders’ information needs. For example, each month, the HQDA G–4 briefs the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army on the status of Army pre-positioned stocks (APS). Currently, AMC and the Army Sustainment Command (ASC) manage APS, collect data, build PowerPoint slides, and forward them to HQDA for presentation to the Vice Chief of Staff. SMS can simplify this process through its automated report generation capability and by making these reports accessible on line.

SMS assists Army leaders and action officers in ensuring that the Army is properly positioned to execute the Chief of Staff of the Army’s four imperatives—sustain, prepare, reset, and transform—as defined in The Army Plan. SMS links performance to strategy execution and serves as the unifying framework for implementing Army strategic goals throughout the enterprise. This framework serves as a type of mission-essential task list at the Army strategic level and provides a common operational picture to help leaders and staffs see the Army’s posture in strategy execution.

SMS focuses and aligns the strategies and key strategic initiatives across the Army staffs, secretariats, ACOMs, DRUs, and eventually, Army service component commands. It is designed to provide information on performance, progress, resource availability, and other factors that help senior leaders make decisions, lead change, and ultimately, restore Army balance. SMS captures the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff of the Army’s priorities and strategic initiatives for enterprise-wide strategy execution.

SMS uses the underlying premise that strategic outcomes are derived from a series of carefully linked actionable initiatives and tasks to which resources are dedicated. An effective, attainable, and well-managed strategy is required for any organization to survive. Tasks are established and measured in terms of quantifiable cost, performance, and schedule, and these are the only ways performance is measured in SMS.

Leadership accountability for each outcome is clearly identified and monitored in SMS. SMS facilitates informed discussions about the performance of key priorities and available resources. It also promotes more frequent reviews of the organization’s strategy to ensure that it accommodates a mission change or a new operational environment. As the SMS program reaches Army-wide implementation, SMS will link resource allocation to key initiatives. The SMS program office has coordinated with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller to discuss resource management issues, and additional discussions will occur among senior Army leaders to outline a plan of action.


AMC was one of the first ACOMs to embrace and fully support quantitative assessment of its strategy execution and performance management—initially through SRS and now through SMS. AMC and the SMS program office have continued to maintain a close working relationship.

In the early SRS days, AMC was involved in working groups and user feedback coordination meetings to support SRS enhancements. As early as 2002, AMC conducted SRS quarterly reviews, which assessed logistics readiness and functional performance goals against performance criteria defined in SRS. The assessments were briefed to the AMC command group using data maintained in SRS. To a lesser degree, SRS was also used by AMC subordinate commands and separate reporting activities to support their logistics readiness, functional performance assessments, and strategy execution.

The AMC SRS quarterly reviews were terminated after January 2006 in anticipation of the change to SMS. Today, AMC has replaced the former SRS quarterly reviews with a revised quarterly command review and analysis briefing, using SMS as the principal supporting automated analytical tool.

The SMS program office has consistently recognized AMC as one of the leading ACOM’s in implementing, supporting, and using SMS. Currently, AMC is the only ACOM that has initiated strategy map development in SMS. The SRS program office recognized AMC with the 2005 Army SRS Best Practices Award. This award recognized AMC for most effectively integrating SRS performance management and strategy execution into its functional review processes, performance-metrics evaluation, and strategy-execution analysis methodology.

A classified version of the AMC strategy map is currently under development. This AMC strategy map will be posted on the SIPRNET and will address classified performance-management data in the areas of APS, Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), left-behind equipment, and Army reset.

Once AMC’s SMS deployment is complete, increased horizontal coordination with the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (ASAALT) will take on added importance, specifically in terms of management and coordination with the various program executive officers, equipment program managers, and original equipment manufacturers.

SMS and AMC’s Subordinate Commands

SMS has been successfully implemented in all 20 AMC subordinate commands and separate reporting activities. All of the AMC subordinate command and separate reporting activity strategy maps (with the notable exception of the Army Chemical Materials Agency [CMA] strategy map) are currently maintained in the SMS user workspace environment. This is an area of the SMS database reserved for draft strategy maps that remain under development or revision. These draft strategy maps are viewable in the SMS only by designated Army, AMC, and AMC subordinate command SMS local administrators and SMS users.

During a Deputy Under Secretary of the Army for Business Transformation SMS assistance visit to CMA in February 2008, CMA’s strategy map was characterized as the Army’s best SMS strategy map. The fully developed CMA strategy map was subsequently transferred from the SMS user workspace to the SMS production environment, which is the area of the SMS database reserved for fully developed and functional strategy maps. These strategy maps can be viewed by all Army SMS users. Currently, all AMC and AMC subordinate organization strategy maps are projected to be transferred from the user workspace to the production environment by the end of calendar year 2009.

A Classified Strategy Map

Initially, AMC command group guidance stated that the AMC strategy map would not include classified components. In recent years, AMC has experienced a faster operating tempo, and its increased responsibilities for new equipment fielding to support Department of Defense and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have made it necessary to address the management of classified data.

As AMC’s role in the management of APS and ammunition readiness takes on even more importance at the strategic level, classified data management has become increasingly necessary. The development of a SIPRNET version of the AMC strategy map is on-going. Once completed, the AMC command group will have an automated capability within SMS to address management and strategic planning across the entire spectrum of the AMC mission.

SMS and Army Campaign Plan Execution

The 2008 Army Campaign Plan documented the role of SMS in support of the plan. The Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G–3/5/7, in coordination with the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army for Business Transformation, directed the incorporation of Army Campaign Plan objectives and tasks into SMS and the development of an integrated assessment process to monitor the plan’s execution.

The Chief of Staff’s 4 imperatives to restore balance and the 2009 Army Campaign Plan’s 50 identified campaign and major objectives (which illustrate the top priorities of the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff) may be the basis for the next iteration of the Army Strategy Map. A final decision by the Army’s leaders on the precise construct of the next Army Strategy Map is forthcoming.

SMS Data Synchronization Demonstration

Almost immediately after SMS was deployed Army-wide in September 2007, Army leaders decided to test its data synchronization capabilities. Planning and coordination began in December 2007, and the data synchronization demonstration was conducted on 15 January 2008. For this demonstration, data synchronization meant simply that performance-metric indicators seen in the SMS were the same regardless of the command level from which the SMS user was accessing the system.

Army leaders decided to test SMS data synchronization by reporting APS readiness status. After identifying the appropriate APS source database (the Army War Reserve Deployment System), dummy APS performance metrics and readiness data were entered in the ASC SMS data hierarchy. As the Army’s leaders had hoped, the APS performance metrics and readiness data were simultaneously displayed on the Army, HQDA G–4, AMC, and ASC strategy maps during the demonstration. The successful demonstration of the SMS data synchronization capability was the first of its kind conducted in the Army.

All levels of command have one common operational picture for APS status, and if any questions or issues arise, detailed point of contact information is available through SMS for each performance metric at each level of command. This capability will significantly speed up logistics support coordination and the decisionmaking process. The data synchronization capability is currently being incorporated into the AMC strategy map and SMS data hierarchy to support other critical AMC logistics management functional areas, including reset, left-behind equipment, and LOGCAP.

The Way Ahead for SMS

SMS is capable of supporting both the traditional logistics provisioning process and the expedited, often ad hoc provisioning process that has resulted from the rapid fielding of new equipment and technologies deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Requests for repair parts for newly fielded items that just a few months earlier were in the initial design and engineering stages (and that have not even been issued routine national item identification numbers) are a major challenge to the logistics supply chain. The AMC G–3/5 is pursuing SMS solutions to support such provisioning problems.

In July 2008, the SMS program office transferred from the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army for Business Transformation to the Office of the Chief of Staff, Army-Enterprise Task Force (OCSA–ETF), and it now reports directly to the Chief of Staff of the Army. As a complement to the SMS program, the Army’s LSS program also falls under the OCSA–ETF. The teaming of the SMS and LSS programs under the OCSA–ETF is a logical progression. SMS is designed to evaluate performance, identify potential problems, and gauge strategy execution, while LSS is designed to solve problems and increase efficiency.

In a recent offsite meeting, the OCSA–ETF director, Lieutenant General Robert Durbin, summed it up when he asked, “How do we make a change that creates new processes or changes to existing processes to enable the operational force to run efficiently and effectively?” SMS is being positioned as the platform for a new Army governance structure. The use of SMS throughout the Army enterprise will improve not only logistics readiness but also the campaign and major objectives detailed in The Army Plan and other senior-leader guidance documents.

As the needs of the Army have evolved, so has SMS. SMS development has been successful to date because, rather than simply replacing existing automated information systems, SMS is increasingly becoming a system that integrates the best available information from various Army databases. Effective SMS deployment and use will require some changes to the existing Army management culture, and the OCSA–ETF is planning steps to mitigate the challenges that will come with those changes.

The management of the SMS program continues to evolve to meet the needs and requirements of an Army that is undergoing the most significant internal transformation since the end of World War II. SMS continues to prove its value by enabling Army leaders to make performance-management assessments and strategy-execution evaluations based on the most accurate and complete data available.

Army decisionmaking and execution is shifting to an approach focused on four core enterprises: readiness, human capital, services and infrastructure, and materiel. AMC and ASAALT are closely coordinating and are now viewing research, acquisition, logistics, and technology through an enterprise lens, which offers a holistic view of the process. AMC has designated SMS as the system of record that will be used to support and assess execution of AMC’s mission, vision, strategy, goals, and objectives supporting the materiel enterprise.

David Lewis is a senior staff military operations analyst for VT Aepco and a support contractor for the Deputy Chief of Staff, G–3/5 (Current Operations), and the Army Strategic Management System at the Army Materiel Command. He is a former Army infantry and ordnance officer. He has a bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University, an information systems analyst certificate from Bowie State University, and a master’s degree in management information systems from Bowie State University.

Charles Glover is the chief of Operations, Readiness, Exercises, and Training for the Deputy Chief of Staff, G–3/5 (Current Operations), at the Army Materiel Command. He is a retired Army officer and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Alabama and master’s degrees from the Naval War College and Ball State University.

Rob Frye is an independent consultant and managing principal for Frye Performance Solutions. He supports the Office of the Chief of Staff, Army-Enterprise Task Force, which manages the Army Strategic Management System and Lean Six Sigma programs. He is a former Army field artillery officer and has a bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in public administration from American University.

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