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Maritime Logistics Community News : Autumn 2009
naVY SuPPLY nEWSLEttER autumn 2009 21 The second key component of the CAF is the Stock-take Reporting System or SRS, which relies on an electronic interface from reporting units into SDSS. These results are reported quarterly to NHQ, who aggregate Navy results and report to the Defence Audit Committee (DAC). The SRS is an ADO-wide, on-line tool, however only an off-line tool is currently available to MFUs, (due to LAN and connectivity restrictions) and does not provide the necessary accuracy or timeliness of return by MFUs. To work around this, Fleet units must report stock-take results quarterly through an offline spreadsheet, which is manually input to the online system to comply with ANAO /Logistic Assurance Branch requirements. Also, since the roll-out of the off-line reporting tool, there has been considerable drift and format mismatch between the off-line and on-line SRS, mainly due to on-line upgrades. These mismatches, which result in inaccurate or incomplete reporting, create slippage in stock-taking requirements. In other words, we fall further behind in completed stocktakes, creating distortions and skewing of results for subsequent periods. Further, the locked nature of the two year Defence stock-take cycle is unforgiving, with data unable to be entered post cut-off; therefore SRS spreadsheets that have been modified or miss the upload due date is an ‘own goal’. An important check to prevent SRS mismatch is for reporting units to compare and align ships’ spread-sheets with those provided by FHQ. Indeed, units submitting their SRS reports in accordance with FHQ SRS spread-sheets show a good level of alignment and accuracy across all controls, however the level of completed stock-takes vs stock-takes scheduled show great variability and slippage. FLS is currently funding a SRS software fix to enhance the functionality of the on-line SRS, which will improve the ability of ships to meet reporting deadlines; a priority activity for Fleet and a business process we cannot afford to ignore. What’s the Problem? Firstly, Defence utilises the data and value of assets recorded in the SDSS Supply Customer Accounts (SCA) as the statutory financial records. MFUs, as Self Accounting Units, use SLIMS-S/2007 as the Navy IMS to manage, muster and report assets onboard ships. Secondly, both SLIMS and SDSS work in a similar way, however each operate on different hierarchies and exist as two discrete, closed loop systems. SLIMS requires a communication interface to enable data to flow to and from SDSS. The interface is called the Defence Logistic Data Interchange Point (DLDIP), and is managed by the DMO on Navy’s behalf. In order for Fleet Units to communicate inventory data, such as demands, returns, distribution, and so on, an e-mail is regularly sent from ships and uploaded into SDSS through the DLDIP. This should create a ‘mirror’ in SDSS of each SLIMS account, and for the purpose of ‘simple’ transactions, such as stores demands, has been working for a decade. Also, as alluded to, due to the varying degrees of logistics supportability in Non Self- Accounting Units, for example, the CFE/GFE split in the Hydrographic Survey, Armidale Class Patrol Boat, Collins Class Submarines and Mine Hunter Class fleet, and the contractual differences between each class of ship, there is little consistency in the use of the IMS and the manning structures within these units. Additionally, non SAUs are supported by Fleet Logistic Support Elements (FLSEs) within tender establishments, with SDSS being the resident tool used to manage inventories. Last of all, is the challenge to maintain, NAVSUPMAN 2, in light of considerable momentum and changes in Supply Chain Management (SCM) and ADO logistics. Additionally, SLIMS has not been required to undergo rigorous compliance & regulatory benchmarking to ANAO standards. SdSS/SLimS alignment Another compliance process relates to the relationship between SLIMS and SDSS. This relationship is important, for it provides the DAC the visibility and reporting tools for all ADO assets and financial statements. SDSS records must accurately reflect or mirror the SLIMS account, but again, this does not always work in our favour. It is also important the SLIMS/SDSS records remain aligned at all times which provides the confidence the SDSS record is as accurate as possible. The difference between these accounts has been termed ‘misalignment’. There are, however transactional disconnects between the two systems which creates a range of alignment problems for SLIMS accounts. Some causal factors are generic in nature, others, we are learning, can be more complex. Notwithstanding, in June 2008, the misalignment between SLIMS accounts and SDSS created a record net stock discrepancy of $120m. However, it has been highlighted that aligning the accounts may have not remediated the cause of all misalignments, such as MAD/CDI accounts, loitering Permanent Repairs Accountable and Paying Off Availability accounts and other SLIMS/SDSS transactional issues. Therefore, misalignment of the two systems is likely to persist and it is inevitable, for the time being, that FHQ CAF will be drawn further into the management of MFU SCAs. next Steps Given the SDSS SCA is the accountable record from which external reports are based, it is critical that positive management of the MFU SCAs becomes a priority for the way we do business at sea. Although, despite the efforts of the many agencies involved, measureable progress and success has been transient. To move forward, the next steps rely on the tenets of compliance and self assessments and in particular accurate and timely SRS returns. Greater accountability and compliance in relation to the accuracy and timeliness of MFU SRS are key to achieving good results against asset management performance indicators in order to prevent decay in records accuracy. What gets measured gets done! Moreover, it is acknowledged individual MFUs have capacity constraints to manage SCAs; their focus needs to be managing the operational inventory through the proper use of the onboard SLIMS. Further, investigations into the causes and effects of misalignment issues supported the recommendation that ongoing management of these accounts is required to limit the extent of misalignment between SDSS and SLIMS into the future. To meet this requirement, a MFU Logistic Support Agency-type position is under development to manage and maintain the alignment relationship between SLIMS and SDSS. In conclusion, one major challenge to standardisation is lack of a common business language or a communication standard that allows the transfer of information. Maintaining separate IMS through SDSS and SLIMS adds compliantly to managing information, decision making and ultimately, knowledge. Given the technological challenges, complexities and resources required to integrate these critical capability systems, greater cross functional information sharing aimed at levering off the investment in this war-fighting capability is necessary. Accordingly, the FHQ CAF team is required to pro-actively manage the day-to-day tactical progress of Fleet SAT and SRS returns in order to achieve the strategic intent. Only when outcomes translate to improved operational performance, resource management through the introduction of CAF in June 2006 and alignment of functional areas with this intent being met.