“Often I am asked the value of having multiple people work on a project. The true value, as I see it, is that people work better collaboratively rather than competitively. If you can assemble a team of individuals who have unique talents and all are willing to listen and learn from one another, no one can beat you,” said Marlene Blaszczyk, Founder and Publisher for MotivateUs.com through Motivating Moments LLC.
Blaszczyk’s quote applies to the development and rollout of the next generation of afloat point-of-sale systems, Retail Operations Management (ROM version 3), which is the combined talents of Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) N6, NAVSUP Business Systems Center (BSC), Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) Ships Stores Program and NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Norfolk Fleet Assistance Teams.
To get a good handle on how to update the legacy system ROM II, senior NAVSUP leadership turned to the NAVSUP BSC due to its expertise in modernizing other business systems, injecting connectivity into Information Technology processes, and upgrading the legacy afloat food service software program.
NAVSUP BSC took on the task to modernize ROM from an isolated stand-alone system to a distributed web server environment allowing data to flow freely between workstations afloat as well as replicate data ashore to allow enterprise visibility. Leading the charge was Lt. Cmdr. Eric Coomes, Project Manager, Elliot McConnell, Lead Programing Analyst, and Matt Dyer, Lead Technical and IT subject matter expert (SME).
Software without function has no purpose, so the next enterprise activity to join the team was NEXCOM’s Ships Stores Program. As the Navy’s subject matter experts on ships store policy and procedures and program managers for ROM II, they understood the policies and procedures the new software would have to follow. Over a six-month period, a dedicated team worked closely with BSC to document requirements and reviewed over 70 different functional modules that defined the new ROM 3 software. Leading the requirements team was Steve Mclaughlin, former project manager of ROM II.
Daily interactions between NAVSUP BSC and the Ships Stores Program, coupled with rapid software development, enabled the software programmer to write the program in record time.
For testing, NEXCOM’s Ships Stores Program called upon both in house NEXCOM military SMEs, SHSC(SW/AW) Hilton Newton, former LCPO on USS New York (LPD 21) and SHC(SW/AW) Wendy Davis, former S-3 records keeper on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) as well as representatives from Fleet Type Commanders, schools, Fleet Assist Teams, and Afloat Training Groups both enlisted and officer.
NAVSUP BSC delivered these modules to NEXCOM over four releases. With each release, NEXCOM stakeholders participated in multi-day User Acceptance Test (UAT) sessions to review the work and make necessary adjustments and recommendations which they gave back to NAVSUP BSC for rework. In July 2013, the team completed its tasks and turned over all software to NAVSUP BSC so they could start the arduous journey to obtain certification and authority to operate from the U.S. Navy.
Training is often the most challenging area. The goal is to have personnel receive training in a timely manner while maintaining the old systems over a normal 24 month install period.
Transitioning an old system to a new system is like trying to switch out engines on a jet airliner while in flight with customers pushing to get to their destination; failure is just not an option. To accomplish the training goal, NEXCOM turned to his Fleet liaison department head, Gene Hoffman, who personally managed the Navy Integrated Training Plan planning, development, publication and approval through OPNAV. While Hoffman was working the training certification side, SHCS Newton and SHC Davis were working the curriculum guides for the Center for Service Support. They also were developing the training to be provided to ship’s servicemen prior to and during the installation. Enlisting the aid of the NAVSUP FLC Fleet Assistance Teams, the ROM 3 group found an effective means to provide training to ships around the world in the best possible format: one-on-one and just in time.
Rounding out the Enterprise ROM 3 team was NAVSUP N6 who assumed program management and accomplished the administrative paperwork to ensure the program was funded, certified, and moving forward. Robin Gipe, NAVSUP N6 ROM 3 Program Manager, kept the teams coordinated and her eye on the strategic goals as the teams worked the tactical issues.
In August 2014, USS Mitscher (DDG 57) and USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) were the first fleet ships to receive ROM 3 as part of the NIAPS software suite.
By Charles Vaughan, Vice President, NEXCOM Ships Stores Program