QA with Raymond Casher
“This was the first time the USTRANSCOM team moved really fast to deliver an agreement and a plan to meet the requirements to rapidly prototype a TMS capability.” - Raymond Casher
Program Manager Reflects on Progress of DoD TMS Prototype
Raymond Casher is a senior technical program manager at Georgia Tech Research Institute. Previously, he was the acquisition program manager for the USTRANSCOM Transportation Management System (TMS) prototype project and the driving force behind this high-priority U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) project.
Casher recently sat down with SAP and looked back on his experiences with Telesto. He also explained why a commercial transportation management solution makes operational sense for 2020 and beyond.
Q: Why is the DoD testing a TMS prototype?
A: When you look at how the DoD moves stuff today, it’s a very labor-intensive process, regardless of the line of business or mode. A TMS will introduce a single automation system that will reduce many laborious tasks and legacy systems. The goal of a TMS is to keep the product moving in the transportation phase, as transportation assets that don’t move won’t provide value.
Q: The prototype is utilizing the SAP Transportation Management application, a commercially available system. How can SAP Transportation Management meet the unique needs of USTRANSCOM?
A: In my opinion, the SAP solution can be used to move close to 90% of what the DoD moves. In reality, USTRANSCOM relies on commercial industry and assets to move an overwhelming majority of its material and manpower. There are clear financial and operational advantages to be gained by using a commercial transportation solution for commercial-type movements.
Q: What about the other 10% of products that USTRANSCOM needs to move?
A: During one TMS prototype blueprinting session, there was a great deal of discussion regarding the transportation of arms, ammunition, and explosives and hazardous materials. The processes in the commercial industry are much less restrictive than in the DoD. But when you peel the onion back, there are zero differences in the statutory and regulatory requirements. The DoD imposes policies and procedures that make it much more difficult and expensive to move items and personnel.
In my opinion, USTRANSCOM should re-examine policies (such as Joint Travel Regulations) and make prudent business decisions on operational adjustments to remove barriers and allow more material to use a commercial out-of-the-box TMS (like SAP) and commercial carriers. This would lead to operational benefits and could result in lower costs in peacetime.
Q: Is there a financial incentive to modernize USTRANCOM systems?
A: I’m a taxpayer, and I know that USTRANSCOM spends several hundred million dollars a year on the development, maintenance, and security of legacy stovepipe information systems. There is great potential to collapse some of those programs and have them be subsumed by TMS.
Q: What will happen to the people who currently manage, operate, and sustain legacy systems?
A: The reality is that a thoughtful transition will take years, and the great Americans at USTRANSCOM will still have jobs – just different jobs (in transportation exception management, for example). In addition, the cybersecurity footprint will be greatly reduced for command, as there will be significantly less systems to defend.
Q. What was your experience like working with the Telesto team?
A: When we launched this project, we had great deal of work to do. Once we completed the procurement activities, we sat down with the Telesto team and collectively worked on the performance of work statement (PWS). The PWS identified four key capability drops that USTRANSCOM desired throughout the length of the agreement.
The teamwork and the cooperation between the government team and the Telesto team was supernatural. Everybody on all sides labored in harmony; we were quickly able to iron out and write a PWS in just one week after the contract award. This was the first time the USTRANSCOM team moved really fast to deliver an agreement and a plan to meet the requirements to rapidly prototype a TMS capability.
Throughout my tenure executing the prototype, I was pleased by the tempo and ability of USTRANSCOM and Telesto to solve problems and collaboratively get to “yes” within the confines of cost, schedule, and technical performance. It was a pleasurable experience – and one of my most memorable.