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Monthly Archives: January 2019

Narrowing Focus

Key Insights & Decisions


Over the course of the first three weeks, we have documented a host of different issues experienced by personnel in a variety of functional areas. We have also identified a handful of frequently repeating themes as we delved into each.


  • Many functions have only a bare minimum of standard procedures or methodologies.  This can have advantages. It certainly has drawbacks. We have encountered multiple instances of reported “issues” where the desired feature/fix already exists.  The person reporting the issue was simply unaware of the feature. Lack of training on the tools, knowledge of best practices, and standardization across units is commonplace.
  • Functional activities – dispatching a truck, ordering a part, compiling readiness, etc. – frequently involve multiple different applications.  In almost every case, the applications do not communicate with one another. An initial lack of out-of-the-box interaction is somewhat understandable given these systems are frequently from different vendors. However, these gaps have existed for years, a state that would not be tolerated in private industry.  The fact that it is tolerated in the military branches – we have seen this in other branches as well – is likely symptomatic of our next item.
  • There are no socialized metrics quantifying the cost of most of the reported issues in terms of time lost, opportunities missed, readiness impact, or basic dollars and cents.
  • Many fundamental issues have a reported fix in the works.  However, this is strictly in the form of rumor. While we have heard of numerous issues with solutions “coming”, no one has yet to pull out a document or presentation outlining the solution and implementation plan for any of them. That is not to say the word on the street is incorrect.  Simply, that it is unverified.


In response, we decided to make one narrow issue – lack of communication between TCPT and other systems for key personnel and equipment information – into a case study.  We will quantify the impact, define the solution, determine the timeline for any change already in the works, and assess resultant outcome. Our intention is to not only affect a specific change but also prove a framework for taking a second look at issues that most personnel have simply come to accept as the natural order of the universe.


Beneficiaries Interviews —

Stephan Heal:

  • TFSMS – Maintenance system, readiness reporting
  • GCSS has the capability to report readiness in detail
  • TCPT capability is in GCSS
  • AnglicoTech teaches Marines how to properly use GCSS
  • Now the company who does Marine logistics is on board with GCSS
  • Responded well to Front End readiness system
  • Member of the FAS Team (Functional Area Sustainment)
    • The FAS Team is actually outside contractor AnglicoTech.com
    • The FAS Team for Maintenance & Logistics does teach best practices.  However, that does not translate to standardization across shops.


Adam Beauregard

  • Former Naval Aviator
  • Now at National Defense University
  • Navy is driven by deployment schedule
    • Deploy:  6-9 mos
    • Ready Alert Stage: 3-6 mos
    • Lower readiness: 6 mos
    • Build-up: 12-18 most
    • Repeat Cycle
  • Sierra Hotel Aviation Readiness Program – software used to upfront flight scheduling and track training events toward readiness
    • Each hour of flight time is applied to a specific training objective required for readiness.
    • When it comes to planning the daily flight schedule, the system does recommend training activities, however, there is no real intelligence to it.  E.g. It might suggest a submarine tracking exercise but is not checking that there is a training area actually available to support that activity.
  • Available aircraft and status tracked via whiteboard (exactly like Marine Motor T units are using whiteboards to track trucks)
  • Adam provided a fantastic paper on Managing Military Readiness.


SSgt Brandon Moreland

  • Currently Motor Maintenance Chief of a platoon
  • Direct reports:  QC Chief, Shop Chief, Parts, Tool Room
  • Shop Chief’s mission is to validate equipment is repaired in a timely manner while the QC Chief validates they are repaired correctly.
  • The big pain point for his role is lack of people who know how to use GCSS to assess readiness.  Consequently, he has to go to 2-3 meetings per week to convey readiness information that is available in GCSS.
  • GCSS does not talk to TCPT which means dispatchers are having to hand jam maintenance/truck status from GCSS into TCPT just like they have to hand jam personnel status from MOL to TCPT.  (Need to get this corroborated by dispatch staff.)
  • In his opinion, GCSS does everything they need to get to the point where the technician can have a Toughbook at their station next to a vehicle, order parts like Amazon, enter status updates, etc.  With regard to Motor Maintenance Operations, the gap is that they do not have adequate wireless coverage and Toughbooks w/ wireless capability. Once those are implemented, the necessary training classes are available that lack of GCSS knowledge will not be a hindrance to a fully electronic workflow.  

General Martin Dempsey

  • Need to narrow our report
  • Find an area of readiness that isn’t being analyzed yet.
  • Equipment and Personnel readiness are heavily examined

Sgt Christopher List

  • QR Codes
    • Every piece of equipment has we code embedded with a bunch of info
    • There are two main inventories CLM (Major Machinery) and TS3 (smaller components associated with major machinery). Both happen every quarter, every RO change, every Battalion command change, other random times.
    • It is currently done on paper, serial number and TAM written down for everything. Kept in books
    • He is working on making it upload to a spreadsheet via QR scanner
  • TCPT
    • People spend “a lot” of time updating information manually
    • Confirmed ideas regarding how the systems are connected (MCTMS has certifications needed in TCPT, MOL has personal info needed in both TCPT and MCTMS, GCSS deadline info needed in TCPT)
    • Spend 15-20 minutes per new member of the motor pool. Current status not usually updated in TCPT leads to issue with miss assignments.
    • Some motor pools only have 15 guys so it’s not a big deal but some have a lot more
    • The combined effort for updating all these things is time-consuming
  • TCLM
    • Readiness dashboard for drilling into equipment could be useful for a foundation for the next project
    • Input from DRRS
    • No personal info
  • Future Readiness
    • Thought idea of “recipe” app would be great

Capt. Connor Bender

  • Verification of List’s count on TCPT
  • Having accurate information regarding information on personnel would be valuable in terms
  • Structure
    • Truck Master (MSgt) – Care of vehicles
    • Ops Cheif (MSgt) – Oversee all operational requirements for the company, supervises the Truck Master, OVE and QC.
    • QC (SSgt) – Determines what is and isn’t road worthy
    • Platoon Commander (2nd Lt, Lt) – Answer to exec officer. Oversee troops. Work with Ops Chief and Truck Master. Communicating with Company Commander.
    • Dispatch (Sgt) – Report to Truck Master and Ops Chief.
    • Platoon Sergeant (MGySgt) – Commanding Marines. Inward Facing
  • TCPT –
    • Dispatch doesn’t assign people.
    • Dispatch says run needs to go out. Goes to MSgt and Exec to figure out how to make it happens
  • Cost Analysis
    • Will set us up with Finance Chief
  • TCPT sending report based on current info to Platoon Commanders
  • Master Log, hand jam everything down, type everything in


Sgt Cody

  • In QC role on the maintenance side
  • The issue involving an inaccurate transfer of information from maintenance to GCSS
  • Paper gets smudged, parts order in wrong quantities or variety, hand jamming issues
  • Would love a way to be able to order from GCSS on the spot

SSgt Amirado

  • QC on the operations side
  • Pain Points
    • Not using all possible opportunities for training exercises
    • TCPT not being updated properly/in time
  • Determines whether trucks are roadworthy or not.
    • Information from GCSS may not be in TCPT so when he’s looking at trucks that are fine in TCPT but are deadlined in GCSS

Week 3 – Site Visit Leads to Pivot

Beneficiaries Interviews —

GySgt Borbor:

  • Training personnel goes onto MCTIMs to find out who is delinquent on their personal training.
  • Readiness is the Commander’s responsibility but delegated to him
  • Battalion Command asks Company command why Marines aren’t ready, Company command asks Platoon command, Platoon Command asks him.
  • The main problem is not giving Marines enough time to train, procrastination
  • Checks through the list of delinquent Marines for exemptions
  • Pains –
    • A glitch in the system allows Marines who should pass, not pass


CWO2 Ploughoff:

  • DRRS – Defense Readiness Reporting Systems
    • Mandated by Congress
    • Goes to Secretary of Defense
    • When you hit submit, it goes directly to the SecDef. This circumvents higher ranks to avoid tampering.
  • DRRS is frequently used by people to forecast readiness when it actual purpose is to portray past readiness level.
  • RG4 – These are the people who handle equipment reporting. (CWO2 Ploughoff – will send Conor a specific contact.)
  • How he compiles DRRS for the MLG
    • He gets a briefing from PPT decks compiled by the subgroups
    • He then briefs the General
    • He uses the PPT he receives to complete the DRRS that he submits.
  • DRRS is not his main job
    • He has to do this on a monthly basis
    • Currently spends one week/mo. on DRRS
    • It took longer when he first started b/c he did not have a sense of the historical readiness state.  Now it only takes a week to understand what has moved over the past month.
    • Typically a person doing DRRS for a given entity is in the position for about a year.


Sgt Brett:

  • Showed us the GCSS order form and report
  • Some of the current orders for the motor pool he showed us were over 400 days old when after 100 they are supposed to be scrapped.
  • They found a report that had 5 things listed, but the only maintenance report on the request said nothing was wrong.
  • Manually reads each line of the report into an excel doc to be read by maintainers in determining applying maintenance.


Sgt Steven:

  • Showed us MCTIMs, MOL, Marine Net
  • MOL contains all the information about a Marine, including if they are on leave and why
  • MCTIMs takes that information to the level just below the person using it, and compiles all the Marine information, with no differentiation in position.


Capt Bender:

  • Presented us with the idea of readiness not taking data from the correct spots
  • In MCTIMs there are a variety of things he needs to check, but for readiness, there is a simple checklist of if they have completed a given exercise in a certain amount of time
  • Didn’t even know that TCPT would be helpful, showed a bit of the disconnect with our problem.
  • Working on a project to track gas usage, could potentially track the production of the maintenance requests for us and examine it for problems.


MSgt Lemus:

  • Marine’s who are “available” may not actually be available, they may be office jobs, etc.
  • Some of the reported maintenance requests are marked incorrectly (03, Short Staff)
  • Wants us to look into the idea that some of the readiness reporting could be automated

SSgt Gaugh:

  • Head of a motor pool platoon
  • Reports to the Motor Head with readiness report
  • Doesn’t use GCSS or MCTIMS, decides readiness based on an old system


Cpl Koss:

  • Handles the Onboard Vehicle Equipment
  • Uses GCSS to input information about current states of motor pool equipment.
  • Has to manually read information from one area of GCSS to a motor pool spreadsheet


Sgt Blomhoff:

  • Quality Control Clerk
  • Determines the status of trucks with an excel report
  • Reads off GCSS reports to determine the status of trucks,


GySgt Miller:

  • GCSS Clerk at 2nd Maintenance Batallion
  • GCSS is already usable on the maintenance floor, just doesn’t have the capacity to do so with current equipment (WIFI and Computers)
  • Anyone can input into GCSS, but it takes a bit of practice. So a mobile solution would be usable by anyone assuming they did quick training.


Sgt Thomas:

  • TCPT report manager
  • Manually inputs data from MOL to TCPT
  • TCPT is used as a tool that takes in requests for transfer of personnel and equipment between battalions


SSgt Moreland:

  • Works with SSgt Macekjo in the Motor Pool
  • Realizes issues with GCSS and new employees, but for the most part, sees the GCSS issues going away as it becomes more integrated
  • Would like the ability to order parts at the truck side. Knows this is possible, just not enough resources.
  • Recognizes the disconnect between operations and maintenance (i.e. GCSS vs. TCPT) not sure, but believes there could be a significant benefit to a connected system.


Key Insights —

  • Our previous MVP was tested against multiple potential beneficiaries, all with the same outcomes.
    • They would love the ability to order parts on the spot, not have to write up what they need, hand off the paper and then plug it into GCSS
    • HOWEVER. GCSS Marine Corps already is capable of this on the Marine’s Toughbooks, they just don’t have the number of computers or WIFI capabilities yet. All of this is on the way, meaning any improvements we make will either be replaced or compete with an existing system, not adding any significant value.


  • They have five different systems that we know of for keeping track of some form of readiness. These systems are all stand alone, which is fine from a data perspective but means they are just using these systems for bookkeeping and nothing more.


  • Readiness is currently reported at the platoon level and this number that they come up with, independently, is passed up to the company level and compiled by another SSgt and then passed up to the MLG level and compiled by a staff NCO. But that number that comes up from the platoon is one: super subjective and nonuniform, 80% readiness in one platoon may not be the same as 80% in another. And two: is very difficult for the CG or anyone else to look further into because they have to go into the platoon level and look through a spreadsheet that keeps this information.


  • That spreadsheet is really two spreadsheets, one called an alpha report, it is made from an SSgt going into MCTIMS and figuring out what people in his platoon are available and how much training they’ve received. He also generates a GCSS report which says what vehicles are down and makes edits to the existing spreadsheet contains all the existing equipment and marks stuff down that is out of commission.


  • All this readiness data that need to compile these numbers and that the CG wants are available via various systems, (equipment-GCSS, personnel – MCTIMS, availability-TCPT) but computers can do a lot more than just bookkeeping. This data is all out there, being read manually into spreadsheets, sporadically compiled, and then put back into a computer for presentation. We just need to be able to automate one little aspect of the readiness reporting first, then another and eventually all of it.

Key Decisions —

  • We are considering a pivot as our Value Proposition failed and we have more potential to be extremely helpful to the Marines in both saving the time of manually inputting millions of rows on excel sheets a year, as well as the ability to accurately and uniformly report readiness and capabilities.
  • We will need to dive deeper into this issue by talking to some of the platoon leaders who are responsible for reporting their readiness to determine how they currently formulate these numbers.
  • We will need to speak to some of the TCPT clerks as well as the GCSS clerks to understand how we can make them talk to each other.
  • We will need to speak to as many different IT professionals to determine our initial limits on what data they will give us access to.
  • The idea is to automate this at the platoon level, and if successful as well as helpful, begin to automate many of them and eventually all.

Week 2

Beneficiary Discovery —

GySgt Seth

  • Many motor pools do not have a GCSS clerk.  The Corporals (mechanics) usually need to enter orders themselves.  This is a frequent bottleneck and painful due to lack of training.
  • When he was Chief, he would have his staff report two hours early to run the days reports.
  • Value of a solution that ensured reports were ready each day, “That would save hours if not days of time in any given week.
  • Value of a solution for capturing diagnostics and reducing GCSS entry, “That would be absolutely amazing!”

SSgt Theodore

  • Part orders are entered and reports run in the Motor Pool by the GCSS clerk. The clerk is a specialist position expert is GCSS.
  • Corporals (mechanics) cannot be trusted to manipulate GCSS due to lack of training.
  • Getting maintenance reports out of GCSS is frequently a bottleneck.

Cpl Brett

  • When making requests, they need to request approval from Quality Control (Sgt.)
  • He currently has to fill out forms by hand and look up appropriate parts separately
  • Says using a Toughbook to input data would be great but

Cpl Devin

  • Fills out MOL data.
  • MOL is the system for keeping track of each Marines personal data
  • MCTIMs and MOL contain duplicate data

SSgt Potter

  • Getting maintenance reports out of GCSS is never a problem because you can schedule GCSS to run them at a pre-set time and drop them in a folder your specify.

    Each Motor Pool is run largely according to the methodology set by the Chief there is not a standard operating procedure.


    The nature of the staffing – GCSS clerk or no – and procedures varies greatly across different units.

Capt Bender

  • Marine Online is the online training delivery system.  Smoking cessation, sexual harassment, specialty-related courses

    Courses are assigned based on specialty and rank.  Some are required, some are done voluntarily as they count towards

  • Marine Net is effectively the personnel jacket for each marine.  Includes personal info; past awards/demerits, fitness results, etc.
  • MCTIMS aggregates training from Marine Online as well a roster from in-person classes.

Mr. Nevis

  • Experience in both Marines and Air Force
  • Air Force uses GCSS also, reports readiness on aircraft
  • Could potentially benefit from this as well

Cpl Steven

  • Tracks personnel readiness through MCTIMs
  • Generates Alpha Reports (Excel Sheet) for readiness
  • Presents Alpha Reports to Company Commander)

Cpl Jacob

  • Tracks equipment through GCSS, all information necessary is there
  • Tracks training through Marine Net, assigning training to those who need it
  • Has no real problems with GCSS

MSgt Lemus

  • Solution to GCSS reporting is already automated, people just must not know or it must not work
  • Each company has its own method of tracking readiness (Spreadsheets)
  • When asked if a Web App connecting directly to GCSS and MCTIMs that has readiness reports and drillable data would be helpful, he loved it

Capt Bender

  • Introduced us to the idea of fixing readiness reporting at the Motor Pool level
  • Said being able to improve the flow of communicating maintenance needs and potentially automating GCSS input would improve readiness
  • Wants us to get into a Motor Pool to really see the flow of maintenance request processing

Capt Davis

  • Head of Future Ops (>90 days out)

    Units do not report “readiness” to him. They report they are “ready to support”.  (Could not elaborate on when “readiness” is used as opposed to “ready to support”


    Does not deal with DRRS and was not prepared to speak to how equipment readiness layers onto personnel readiness.  His officemate can help us there.


Key Insights —

  1. Readiness reporting is extremely decentralized, which is fine at lower levels, but when high command wants to assign resources he has trouble figuring it out.
  2. Attacking reporting issue will be challenging as it requires Marine wide acceptance and involves many factors.
  3. Motor Pool uses paper for reporting issues, certainly potential for improvement.
  4. Maintenance reporting and part replacement is an important and time-consuming process, automating even part could be very valuable to Motor Pool command, Corporals reporting maintenance, and people inputting GCSS order requests

Key Decisions —

  1. We are moving away from the reporting and toward streamlining Motor Pool flow



Week 1

  1. MGySgt Amber Hecht (amber.hecht@usmc.mil)
    • High Level Maintenance
    • Provided context on issue in general
    • Discussed the speed and flexibility of GCSS
  2. SSgt Cynthia Crady (cynthia.crady@usmc.mil)
    • Maintenance Side
    • Closer to operations, diagnosing issues with equipment
    • Slow/unreliable data was her largest blocker
  3. Capt Conor Bender (conor.bender@usmc.mil)
    • Problem Sponsor
    • Raised issues with maintenance inputting issues
    • Intro to the workflow of the system
  4. MSgt Carlos Lemus (carlos.lemus@usmc.mil)
    • Problem Sponsor
    • Insight into the use cases of GCSS
    • Introduced problem of stale data
  5. GySgt Seth Forbes (seth.forbes@usmc.mil)
    • Maintenance
    • Runs into issues with drilling into data
    • Introduced us to OTS
  6. 1stLt Monica Mendoza  (monica.mendoza@usmc.mil)
    • Supply side
    • Runs into issues generating reports
    • Uses GCSS as a tool for determining purchases
  7. CWO3 Ryan Stewart (ryan.d.stewart@usmc.mil)
    • Supply side
    • Also addressed issues with drilling down
    • Connection issues/Speed
  8. Maj Christopher Dettle (christopher.dettle@usmc.mil)
    • Supply side
    • High Level view of issue
    • Good insight into why this is an important issue
    • Not great for details
  • From our preliminary discussions, it seems there are a variety of issues involved in the supply chain of material readiness. Our initial hypothesis was proved correct with a major caveat. These readiness reports are accessible to the CG, however the effectiveness and reliability of  these reports varies widely due to unreliable access to the main system, stale data and complex data management.  The reporting of material readiness is both deep and broad, involving many levels as well as many components at each level. Our initial insight is that there could be a better way to connect those reporting errors at the operation and maintenance level to the Command General who is allocating resources to improve readiness.
  • We need to expand our interviews to people with more technical insight on GCSS to get a better understanding of the functionality and data types being passed in.
  • Our initial MVP is based the idea that the structure of GCSS doesn’t fully fill the need of a large volume of users and quick access to request and update data.