“Many of our standard administrative processes are stuck in the analog industrial era, when paper was the key vehicle for processing information. As a consequence, Marines spend far too much time on administrative actions and processing paperwork –time better spent leading others and preparing for combat.”- General David A. Berger 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps
“Hurry up and wait!” – Every Marine since Captain Samuel Nicholas
At the heart of these two quotes is the struggle between efficiency and accountability. All too often, one comes at the expense of the other. We can do things quicker, but we may give up accuracy or accountability. Or we can be more accurate or accountable, but that often takes more time.
This antagonism between efficiency and accountability is very pronounced in organizational processes associated with the management of assets that are issued from and returned to a secure, restricted access facility, such as an armory. Every Marine that has ever stood in line at 0400 for several hours waiting to draw their weapon, and then repeated the wait to turn in their weapon understands this antagonism. Every commander that has had to sacrifice training time to meet these demands doubly understands.
To solve the tyranny of time and the antagonism of accountability, Troika Solutions provides the Asset Information Management Solution (AIMS). AIMS is an issue and inventory solution that digitizes the accountability and inventory of assets that are maintained and accounted for within restricted or limited access facilities. This includes accountability of access and permissions as well as the full array of custody requirements.
Automated Armory (AIMS-AA) is an AIMS module for Marines working in an armory and Marines that are accountable for armory assets. AIMS-AA provides a highly modernized digitization tool specific to the accountability, security and audit requirements of armory operations, processes, and standards. AIMS-AA greatly enhances accountability and visibility for the organization’s assets that have the highest and most challenging accountability and visibility standards and requirements. The results of our customer performance management surveys bear out our ability to reconcile the antagonism between efficiency, accountability, and security.
PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT SURVEYS In the movie “A Few Good Men”, Lieutenant Kaffee proclaims “It doesn’t matter what I believe, it only matters what I can prove.” In 2021, Troika set out to prove AIMS-AA’s ability to improve efficiency and accountability of armory asset management. We began conducting a series of periodic surveys with customers to collect and analyze data to measure efficiency, accountability, and security performance provided by AIMS-AA. Troika conducts an initial data collection survey immediately following installation, a second survey 90 days later, and then annually. Since July 2021 Troika has conducted:
6 First Impression Surveys
10 Initial Post Install Surveys
8 Annual Post Install Surveys
Survey Components There are three primary components to the survey: functional performance; efficiency metrics; and accountability and security benefits. Our analyses take both a vertical perspective and a horizontal perspective. The vertical analysis focuses on responses and results from individual organizations. The horizontal perspective compares responses and results across multiple organizations at the same point in their use (e.g., at the 90-day mark or the annual mark). For both perspectives we identify trends from one survey event to the next (90-day to the annual).
The following figures depict examples of analysis output. All three examples are from a horizontal analysis based on the Initial Post Install Survey conducted after 90 days of use from eight different organizations.
Survey respondents are queried on their use, training effectiveness, and degree of improvements related to 21 functions that AIMS-AA provides (i.e., Entry Log, Sight Count, Assign an Asset, Recover an Asset, Check Out/In an Asset, etc). Figure 1 shows the aggregation results for the question “How frequently do you perform the function” using AIMS-AA for the listed function.
Figure 1: Functional Performance
We use a similar approach to measure training effectiveness and functional improvements. Results consistently show that the higher the scores are for frequency of use, the higher they are for functional improvements within individual organizations.
From these aggregated responses, the following results are noted:
How frequently do you perform the listed functions in AIMS-AA?
• On average across the eight surveyed organizations, armory personnel report using 81% of the AIMS-AA functions (17 of 21 of the listed functions), either daily or occasionally for the 90-day Initial Post Install Survey.
How much has functionality improved?
• On average across the eight surveyed organizations, armory personnel report that there is significant improvement with 57% of the listed functions (12 of 21 functions) and significant or slight improvement with 76% of the listed functions (16 of 21 functions).
For Efficiency Metrics, the respondents are asked to state the time it takes for perform seven common tasks before AIMS-AA was installed and the time it takes after 90 days of using AIMS-AA.
The aggregated results of those responses are provided in Figure 2 below.
Figure 2: Efficiency Metrics Results
Using the first task as an example (Time it takes to check out assets to 25 users for a common training event) Figure 2 shows that an average time savings of 40% is reported by eight organizations for that task, with the highest actual savings experienced by at least one organization at 70%.
This same construct is followed for each of the other six tasks. The overall composite time savings experienced by the eight organizations across the seven tasks from using AIMS-AA is 37%.
Accountability and Security Benefits
Survey respondents are asked to grade changes related to nine accountability and security benefits since using AIMS-AA (Significant Improvement, Little or No Improvement, or Degraded Performance). The aggregated results of those responses are provided in Figure 3 below.
Figure 3: Accountability and Security Benefits Results
Using the first action listed above as an example (Ability to track and locate an unaccounted asset…), Figure 3 shows that six of eight surveyed organization, 75%, report significant improved performance for that action. This same construct is followed for each of the other eight actions. The overall composite performance improvement experienced by the eight organizations across the nine actions from using AIMS-AA is 50%. (There were no instances of degraded performance reported.)
The TBS Example
The largest installation of AIMS-AA was completed recently for the armory that supports The Basic School (TBS), which is the second largest armory in the Marine Corps. The Basic School armory supports training for new second lieutenants attending the Basic Officer Course (BOC), newly designated infantry officers attending the Infantry Officer Course (IOC) as well as newly minted Warrant Officers attending the Warrant Officer Basic Course (WBOC).
The pace of training for these courses is extremely challenging and often requires 24 hour a day armory operations. The ability of the armory to assign, issue, recover, and account for hundreds of serialized assets at a pace that supports training is greatly enhanced using AIMS-AA. A recent initial “bulk issue” to a BOC class provides a great example. In less than four hours, over 1,400 serialized weapons assets were issued to a new BOC class. This action included verifying individuals with each serialized asset, confirming accounting of all ancillary items, and digitally proceeding through all directed check-out steps to ensure accountability.
Previous issue events without AIMS-AA were described as a “dawn to dusk” events. With AIMS-AA, company staff reported that they are now able to conduct three separate training events in the time they previously had to dedicate to the asset issue by itself.
In a similar vein, a bulk check-in by platoons of 48 students, each checking in four serialized assets (1152 total assets) was accomplished efficiently and accurately in 40 minutes.
AIMS-AA enables Marines to spend less time on administrative actions and processing paperwork and more time spent leading others and preparing for combat. It does this without making trade-offs between efficiency, accountability, and security.
In fact, AIMS-AA enhances these three critical criteria as they relate to armory asset management, individually and collectively. A summary of AIMS-AA performance management surveys shows:
• Wide, comprehensive use of AIMS functions across a variety of different organizations (81% functional use). Surveys show a discernable link between use and functional improvements (76% functional improvement).
• Average time efficiency improvements of 37% across seven metrics for eight organizations after 90 days of use. Some organizations reporting improvements of 60-90% in individual metrics.
• Average improvements in accountability and security benefits at 50% across nine metrics for eight organizations after 90 days of use.
By measuring efficiency, accountability, and security performance based on AIMS-AA functionality, we provide an effective, mission-oriented solution for armory operations. AIMS has the unique advantage of improving accuracy and accountability while giving back time – time that can be better spent leading others and preparing for combat. We don’t simply believe this. We can prove it.