Army pioneers multimillion-dollar training system

The Australian Army is in the final throes of implementing a multimillion dollar training system servicing about 30,000 personnel.

The Army Training Information Management System (ArmyTims) is the first of its kind in the world, according to Major Ferro Fabbri, project officer for the Australian Army.

The application is now live with more than 2000 courses and can be accessed by all the Army's 25 main sites nationally, including its most remote locations.

It is understood the project is worth more than $5 million and Fabbri said the Army and Navy are "seriously looking" at a similar system.

However, "scopecreep" affected the project in its early days, Fabbri admitted.

He told Computerworld: "We viewed aspects of the project slightly differently to the developers, and hence there have been a few compromises."

Fabbri indicated additional customising is required in the system stemming from those compromises.

For example, he said "the scheduling tool, used by the US Navy, is currently being tailored" to make it 100 per cent compatible.

Fabbri also identified several positives of the implementation.

"As the business processes have changed, compromise has been aided by Lotus Notes' flexibility and we have been able to alter views, forms and documents for users," he said.

"Previously we used manuals the size of phone books.

"Now it only takes a moment to bring up the browser and instantly ArmyTims tells everybody in the Australian Army what is happening as far as training is concerned.

"We are projecting savings in resources, personnel time and facilities usage," he added.

The ArmyTims application was developed by Aspect Computing, a Defence preferred systems integrator (DPSI) panelist.

In addition to Lotus Notes, Aspect used technologies including an Oracle database, Tours scheduling package and a Holos decision-support system to build the application. He claimed the ArmyTims application will provide standardised training information on a corporate database.

"By automating the manual-intensive, repetitive work, we can also improve productivity by freeing up personnel," Fabbri said.

"The objective is to prepare soldiers for any contingency -- for example East Timor."

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