The initiation of the SASPF project (Standard Application Software Product Family) has marked a paradigmatic shift in IT support in the field of administrative and logistic tasks away from individual, task-specific applications and towards an economically oriented, uniform IT-solution for all areas of the Bundeswehr. The standardisation, harmonisation and optimisation of processes, procedures, sequences and the organisation in the remit of the Federal Ministry of Defence (BMVg) is the established objective of this major project.
The SASPF programme strategy and its update as well as the architectural requirements and projects contained in them have not only increased the speed at which technical innovations are implemented by Directorate G in BAAINBw and accelerated them by agile methods; they have also introduced a new phase of digitisation in the Bundeswehr.
It is crucial to employ a foresighted strategy to develop complex processes, coherent projects and IT systems in the Bundeswehr, use the opportunities for standardisation and simplification and prepare the existing SASPF systems landscape for the future and ever shorter innovation cycles.
As a consequence the Bundeswehr intends to change its SAP system landscape to S/4HANA. The product change contributes significantly to the armed forces’ digitisation and thus to their long-term ability to act.
Is the current IT system supporting the Bundeswehr in an ideal way? Are the processes lean, can the solutions be handled intuitively in missions abroad, are mobile applications up to date and is data available in real time? These are some of the challenges that the Bundeswehr intends to find solutions for with SASPF X.0. The concept SASPF X.0 stands for the introduction of S/4HANA in the Bundeswehr. It is the successor of the current core product SAP Business Suite on which the Bundeswehr’s logistic-administrative information system is largely based.
Changeover to S/4HANA
S/4HANA grants the Bundeswehr access to new functions and processes which the current SASPF system only offers in a very limited way. This includes the mobile and networked use of data as well as analysis and simulation options based on real-time information. SASPF X.0 will help create a sustainable and future-oriented digital platform to create the basis for dealing with topics such as big data, the Internet of things, augmented reality, predictive maintenance and machine learning. As a result the Bundeswehr will be able to act faster, more precisely and more reliably than in the past. The technology change therefore contributes significantly to the armed forces’ ability to act at the international level. The declared aim is to replace large parts of the Bundeswehr SAP system landscape with S/4HANA before the end of 2025.
The new platform will also lead to a simultaneous and significant increase in the BMVg’s control and reaction capabilities. The increasing dynamics in the fields of foreign and security policy and international Alliance commitments require an improvement of these abilities and, at the same time, a higher operational readiness of the Bundeswehr.
IT Support for the Operational Readiness Situation
For the assessment of the operational readiness situation a holistic view of all relevant situational information is essential. With regard to the supply of this situational picture and other digital situational pictures such as logistic information containing data supplied by external service providers and in order to facilitate single-medium evaluations of the operational readiness situation, the project “IT-support for the operational readiness situation (IT-U-EBL)” was initiated in 2017.
The clear intention was to provide a digital application to the Bundeswehr which serves as control tool and central management cockpit (dashboard) for the user. IT-U-EBL thus supports the provision of operationally ready forces and assets in the Bundeswehr’s entire task and mission spectrum with the aim of providing the BMVg executive group and director level, the chiefs of staff and/or the major organisational elements as well as the Commander of the Bundeswehr Joint Forces Operations Command with a comprehensive situational picture both for routine duty and operations.
The measures implemented in 2018 focused on service-specific evaluation requirements such as the inclusion of the fleet management of the Air Force and Navy OPREP reports. Subsequent to the activation in December 2018 and further final measures it is planned to complete the digitisation of the operational readiness situation generation at the end of 2019.
Reporting System for the Internal and Social Situation of the Bundeswehr
In parallel to the operational readiness situation, the digitisation of the Reporting System for the Internal and Social Situation of the Bundeswehr (ISoLaBw) was initiated under the technical leadership of BMVg FüSK (Directorate-General for Forces Policy) III 1. In the current SASPF solution the dashboard supplies an up-to-date and georeferenced situation overview concerning reportable processes in the Bundeswehr so that evaluations can be accessed via standard reports at the push of a button.
One of the highlights of the project was the SAP Innovation Award 2018 which SAP annually grants to customers who transform their business model, drive innovation and are part of the spearhead of the digital economy. The Bundeswehr and its project IT-Support for the Reporting System for the Internal and Social Situation of the Bundeswehr (ISoLaBw) received an honourable mention for being a role model for digitisation in the public sector.
IT Support CPM
Real-time data processing, comprehensive simulation and analysis tools and modern intuitive applications are only some of the requirements for the digitisation of the Bundeswehr. The single-medium processing of data and the supply of an integrated, efficient and continuous IT support for the management of defence projects are other indispensable requirements that must be optimised. These requirements will be fulfilled with the project IT Support CPM, Replacement of EMIR and IVF/VOCON, in short: IT-U CPM that will be finalised in 2021 and is divided into three sub-projects. In the context of the project six legacy procedures, particularly EMIR and IVF-VOCON will be replaced with an innovative and highly integrated SASPF-based solution. Apart from the usual project management functions (work package planning, resource management, scheduling), IT-U CPM distinguishes itself by offering a complete budget integration which facilitates a detailed funding for each budget item – down to contract item level – and fund planning and management over time. The single-medium initialisation of the procurement process and the subsequent digitised awarding process will also be available. The implementation of extensive controlling including a digital staffing process, risk management and risk reporting is another focus of the project.
Furthermore, the integration of the planning and management of research & technology projects and the accompanying reporting system will be realised. Apart from the above-mentioned functions, solutions for Government Quality Assurance will be implemented which will provide extensive support for planning and conducting GQA inspections and supplier audits.
This also includes extensive technical reporting which at the same time underlines and exemplifies the highly integrative character of all parts of the product as it interacts with procurement data and project management data. The common parts of the solution that have been fielded since 2016 underline this aspect. The Procurement Analysis, for example, has delivered comprehensive evaluation methods and thus substantially contributed to steering decisions in Bundeswehr strategic purchasing while the Contract Lifecycle Management has made the day-to-day operations in contract management considerably easier and more efficient by using clause libraries and due to the electronic staffing of draft contracts.
In the larger context of the single-medium processing of data, the integration of electronic invoices seamlessly continues in the overall project context. The processes and the SASPF system landscape in particular must be compatible with federal and EU legislation. Since the entry into force of EU directive 2014/55/EU on electronic invoicing in public procurement dated 26 May 2014 public customers and contracting authorities have been obliged to accept and process electronic invoices.
The E-invoicing project – electronic processing of invoices – therefore ensures that the EU directive, which is to be translated into national law from 27 Nov 2018, is also applied by the Bundeswehr. Electronic invoices are invoices which are generated, transferred and received in a structured electronic format so that they can be processed automatically and electronically. An image file, a simple PDF file without structured data or a scan of a paper invoice are therefore not electronic invoices according to the EU directive.
In order to implement the legal requirements, a federal central platform for the receipt of invoices (ZRE) will be developed by the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF). Subsequent to registration, suppliers and service providers will be able to submit electronic invoices to the ZRE platform via different channels of communication (DE-Mail, email, web service, …). The reference information and invoice content additionally required for machine processing will be defined between the customer and the suppliers and service providers when awarding the contract. After successful receipt of the invoices a syntax validation and a formal check in accordance with Art. 14 of the German Turnover Tax Law takes place. Incorrect invoices will be rejected. After a successful check, the format of the invoices is transformed to a unified agency electronic invoice format and the invoices are stored in a specific agency area from which they can be retrieved.
The retrieval of invoices addressed to the Bundeswehr (invoice data record including processing log, additional documentation substantiating the invoice and/or annexes) from the ZRE platform and their subsequent distribution to the invoice processing systems is guaranteed and implemented by the E-invoicing project. In order to fulfil the requirement of revision-safe archiving, an electronic archiving system is added to the existing SASPF IT landscape.
The aim of a single-medium IT system is thus taken into account clearly and in a future-oriented manner by not only considering procedures and processes but also the people who have to act within these systems. These people have to be recruited for the armed forces with a view to future developments while the competition with other employers is increasing. The Bundeswehr as an employer increasingly relies on modern IT support for the recruiting of civilian and military personnel. The SAP component based E-recruiting application system is an effective tool with an integrated application management system; it supports personnel recruitment and is an important step towards the near-complete digitisation of the business process “personnel selection and staffing”. E-recruiting is a subproject of the agenda “Bundeswehr in Führung – Aktiv.Attraktiv.Anders.” (“The Bundeswehr leads the way – An active and attractive alternative”) and is connected to the careers portal, which was implemented and modernised at the same time. People who are interested or potential applicants for careers and actual posts in the Bundeswehr can find detailed information about job advertisements and career information in the online application portal and they can enter and edit all their personal data required for the application for a military career or a civilian post.
However, E-recruiting is far more than the above-described online application portal since the entire process of external and internal recruiting is supported by largely single-medium IT. This process includes determining the demand for personnel, job advertisements, the entire communication between the Bundeswehr and the applicants, aptitude testing, assignment to posts, generating the pre-employment documents up to the point where the data is transferred to the central personnel administration within SASPF. This does not just apply to military and civilian careers but to nearly all groups and posts and vacancies that need to be filled.
In order to implement the overall solution it was necessary to find new approaches in the SASPF programme and realise an SASPF-based partial solution with access from outside the existing Citrix-based access infrastructure from the Internet or the Bundeswehr Intranet. The main prerequisite was the creation of an extensive IT security architecture integrating or creating components or services in the central Bundeswehr gateway and the SASPF system landscape.
The project with all its components has been in service since 2017. In the meantime additional needs for change have been recognised and a follow-on project, E-Recruiting 2nd Level, has been planned and integrated into the SASPF programme strategy in order to process the initial capability, reservists for example.
Conclusion and Outlook
The SASPF programme solution portfolio described here constitutes a fundamental pillar for the achievement of the Bundeswehr goals in the command, defence and in-service use agendas and significantly contributes to improving the Bundeswehr’s steering and command capabilities. It successfully implements the requirement for a full-coverage IT support with SASPF as stipulated in the IT strategy and thus effectively contributes to digitalizing the Bundeswehr.
Team of authors BAAINBw.