US Army Travel Image credit Pixabay/SkeezeSAP Concur has announced that it has been selected to create a prototype solution to replace the Defence Travel System (DTS) for the US Department of Defence. This is a huge project and one that has had a chequered past. The DoD spends $9 billion on travel every year. The current DTS system is heavily criticised for its performance and complexity. Do a search for “DTS Meme” and it returns a range of amusing images to illustrate the point.

The DoD will spend $9.3 million to create the prototype. A team from SAP Concur, Accenture Federal Services, Booz Allen Hamilton and CWTSato Travel will create the solution. It has several objectives:

  • Reduce overall costs.
  • Decrease the time and effort spent by travelers, authorizing officials, and administrators planning travel and reimbursing travel expenses.
  • Scale without compromise on performance.
  • Reduce process and workflow complexity.
  • Meet the department’s audit readiness requirements.
  • Transform the satisfaction and usability for government employees.
  • Improve customer satisfaction.
  • Align to commercial/industry best practices.

Will this project succeed?

This is not the first time that the US Government has looked to improve its travel booking systems. In 2013, Northrop Grumman Corporation was awarded a contract worth up to £143 million to maintain and improve the existing DTS solution. It serviced more than 3.4 million DoD employees and processed more than 4 million travel orders each year. This was around 70% of all travel orders.

John H. Gibson .II , Chief Management Officer, DoD By United States Air Force [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
John H. Gibson .II , Chief Management Officer, DoD
This time however, the selection of SAP Concur demonstrates a shift in thinking. It is brings in a software solution that was not designed for the military. The challenge for all parties will be to review and change the existing processes. This might meet with resistance but it is the only way that the whole process can be simplified. If this does not happen it risks becoming another major failure.

Chief Management Officer John H. Gibson said: “We have a responsibility to ensure our resources are used in the most efficient and effective manner, and given this specific project has such a wide ranging and deep impact – reforms with results like these are crucial. I’m proud of the work we’re executing through the Reform Management Group and initiatives like this from the Information Technology Reform Team.”

What does this mean

This is a major win for SAP Concur although it has yet to do the hard work. SAP Concur has one of the best travel and expense solutions on the market. However, whether it can adjust to accommodate the military’s specific demands remains to be seen. If the DoD does adopt industry best practices this will be a considerable win for the company and a vindication of its solution to the wider market place. For those getting excited by the prospect of a new system, beware, the prototype is not due for completion until 2020.


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