Stakeholder Education and Engagement Help Save U.S. Army's Logistics Modernization Program

For three decades, the U.S. Army managed its logistics using 2,200 separate legacy software applications, which no longer could easily adapt to the demands of a flexible, rapidly deployable Army. To replace the disconnected systems with a cohesive end-to-end supply chain solution, the Army initiated its Logistics Modernization Program (LMP). Change management and strategic communications were sacrificed as the system was rushed into production and deployed worldwide to meet the sudden requirements of a nation at war after 2001. As a result, LMP became an easy target for users under pressure and soon was the subject of rumor mills and investigative stories.

Problem

Unfounded rumors about the new system’s capabilities damaged the program’s credibility, endangered its future and threatened to slow down the delivery of improvements that would make critical differences on the battlefield and in domestic operations. The initiative was placed on “strategic pause” for further review by the Army, putting it at risk for cancellation. Inaccurate perceptions about LMP went unchecked and grew into accepted myths within months. Soon, LMP became the subject of vocal user complaints and negative media attention. The Army Program Executive Office (PEO) responsible for LMP and LMP program leaders knew the value that the program was providing and knew that if the system were cut, the Army would suffer both on the front lines and on the home front.

Solution

PEO brought in Hillmer to develop and implement an effective communications strategy. The timetable to develop the strategy, implement changes and turn around perception about the program: six short months. To debunk myths and rumors about the program and refurbish LMP’s image, Hillmer consulted with PEO and program leaders to identify and analyze target audiences, define key messages for each audience, and develop and implement a successful education and strategic communications strategy. Within six months, LMP was lifted from “strategic pause” and given the green light to continue deployment. Today, LMP is fully deployed worldwide and is one of the world’s largest and most successful enterprise resource programs.

Processes

Hillmer’s strategic communications plan included executive briefings, by-lined articles, media interviews, speaking engagements, conferences and road shows at implementation sites. To differentiate the accurate sources of information about the program from unfounded rumors, Hillmer created a memorable LMP brand that enabled stakeholders and users to readily identify and correctly link the program’s achievements with the LMP brand. Working with PEO and program leaders, Hillmer developed a strategy that called out measurable results and yet was flexible enough to accommodate fast-moving technological, political and military changes within a resource-constrained environment. An LMP overview video featured executive Army leaders and user representatives endorsing the program, and LMP Information Kits included fact sheets, “key message” cards and executive biographies. Furthermore, Hillmer worked with LMP organizational planners to incorporate the strategic communications plan into the organization’s larger, long-term strategic plan. This inclusion allowed LMP leaders to effectively measure the return on investment of communications-related materials and strategies.

Tools/Skills

  • Content management
  • Event planning and management
  • Graphic design
  • Strategic communications
  • Training/learning management
  • Video production

Stats

After inviting Hillmer on board, LMP was reinstated as a successful program and is now fully operational and deployed worldwide to 17,000 users. LMP is one of the largest fully integrated supply chain maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) planning and execution solutions in the world. The system has earned numerous awards that helped reinforce the value of LMP to stakeholders and policymakers, including: an Excellence in Enterprise Integration Award and an Honorable Mention for the Military Logistics Program of the Year Award in 2006; a Project Management Excellence award from the Government Information Technology Executive Council in 2007; and a Fed 100 award in 2008 for the deputy program manager for LMP.

Accomplishment

Hillmer’s communication strategy successfully aligned the Army’s logistics personnel with the goals of the program. The strategy, which was developed and implemented within the confines of highly constrained program resources, helped set expectations with personnel directly affected by the system and as well as decision makers in the federal executive and legislative branches. Today, LMP handles 1.3 million transactions daily and is delivering a significant advantage in managing Army operations at home and on the battlefield, dramatically reducing the time, funding and human resources required to process the Army’s transactions.