The need for property accountability for our US Department of Defense is extraordinary. The thinking is simple: how can you budget and maintain equipment when you don’t know what you’ve got in the first place? Mark an item, scan the item, and identify the location or custodian. As we progress through 2012 we’ll see more legacy equipment accountability and inventory control application of IUID.
That said, 2011 marked a shift in IUID policy ownership. The office that birthed IUID, Undersecretary of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L), has passed the baton to the Undersecretary of Logistics, Maintenance, and Readiness (LM&R). This is a profound change that shifts the focus from a contractual obligation and unfunded mandate to the areas of the armed services that stand to benefit greatly from the technology – the logistics and maintenance enterprise. I have no doubt that this office will need to consider their approach to leveraging IUID and that will take time. However, some current established policies can easily be “refreshed” to take advantage of IUID and the benefits of the technology. Serialized Item Management or SIM is a good example of this. Since SIM can be leveraged as a powerful approach to maintaining military equipment and systems, IUID provides that extra layer of machine-readable encoding that will result in more accurate data and lead to productivity improvements.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) will also have a part in IUID for 2012 but I believe that it’s much smaller than people imagine. IUID will not rely on ERP in the short term since any ERP that is still being deployed has a trajectory that won’t include IUID for several years. Meanwhile, the current legacy information systems will have a role with IUID now, even if ERP will “absorb” these systems someday. Since ERP systems are useless without high quality and reliable data, current legacy systems have the opportunity to clean up any less reliable data by applying IUID with item level detail. In my experience, as much as 40-50% of the data in an equipment database without IUID item level detail has cumulative errors, as result of using traditional clipboard or fat fingered recording which provide high error rates.