MARINE CORPS SYSTEMS COMMAND QUANTICO, Va. --
They might be just a handful of people, yet each year their Marine Corps Systems Command office saves the entire Corps tens of millions of dollars. Under Product Group 10 Information Systems and Infrastructure, their enterprise-wide reach has sped computer support to the front lines to keep the latest software at warfighters’ fingertips.
In place since 2001, the Marine Corps Software Enterprise License Management System, or MCSELMS, program is still a relatively new concept to the Marine Corps. Yet, it packs the clout of almost 300,000 individual computer licenses to provide and maintain cut-rate, up-to-date online service for military and civilian keyboarders alike.
Enterprise licensing is “a relatively simple approach, but it works,” said Teresa Hardisty, MCSELMS Team Lead. She smiled when she compared MCSELMS’ success to “buying at Costco prices instead of 7-11. People understand that buying in bulk you get a discount.”
Quite a sizeable discount at that, dating from the program’s birth in 2001. Before then, when Marines needed computer software, their work sites bought the programs in “one-sies and two-sies,” as Hardisty described the acquisitions at that time, such as they were. New to her office in Product Group 10 back then, having come from a logistics background, she received a request for a software purchase and thought others in the command might have similar requests. She sent out a command-wide message, and the response was overwhelming.
By the time the order was placed, there were 283,000 identified licenses throughout the Marine Corps for just this one set of products. Buying in bulk rather than just one or two at a time, the Corps has realized $50 million in cost avoidance, and as new software products are added the total continues to rise. Soon after MCSELMS’ inception, Hardisty was no longer a one-person office serving only MCSC customers. Today she leads a team of four contractors that acquires computer software and maintenance across the Corps.
In its current form, MCSELMS is a centralized project office providing an enterprise contract vehicle, negotiating competitive contracts and providing an information and support website. The team also ships software packages to programs and Marine Corps units that require products, updates and support services worldwide for tactical and non-tactical use.
Early on in the mass acquisition process, Hardisty said “the big hitters” (major users) of the software helped build the business case for new enterprise agreements that offer benefits across the Marine Corps. Up until that time, Marines with personal computers needed separate licenses for each program they needed to use. The individual costs added up quickly, not to mention the price tag for individual maintenance contracts that had to be renewed when one specific user replaced another.
Hardisty’s team works with industry experts, the Marine Corps’ Chief Information Office and the Department of Navy to get the best deals and claim new licensing agreements that state, “Unlimited within the Marine Corps.”
The concept of enterprise licensing, as Hardisty explained, is based on industry best practices including the Department of Defense’s Enterprise Software Initiative and focuses on reducing the total cost of ownership. Enterprise licensing offers pre-negotiated pricing for license and maintenance support, including the ability to predict out-year maintenance costs and reduce the administration management footprint.
“The Marine Corps constantly upgrades its systems, and we want to keep current,” Hardisty said. “We can capture the entire community and keep them upgraded at all times with maintenance support. Securing maintenance for our software upholds the value of our initial investment.”
While holding down costs and shrinking the administrative footprint, the MCSELMS program has made its own welcome mark all the way to the front lines, thanks to the team’s hands-on and fast response.
“We centrally manage the software and have the ability to ship on demand,” Hardisty said. “Just last week, a Marine called us on Wednesday with a software requirement for his Saturday departure to Iraq. We were able to provide the media with keys within a day. He couldn’t have gone to the front that fast without MCSELMS.”
The heart of the MCSELMS operation, Hardisty said, is the program’s information and support website athttps://mcselms.mcsc.usmc.mil. It acts as a catch-all for enterprise software questions or problems.
The site includes vendor-specific software descriptions, software pricing and the Marine Corps’ policy concerning procurement of enterprise software offered through various contracts. Also on the website are order forms, ordering instructions, funding document templates and information technology procurement waiver links.
“With MCSELMS,” Hardisty said, “we can always deliver the software faster to the Marines, and that’s where we earn the warfighter’s trust.”