New software providing solutions to navy HR woes

New Software

CPO1 Mike Umbach, MARPAC’s subject matter expert on the Digital Parade State tracking software, demonstrates the program to CPO2 Chris Gagne, HMCS Vancouver’s Combat System Engineering Chief.

Peter Mallett 
Staff Writer 

Once again the navy has embraced technology to improve the way it does business.

This spring they launched Digital Parade State (DPS), an internally-developed tracking software that provides instant, accurate information on crewing needs and personnel availability.

After beta testing, DPS went live in February with users in Canadian Fleet Pacific HQ staff, HMCS Regina, and the Personnel Coordination Centre in the initial roll out.

“This application provides our ships and sailors greater insight into the data that affects their day-to-day availability and career progression, and is a boon to personnel management efforts,” says Lt(N) Brent Fisher, Digital Parade State (DPS) team lead. “DPS helps address crewing shortages and improves personnel management by providing a real-time view of billet status and key statistics, and it addresses limited visibility on sailor employability.”

With a current shortfall exceeding 1,000 sailors, the software will aid in better addressing personnel challenges, he adds.

The web-based application can be launched from any desktop computer on the Defence Wide Area Network (DWAN) and is linked to a DWAN profile.

After launching the program, users can select from various options depending on their role and permissions. A fleet overview gives a quick synopsis of the personnel status of each unit; a ship summary provides a deep dive into each department and their members’ availability; and a sailor profile provides qualifications, a brief posting history, and how they can be employed.

“The idea is to digitize business processes and provide a one-stop shop where fleet staff can get an overview of all ships, who is available to sail, and who isn’t,” says Lt(N) Fisher. “It reduces dependency on unaligned personnel shadow systems, last-minute phone calls and voicemail messages, and unofficial Excel spreadsheets to fill personnel needs.”

Lt(N) Fisher notes that DPS is still a work in progress. New features will be added to the program each month, and problems with the software will be adjusted and fixed, with user feedback key to its evolution.

Training for success

Reaction to the new technology has been overwhelmingly positive, says CPO1 Mike Umbach, Maritime Forces Pacific’s (MARPAC) DPS Subject Matter Expert, who has been instructing units and ships on how to use the new technology. Members appreciate the ease of use and the efficiency of how information is presented.

“A significant number of individuals have also recognized the value DPS provides in supporting our members to more efficiently crew our fleet. They see DPS as an innovative and modernized approach to how the navy manages personnel.”

CPO1 Umbach has 30 years of experience in the navy serving in numerous warships and shore units. He has worked as a Naval Electronic Technician and Weapons Engineering Manager before being promoted into the CPO1 corps and says there is a high demand for simple high-tech solutions like DPS.

“Due to ongoing personnel shortages, and current operational tempo, we need to better manage our members to reduce burnout while maintaining operational effectiveness,” he says.

CPO1 Umbach recently completed training with HMC Ships Regina, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver on how to use DPS and its future capabilities. In the coming weeks he will train Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel crews and Canadian Submarine Force members, eventually expanding to all shore units within MARPAC. The DPS is being rolled out on the east coast by PO1 Kurt Eason.

It will also be important for junior members of the fleet to have a working understanding of the application and start using the program to its full potential.

“They need to be aware of the bigger picture and the reasons behind why some decisions are being made, as the more knowledgeable and informed our junior members are, it will help alleviate some stressors and build trust in the organization,” adds CPO1 Umbach.

The application was developed by a team from Base Information Services and Director Digital Navy starting in the fall of 2021.

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