In today’s busy world of technological advances, it’s important to both evaluate the paths that have already been taken and find ways to improve upon the progress that’s already been made. This spring, we talked about how the Web-Based Supply Chain Management System (WBSCM) streamlined the purchases for five unique agencies. Earlier this month, the system reached another milestone as it went through an update and re-launch that was on time and within budget.
The system—which was used by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and four other agencies to deliver nearly 8.5 billion pounds of domestically-produced foods to programs—is now primed to continue serving hundreds of businesses, states, and program recipients across the country. A multi-agency team of employees worked together on programming, testing, and training, to create an updated system that provides increased flexibility and improved functionality.
While most of the changes were in the background, WBSCM users have already noticed the refinements to the web application. For example, the screen entering a bid now displays more line items at once—a small change, but one that saves bidders valuable time. And, for many, the biggest improvement was that WBSCM is now compatible with more current versions of Internet Explorer.
The AMS Commodity Procurement staff provided 121 federal contractors—or USDA vendors—and 30 internal personnel with web-based, instructor-led training covering the different changes they would experience after the system went live. The WBSCM team also created an online training environment for USDA vendors to practice business processes such as bidding, entering advance shipping notifications, and submitting invoices.
In addition to a better user experience, there were also many secondary benefits to the collaborative technical process used for the updates. The cross-department team established valuable performance baselines, improved system documentation, and improved data management.
AMS and the WBSCM team continue to have their eyes on the future, building a system that will continue to be the premier solution for food purchasing at USDA and for all federal agencies.