Upgrading an Office Automation Environment

The Army's DCSPER Automation Project Final Report

by Herb Shukiar, Roy Gates, Richard J. Kaplan

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In November 1990, the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (ODCSPER), U.S. Army, asked RAND to evaluate its current computing environment and recommend a course of action to improve it. RAND developed a questionnaire for ODCSPER staff members that focused on five broad categories: user characteristics; user sophistication; desktop- and nearby-equipment usage; user communications; and problems, limitations, and desired capabilities. This Note summarizes the survey results and suggests several evolutionary enhancements to ODCSPER's computing environment. The enhancements are designed to address concerns identified in the survey and provide ODCSPER with a flexible computing architecture that permits ready adaptation to changing technologies. As part of the incremental approach to improving ODCSPER office automation, the authors recommend three conceptual steps that, taken together, would foster a well integrated cooperative processing environment: (1) integrate the ODCSPER computing environment via a local-area network, providing direct peer-to-peer connectivity among computer users; (2) add centralized file managers/servers to the network, within which to store important documents in preparation, other important products, and databases down-loaded from the mainframes; and (3) add centralized computer servers to the network, coupled with migration of the electronic mail function from the mainframe to the servers.

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