By Senior Airman Naomi Griego
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
The 50th Operations Support Squadron has begun a grass roots project to integrate its records management program using the Patriot Excalibur for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Space Operations Squadrons here in July.
The program, also known as PEX, is software commonly used by flying squadrons in the Department of Defense to schedule aircraft and personnel commitments, manage qualifications and training and produce displays and reports.
The 50 OSS has taken an innovative and unorthodox approach to modernize the way it tracks training records for more than 500 space operators here by using the software. This action is one way in which the squadron is managing its resources, resulting in money and time savings.
Oversight for the initiative is being provided by the 50 OSS crew force management flight commander, 1st Lt. Laura England. She said she hopes the transition from hard copy training records to PEX sets a trend for all space operations squadrons and potentially at the major command level.
England handles documentation for the training, evaluations, certifications and de-certifications for 2, 3 and 4 SOPS. She said once it is all set up, it will be a great asset.
“With the old red folders we used, we wasted a lot of paper and manpower,” she said. “It just wasn’t an efficient way to track information in a modern world.”
According to England, training records are the lifeline to an operator.
“If you don’t have records, technically, you haven’t completed requirements to do your job,” she added.
The process began more than a year-and-a-half ago when the 50 OSS teamed up with PEX creators to tailor the software for their needs. They needed the support of the squadrons, which ultimately would be using the system and they received it but with some skepticism.
England said it wasn’t an easy task initially, but they expected some challenges. She used the analogy of going from an older model flip phone to a smart phone.
“At first it seems overwhelming because there are so many tools and options, but once you learn to operate the basics, such as a text or phone call, you can build from there,” she said. She said eventually there will be a reduction in manpower and money used in the current documentation process.
Airman Alexandra Prater, 50 OSS crew force management technician, has been working first hand with the new program and appreciated the transition. She interacts directly with users and has been training 3 and 4 SOPS users.
“PEX enabled us to cut our manning in half so far and we hope to reduce it even more,” said Prater. “It (PEX) is very user friendly and reduces user error.”
Prater said the feedback she is receiving from users is positive.
“Anyone who can operate a computer can operate the program,” she added.
Currently, 2 SOPS is fully integrated in the PEX system and has set the learning curve for England and her team. They expect the transition for 3 and 4 SOPS to be completed by fall.
England urges all affected by the change to be patient and understanding.
“Give it some time because the outcome will be worth the growing pains,” she said.