ODYSSEY: The Leader in Defense Commerce Solutions Blog

3 Reasons To Use VSM Automation

Posted by James Lusk on Wed, Oct 9, 2019 @ 12:10 PM


Any contractor who has done work for the DoD is well aware of the DLA’s Vendor Shipment Module. VSM is a web-based application used by the DLA to manage shipment arrangements by providing Transportation Control Numbers for each shipment. It provides labels for small parcel services such as UPS and FedEx, as well as necessary paperwork for large shipments that require transportation carriers, and also allows the government to negotiate favorable rates with carriers. But for a defense contractor, especially those using automation for Mil-Std-129 labeling and WAWF transaction submissions, using the VSM website can be problematic and time consuming. Luckily, there is an alternative available.

There is technology available today that allows defense contractors to simplify the process of working with VSM. Called VSM Automation, the technology effectively streamlines VSM processes for defense contracts. If you’re on the fence about incorporating VSM Automation into your business, here are three reasons why you should:

Set it and forget it

VSM Automation eliminates the need for a contractor to interact with the VSM application, or transfer VSM information into other systems. The technology also allows contractors to prepare shipping labels and create invoices with minimum data entry. Contractors can receive shipment acceptance electronically, without entering data into the WAWF web site.

Make shipments easy

All required data can be directly accessed through a VSM Automation platform. Shipper labels from UPS, FedEx, DHL and others can be easily generated from the same interface.

End-to-End Integration

VSM Automation, especially those systems approved by the DoD, offer automated server-to-server integration with the purchasing, receiving and payment agencies of the DoD. All processes, including bidding, accepting contract awards and fulfilling orders from government agencies is managed in a single streamlined workflow. The improvements in operational efficiency, cash flow and government regulation compliance are immediate.

Odyssey is the market leader in VSM Automation, having released the first Direct VSM Integration available in February 2019. It is the only provider offering an integrated, cross-departmental workflow process utilizing an efficient and effective cloud-based platform. Odyssey is the preferred platform for hundreds of DoD commercial suppliers, non-profit government partners and federal agencies.

Contact Odyssey today to learn more about how our technology can assure your government contract work goes smoothly.

Topics: WAWF, VSM, MIL-STD-129, DoD, department of defense

Government Contracting 101

Posted by James Lusk on Mon, Sep 16, 2019 @ 14:09 PM


If you’re reading this, the chances are good that you’re either considering pursuing, or have recently entered into a government contract. If that’s true, then it’s easy to understand why. In 2017 alone, the Department of Defense spent approximately $294 billion on goods and services. With about half of those supplies being non-combat related, a wide array of companies from different industries have taken on government contracts. If this is your first contract, you should know that government work is unlike any other. While steady and profitable if done correctly, there are many pitfalls to government contracting that could potentially jeopardize your margins if not successfully navigated.

Below are several lessons you should learn before entering into that first government contract.

There are many rules. 

The DoD has standards governing almost every aspect of the business you have been contracted to complete. There are specific, multiple and disconnected systems (DIBBS, VSM, iRAPT/ WAWF) that suppliers are required to use for bidding, invoicing and asset tracking. And every step in the process introduces the potential for human error, which could negate your hard work.

Maintaining compliance is a big deal. 

Following every standard down to the letter is the key to a successful government contract. Suppliers who fail to meet a standard can be issued a Corrective Action Request (CAR), with four levels of CARs depending on the severity of the infraction. High level CARs require corrective actions that can result in reductions of payments, cost disallowances or even suspension of payments. Combine these with other consequences of noncompliance, such as rejected shipments or potential penalties, and it is easy to see why nonconformities can be so dangerous to your bottom line.

Technology offers a solution. 

There is software available today, developed specifically for government contractors and approved by the DoD, that allows you to take the guesswork out of maintaining compliance and focus on the work at hand. This software reduces requirements for manual data entry (and the accompanying chances for human error), integrates data from DIBBS, VSM and iRAPT/ WAWF, reduces liability in the labeling process, and even alerts you of new contract awards so you can begin working on fulfillment.

Besides supplying the technology, Odyssey’s experience can help you stay ahead of the constantly changing government compliance standards so you can execute your contracts efficiently.

Contact Odyssey today to learn more about how our technology can assure your government contract work goes smoothly.

Topics: WAWF, dod compliance, VSM, iRAPT, DoD, department of defense, DIBBS

What Odyssey’s New Integration with DLA’s Vendor Shipment Module Means for You

Posted by James Lusk on Thu, Feb 21, 2019 @ 17:02 PM

new integration with DLA Vendor Shipment Module

Recently, Odyssey announced a new integration with Defense Logistics Agency’s Vendor Shipment Module (VSM) that expands on current functionality for shipping label access. We had previously built an integration for Freight on Board (FOB) Destination shipments to allow you to access the necessary shipping labels, and the new integration lets you do the same for FOB Origin. This integration is the first of its kind and streamlines contract fulfillment processes for DoD suppliers like you.

Before the new VSM integration

The government has a program called First Destination Transportation Program (FDTP) that provides for the government to pay the shipping costs. Our platform was already integrated with DLA’s tool for FOB Destination shipments, and the previous functionality allowed suppliers to create all DoD-specific labels, such as NSN, MSL, and CASE.

However, businesses were not previously able to access or submit data for contracts designated for FOB Origin, and had to do an extra step of logging into VSM to access the shipping labels they needed.

What the integration means for DoD suppliers

With Odyssey’s new integration, all the required data can be directly accessed through our platform. Shipper labels for UPS, Fedex, DHL, and others can be easily generated from the same interface. This type of direct integration with VSM has never been available before, and Odyssey customers benefit from an even more efficient process.

If you’re an existing Odyssey customer, this new VSM integration upgrade is available at no cost. To learn more, contact us or refer to the Help tabs within the Odyssey software interface.

We know constantly evolving requirements create a burden for DoD suppliers, so being first to market with this VSM integration is exciting because we know it will help our customers fulfill government contracts more efficiently.

See the press release here, and get in touch with us to learn more about how we can make the process of doing business with the government easier and more profitable for your business.

Topics: VSM

DoD RFID and Commerce Compliance; Two Common Challenges

Posted by James Lusk on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

We want to start off by saying that we love RFID technology. We probably love it more than most people will ever realize. But as great as that affection is, we do recognize that there can be challenges in utilizing it correctly. Lately, we’ve noticed that prospective clients have been calling us with two specific issues related to the DoD Commerce process.DoD Software

1. ‘proof of delivery.’ Essentially, suppliers aren’t getting paid for the goods they’re shipping until they are able to prove the shipment occurred and was delivered.

2. the General Service Administration (GSA) recently transferring management of their contracts to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).

      These two issues, if not approached correctly, can throw a wrench into the machine of any supplier looking to ship their products in the most efficient manor possible. The complications seem to loom large, but they don’t look like obstacles to us, because we’ve specifically developed our Odyssey software to counteract such scenarios. Allow us to explain.

      We’ll start with 'proof of delivery', as this tends to be more of a widespread issue. When a DoD supplier sends something to the Government that requires a RFID tag they must ensure that the information they provide is 100 percent accurate. If the label data isn’t inputted correctly into Wide Area Workflow (WAWF), the supplier won’t find out until they see they haven’t been paid, which may be 30 days later.  Contacting the Government in this case often doesn’t solve the problem either. Without proper tags/MIL-STD 129R labels and corresponding database reconciliation, there’s no way for the receiving agency to properly accept the shipment. The supplier is left to search through their files, make sure they’re organized, get a copy of the packing slip, and shippers receipt label (UPS, FEDEX etc.) and send to DLA. Needless to say, this situation, that we have dubbed ‘forensic accounting,’ is all too easy to fall into, and can cause a variety of issues that include accounting and wasted resources.

      A RFID tag is composed of 24 characters and can easily succumb to human error when being transposed or hand entered into WAWF. Since RFID technology only works properly when it’s being used 100% accurately, a little bit of human error can cause a lot of headache. This is supremely easy to fix, however. Odyssey’s proprietary software combats this issue by marshaling the tag data within its software and in conjunction with electronically received contract data. Odyssey’s customers don’t have to touch the tag, which means the information can be sent to the DoD with 100% accuracy. Issues with proof of delivery become completely nonexistent. Wondering whether or not the information that’s been sent to the DoD is correct, and waiting a month hoping to receive payment, becomes a thing of the past.

       The second issue that we’ve seen recently deals with suppliers of products whose contracts were formerly managed by GSA, such as, but not limited to, paints and adhesives. These contractors are suddenly faced with a slew of new label and data requirements they need to meet. DLA began managing these former GSA contracts approximately six months ago. By being thrust into a space they’re not as familiar with, these contractors have struggled with creating the correct labels and processes for invoicing through Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) DoD approved Softward

      Previously, these suppliers would ship orders via a typical commercial shipment company like UPS with no additional label marking requirements. That is no longer the case, however, as the DLA requires MIL-STD 129R case and military shipping labels, scheduling of shipment through the Vendor Shipment Module (VSM) as well as a submission to Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) for shipment notices including composition and payment. Most of these suppliers have never even heard of these military standards and websites, and sudden requirement of their utilization is intimidating. Odyssey can easily step in and provide a solution that’s both quick to learn and easy to operate, which means they won’t lose any time or efficiency shipping their product. This ease and efficiency is born mainly from Odyssey managing compliance behind the scenes. Any person could be pulled off the street and taught how to use the software because the tricky stuff is handled automatically.

      We like to think of ourselves as problem solvers. RFID technology, while practical and efficient, does present challenges to its adopters. The industry as whole is still evolving, and we’re striving to be the foremost leaders within the DoD space. The Odyssey solution eliminates a multitude of issues and inconveniences associated with RFID. We ‘ve recently seen these two specific issues popping up in droves and we want to let suppliers know there is an easy solution to both of them.


Watch iRAPT Console VSM Integration Here!

Topics: DoD approved software, WAWF, Wide Area Workflow, dod compliance, VSM, MIL-STD-129, RFID, MIL-STD 129R

The Goal and Purpose of VSM

Posted by James Lusk on Tue, May 20, 2014 @ 16:05 PM

If a company or person has been working within the DoD space for any amount of time the Vendor Shipment Module (VSM) formerly known as DPMS is probably somewhat familiar.

If your new to the DoD commerce world and specifically Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) transactions we will attempt to provide some clarity to this piece of the process.

The Vendor Shipment Module or commonly referred to as VSM is a distribution and transportation system that DLA utilizes to support global warfigther efforts. Suppliers access VSM through a web-based portal and registered login information.VSM, DoD Compliance

click here to visit the vsm registration and login page. It is reccomended that each organization register with VSM.

VSM provides DLA the ability to more effectively have in-transit visibility on assests as they move from the vendor to various DLA destinations, ports and ultimately to customers.

VSM was designed in order to provide the most efficient process both physically and fiscally for DLA.

The DLA effort to meet these stated goals is highlighted within VSMs successful implementation resulting in:

  • standard enterprise process
  • reduction of customer wait time
  • reduction of returned/frustrated shipments
  • favorable freight rates

Statistics point to over 2,600 vendors utilizing the system and processing over 100,000 shipments per month. This number is growing rapidly in the wake of the memo dated September 3, 2013 introducing the First Destination Transportation Inatiative.

Maximizing vendor participation increases the economy of scale thus improving the cost savings realized by the government. Cost savings is a mere by-product of deploying human capital in the most efficient manner possible.

In order for the entire supply chain to reach maximum cost savings; efficiencies must be deployed evenly on the vendor and government side of the transaction. Vendors should have the ability to meet these additional requirements as efficiently and effectively as possible.

What about MIL-STD-129 and RFID?

The question often asked is how does utilizing VSM affect the requirement of Military Standard 129 p change 4 specifically RFID?

The answer is that it doesn't. VSM is a valuable, yet additional step in the process. Contracts calling out for Mil-std-129 label requirements including RFID must still be addressed.

DFARS 252.232-7006 and 252.232-7002 and 7003 centered around Passive RFID and electronic submission of payment requests is still activeVSM, WAWF,

The in-transit visibility provided by VSM is not related to the passive RFID mandate which is used to populate Wide Area Workflow (WAWF) for inventory control methodolgy and payment.

It is still very important to address the MIL-STD 129 label requirement. The vendor is also required to submit advance shipment notices (ASN) and commercial invoices (CI), potentially together as a combo directly to WAWF with the appropriate RFID information.

VSM is in addtion too, not in lieu of WAWF

Focusing on the proper completion of these steps will ensure DoD compliance as well as continued high performance vendor scoring and prompt payment.

The government has provided free services and tools for vendors to meet these requirements. Regsitering with the following sites will assist any organizaiton that would like to work in the area of DoD commerce.

Dibbs- DLA Internet Bid Board System

VSM- Vendor Shipment Module

WAWF- Wide Area Workflow

SAM- System for Award Management

Future blog topics will include

  • First Destination Transportation Initiative
  • ASTM D3951 commercial packaging
  • Mil-Std-130N IUID compliance,
  • IUID registry submission
  • UID custodial and lifecycle management

Watch iRAPT Console VSM Integration Here!

Topics: DoD approved software, WAWF, Wide Area Workflow, dod compliance, RFID Software, VSM, MIL-STD-129

DoD Approved Software integrates with VSM and WAWF

Posted by James Lusk on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 @ 12:04 PM

We wanted to share the below press release regarding ODYSSEY's new integration with VSM.DoD approved software

As discussed in previous blog posts software solutions that are integrated offer users the ability to work in the most efficient manor possible.

Please take a moment and review any previous blog posts as well as the below press release reiterating the value of integrated solutions for DoD suppliers.    

ODYSSEY is First to Offer VSM Integration for DoD Suppliers, Non- profit Government Partners and Federal Agencies

ODYSSEY’s WAWF Console VSM Integration Modernizes Department of Defense Commerce Workflow Process

CINCINNATI — ODYSSEY (http://www.odysseydcs.com/), the leader in defense commerce solutions and only Department of Defense (DoD) commerce solution provider delivering an integrated, cross-departmental workflow process utilizing an efficient and effective cloud- based platform, announced today that its WAWF Console module will offer full vendor shipment module (VSM) integration. The addition of this interactive functionality makes ODYSSEY the first and only company to offer such comprehensive services to DoD commercial suppliers, non- profit government partners and federal agencies. RFID Software, DoD Approved

This integration will allow organizations to streamline their DoD commerce processes by working within one comprehensive platform. Programmatically and in real-time, users will be able to submit required contract data and receive updated shipping instructions from VSM without leaving their WAWF Console module, allowing organizations to work efficiently by eliminating redundant data entry and opportunity for error. The efforts put forth through calibration on each side will also have a direct and immediate benefit within the DoD supply chain. These measures will help ensure integrity of data relevant to critical shipping instructions, as well as assist in the DoD inventory control methodology. The data the integration will directly incorporate into RFID and Non-RFID military standard compliant labels include, but are not limited to, updated TCN numbers, project codes, ship to DoDAACs, and ultimate consignee. 

“The VSM Integration essentially enables us to communicate directly with the government module, so when we process these transactions, we can stay within the ODYSSEY platform without having to log out. This allows us to shave about five minutes off of each order. We process roughly 1,000 orders a month, so this really adds up,” said Patrick Able, General Manager of Government Business, TW Metals. “And we appreciate that Odyssey made us a part of this process. When they developed this product, they actually asked for our feedback so they could create something that would be the most beneficial to their clients. Each time Odyssey adds capability to their platform, we save time, and in this climate of price pressure, limited budgets and increased competition, time is money. This is vital to our long-term success in the government market.”

We are thrilled to offer this added level of integration to our clients,” said James Lusk, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, ODYSSEY. “DoD suppliers follow very specific, and at times, complicated requirements to complete a successful transaction; our job is to make that as seamless as possible.”

For more information about ODYSSEY’s WAWF Console VSM integration and other defense commerce soutions, visit http://www.odysseydcs.com/.



Watch iRAPT Console VSM Integration Here!

About ODYSSEY                     

ODYSSEY was founded in 2006, intent on being a one-of-a-kind Department of Defense (DoD) commerce solution provider. Seven years later, ODYSSEY stands as the only provider delivering an integrated, cross-departmental workflow process utilizing an efficient and effective cloud-based platform. ODYSSEY has emerged as the leader in defense commerce solutions and the preferred platform for hundreds of DoD commercial suppliers, non-profit government partners and federal agencies. Partners of ODYSSEY have transformed their DoD commerce by streamlining the entire workflow process into a review environment rather than data entry. For more information, visit http://www.odysseydcs.com/.



Topics: DoD approved software, WAWF, Wide Area Workflow, dod compliance, RFID Software, VSM, WAWF Login, DPMS, RFID, UID

RFID Software; DoD shipping resource integration

Posted by James Lusk on Tue, Mar 5, 2013 @ 16:03 PM

Since you're reading this article it's probable that you or someone in your company is familiar with the required special steps it takes to process a DoD award versus an order from a standard commercial entity.

The DoD process is often overwhelming and missunderstood by companies working in government space. The reason it is a challenge for these companies and their personnel is because the required steps and data vary depending on the

  • Issuing agency, 
  • Award type,
  • Receiving depot and,
  • Asset class, etc.

 Updated 'Ship To DoDAAC'   RFID software

One of the steps in the DoD process involves receiving shipping information from the government so that compliant MIL-STD 129 p change 4  labels can be created and a shipment successfully transmitted to WAWF for payment.

The DoD methodology behind this process may seem odd to some, but it does make sense. 

Often times it is impossible at 'time of award' to know exactly where an asset is headed or the appropriate DoDAAC information to provide the contractor.

Because of the gap in 'practical information' the contractor must then reach out to the government at time of shipment to obtain the proper 'Ship To DoDAAC'.

The only way the data can be obtained is by logging into the government's site  DLA and Vendor Shipment Module VSM formerly known as DPMS.

Once logged into the site, the contractor must first provide data about the award so that they are able to receive the required information regarding the appropriate 'Ship To DoDAAC'.

The integrity of these data elements is extremely important and required within two areas of a compliant shipment.

  1. Human readable and barcoded on a physical label
  2. Transmitted to WAWF for accounting purposes

On the surface obtaining this information sounds like a pretty straight forward deal.

The challenge in this process is that all the other tasks involved with creating compliant labels are occurring in one or more unrelated software applications outside of the government's website.

The user is forced to 'copy and paste' or 'type in' information from multiple websites-into other websites to successfully complete a transaction. Data is being transmitted through various methods including

  • hand entering
  • copy and paste
  • writing down and re-typing
  • copying and handing off

and all of these examples must be manged with zero opportunity for error otherwise the organizations ABVS score is negatively affected or worse, non-payment ensues.

That is tough stuff and a lot of unneeded pressure! 

This one example is reason enough for companies to shy away from bidding on government contracts.

Integrated Solutions       describe the image

The ideal situation for a company is to have all DoD commerce activities,including RFID software; integrate with the many resources provided by the government.

Integrated software solutions allow customers to complete all tasks from one interface without logging in and out of software applications, websites or utilizing hand written notes. 

With respect to VSM and the data required to complete compliant labels and shipments; integration IS possible!

Odyssey-the leader in defense commerce solutions is the first solution provider to offer DoD suppliers an integrated and automated way to retrieve the following data elements and more!

  • Ship to DoDAACs and Addresses
  • TCN #'s
  • Priority Code
  • POD
  • Project Code
  • Required Delivery Date
  • Ultimate Consignee

DoD work is great although spending 80% of employees time on 20% of business is neither Efficient or Effective

If the DoD is the core of your business it makes sense to do things as Efficiently and Effectively as possible

Reach out to us and we will evaluate your current process and help determine if the revolution in DoD commerce is a good fit for your organization!

 Schedule a 20 Minute Call!



Topics: DoD approved software, WAWF, Wide Area Workflow, RFID Software, VSM, WAWF Login, DPMS