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News | June 20, 2016

Major Program Support BPR promises changes

By Thomas Perry DCMA Public Affairs

FORT LEE, Va. - Last year a group of acquisition professionals from across the Defense Contract Management Agency answered Air Force Lt. Gen. Wendy Masiello’s call to support her agency’s Process Working Group initiative.

Business Process Re-engineering 4: Major Program Support was one of 10 groups formed from a cross section of subject matter experts to develop agile business practices and optimize customer support. These trailblazers-of-change represent a wide array of professional disciplines, functional backgrounds and organizational levels.

BPR 4, which currently has 13 members, was charged with improving MPS Program Assessment Reporting creation to improve actionable acquisition insight delivery to customers.

Charlie Sullivan, Portfolio Management and Integration PWG lead and BPR 4 team process owner, explained the agency’s decision to replace the aging processes.

“Our customers need acquisition insight that is both timely and accurate,” said Sullivan. “The program integrator is charged with gathering the information, but can only glean insight from the source data provided by the functional subject matter experts. The current method is not efficient or timely, and is not conducive to collaboration.”

Marie Greening, the agency’s chief operations officer, detailed the group’s targeted process improvements in a memorandum to regional and contract management office commanders and directors June 6:
- Leverage DCMA 360’s information sharing aspects to improve collaboration within program support teams, commonly known as PSTs, and support PSTs.
- Require PST members to submit weekly program updates to their program integrator or support program integrator, or provide notice of nothing to report.
- Make collection of supporting information more efficient through automated data pulls of relevant information from the reporting system.
- Build a foundation for agency analysis by automating the process of PAR creation within the Integrated Workflow Management System, or IWMS.
- Change PAR reporting frequency from monthly to quarterly.
- Stand up a new process to produce Program Notifications in between PAR cycles in order to provide more timely actionable acquisition insight.

The first phase of implementation is targeted for first quarter fiscal year 2017 as part of the IWMS 3.0 release. BPR 4 team members anticipate a significant DCMA community impact.

“DCMA team members will be working in a more collaborative environment than they may have been in the past,” said Shaun Lanham, the MPS focal point/senior engineer. “The intent of this collaboration is to increase the acquisition insight provided to our customers and less emphasis on reporting numbers without context.”

According to Sullivan, that context plays a key role. “Improvements in the process will allow the PSTs to focus more on producing higher quality reports that contain enhanced causal analysis, which can be used in risk mitigation activities, avoiding schedule slippages and/or cost overruns.”

Running toward a solution without a clear definition of the problem was something leadership hoped to avoid. During the measure phase of BPR 4’s Lean Six Sigma process, the team focused on gathering the “voice of the customer” - an in-depth process of capturing customer’s expectations, preferences and aversions.

“There were concerns that our reporting tended to be ‘stale’ and that in some cases it focused on reporting numbers in lieu of providing the acquisition insight behind the numbers,” Lanham said.

The team issued surveys and completed inquiries with the agency’s top customer-facing representatives such as interviewing the agency’s National Capital Region Navy Portfolio director, who according to Sullivan, has direct daily interface with senior Navy leaders.

“Our voice of the customer efforts provided many improvement opportunities,” said Lanham. “Examples include: reporting in a more real-time manner; reducing the number of reviews/approvals for our reports; requesting more emphasis on acquisition insight in lieu of just reporting numbers without context; creating the ability to data mine program report information by supplier, service, etc.; and providing better PST training.”

The BPR 4 team prioritized a layered training schedule early in the process, realizing that training is an important component to successful change. The first iteration of training was conducted with contract management office change agents during June’s Worldwide Training Conference.

According to Lanham, the goal was for these representatives to “carry the message back with them,” laying the groundwork to support future training initiatives that include virtual training sessions and sustainment videos.

In September, the IWMS PAR and team collaboration DCMA 360 sites will offer online training. While initial training efforts will focus on agency team members directly impacted by the MPS improvements, the BPR 4 team is working with the Training Working Group to create universal training intended to enhance all documented insight provided to program integrators.

“As the process owner, I’m very proud of the work effort displayed by BPR 4,” said Sullivan. “The team has a well-established battle rhythm, leverages DCMA 360 for sharing information, and has been very productive given the amount of work involved to conduct a full Lean Six Sigma project. Since August 2015, the team has re-engineered the process, developed dozens of much needed process changes, conceptualized and is implementing a material solution, and is well on the way to implementing those improvements.”

Sullivan credits DCMA Lockheed Martin Orlando and DCMA Raytheon Tucson with assisting in idea development, process refinement and collaborative support. “This automated PAR was a good idea initiated by Orlando and enhanced through cross-agency collaboration with DCMA Raytheon Tucson.”

When Masiello called, acquisition professionals from around the globe responded, choosing to leave their comfort zones of family, friends and familiarity to contribute directly to the betterment of the agency’s warfighter support mission. In her PWG recruiting email, Masiello asked subject matter experts to “come to Fort Lee with an open mind, a desire to be part of something historic and good ideas already swirling around in their minds.”

Often, a general’s call to arms is the first step in victory.

“Many team members have worked on major programs, and they believe strongly that we have an important role as an independent broker on both the diagnosis and prognosis of the program,” said Lanham. “We can bring a lot of unfiltered insight forward in areas such as supply chain and contractor progress. Congress, (the Office of the Secretary of Defense), and the (program management offices) have and will continue to use our independent analysis to help them make difficult decisions about the program’s path forward.”