Training to manage change
Employees attending Inventory Management and Stock Positioning training at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., take time out to enjoy a laugh. A total of 334 people attended the training sessions conducted by Amy Gonzalez, a change management specialist.

RICHMOND, Va. (Army News Service, Aug. 28, 2009) -- During the past two years, more than 1,100 Army, Navy and Air Force employees working at 13 service-run maintenance depots, industrial sites and shipyards joined the Defense Logistics Agency work force.

While many employees embraced the move, an equal number experienced the stress that comes with change.

The move was the result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure law, which directed supply, storage, and distribution functions and depot-level repairable procurement operations transfer to DLA.

When detachments were activated by DLA, employees at the sites transitioned in place and continued to support their military customers as part of the agency's aviation demand and supply chain manager, Defense Supply Center Richmond.

At first, these new DLA employees used the same tools and systems as before the transfer. However, at about the one-year mark, they begin the transition to DLA's Enterprise Business System. That's where Amy Gonzalez comes in. As a change management specialist, she's part EBS trainer and part DLA ambassador.

Gonzalez said she enjoys teaching the classes that make the transition easier because it gives her a chance to meet every EBS user at DLA's new sites.

"I regard this as a valuable change management opportunity as much as it is a training experience," Gonzalez said. "The first exposure these folks get to EBS is through me. I try to offer a positive, yet realistic, view of the complicated world of DLA systems and processes.

"My commitment to my students is honesty, and maybe a little fun."

Gonzalez said the biggest challenge in conducting the classes is that she's teaching people who didn't volunteer to come to DLA.

Gonzalez is making the rounds to sites, teaching Inventory Management and Stock Positioning classes. This month, she trained 225 people at DLA Warner Robins, Ga. -- the first to go live with the tools Aug. 23 -- and 334 people at DLA Oklahoma City at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

Amelia George, a DLA Oklahoma City supply technician, attended the training. She said despite the pending change, she is optimistic and found the training useful.

"Amy is a good communicator; she's motivational and creates a positive atmosphere. She has also been candid about some of the problems others have faced with some of the systems," George said.

"This new inventory management approach will combine the consumable inventories of DLA - the wholesale level - and the armed services - the retail level - into a single national inventory that can be managed in a more integrated manner. IMSP hopes to improve supply efficiencies by reducing inventories, improving the responsiveness of logistics support, and providing complete visibility of the supply chain," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said this is an introductory level class to prepare DLA Oklahoma City employees for their IMSP go-live date in November. It covers the foundations and concepts of EBS, with IMSP functionality of inventory management and stock positioning.

"IMSP isn't a whole new system, it's an augmentation of the existing business system that's been expanded into the retail echelon of inventory," Gonzalez said.

On the retail side, item managers and supportability specialists are co-located with customers on the maintenance production lines, promoting interaction and understanding of service customers.

"DLA is hungry for that type of intelligence; it will improve our forecast accuracy and enhance support to customers. We want to be the source of supply; we don't want customers to buy around us," Gonzalez said.

Not all of that intelligence is positive. One employee said she didn't feel like she worked for DLA, but was stuck in the middle, without the tools she needed to do her job.

"The Air Force seems to think we've been given some magic key and access since the DLA site activated, but we haven't," she said.

Gonzalez encourages interaction and understands when employees express concerns.

"I'm honest with employees. The implementation of our enterprise business system hasn't been flawless - it's not perfect and we're still wrestling with issues. What I try to convey is that we'll do better if you're engaged - it helps in dealing with difficult situations," Gonzalez said.

"We must constantly improve our business processes and enabling systems," wrote Agency Director Navy Vice Adm. Alan Thompson in his DLA Director's Guidance for 2009, stating that the current strategic course is sound.

"We use EBS and DSS worldwide, and continue optimizing these modern systems to provide improved tools for workforce efficiency and warfighter support effectiveness," Thompson wrote.

"We must enable our employees to most effectively employ EBS and DSS and other systems capabilities and to best execute their increasingly direct customer-support roles at forward industrial and operational sites."

(Debra R. Bingham serves with Defense Supply Center Richmond Public Affairs.)

Page last updated Fri August 28th, 2009 at 09:17