By Eileen Godinez, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Plans, Analysis and Integration OfficeJuly 3, 2008
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Because the garrison knows a Soldier's time is valuable, the staff at the Directorate of Human Resources (DHR) took on a Lean Six project to reduce the wait time for DD 214 - a report of military separation - processing and achieved better than anticipated results.As the Army looks to improve efficiency while minimizing costs, the management tool known as Lean Six Sigma was implemented across Army Installations in 2006 to help Garrison personnel find ways to provide faster service, at a cheaper rate, to a higher standard or quality level. What is Lean Six Sigma'
Lean focuses on speed and Six Sigma focuses on quality. A target of Six Sigma is to reduce defects. According to the Six Sigma standard, the highest sigma level is 6.0, which equates to (3.4) defects per million opportunities. Is it possible' Yes, we expect our doctors and pilots to be perfect all the time, so why shouldn't we' How can we achieve near perfect performance' By using the problem-solving methodology that is best described as Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control, or DMAIC. What is DMAIC'
Imagine it as a doctor's process. When we go to the doctor's office, he or she asks us to explain our problems (define). After the symptoms are defined, the doctor checks our blood and vital signs by taking samples (measure). Then, he analyzes these samples and gives us prescriptions to cure (improve) our ailment. She then monitors our recovery and ensures we are cured (control). This same methodology is used by all Installation Management Command (IMCOM) LSS Green Belt candidates; they must follow the methodology to be certified as a Green Belt. DHR's Lean Six Jae Sun Wilson, a management analyst with the Garrison-Hawaii, Plans, Analysis and Integration Office and an LSS Green Belt candidate, worked with the staff at DHR in the Transition Service Center (TSC) to speed up the processing of DD 214s and, subsequently, decrease wait time for Soldiers. The TSC provides services to all active, National Guard, and Reserve Soldiers for the Pacific Rim. DD214 processing at the TSC prior to the LSS project was not standardized and took approximately one and one-half days to complete. It was found that 56 percent of Soldiers came to the TSC with missing or incomplete packages. These Soldiers would have to leave and bring back the missing documents, creating an increase in processing time and unnecessary stress for the Soldier.
In addition, during the quality reviewing process, reviewers found a 50 percent error rate in the first draft of the DD 214. Counselors had to rework these forms, resulting in wasted time and supplies. In the early stage of the project, the LSS team measured the baseline and brainstormed causes and effects by indentifying the whys and causes. Why did Soldiers come to the TSC with incomplete packages' Why did the quality assurance/quality reviewer find so many errors from the first draft DD 214s' The team then drew a process flow chart, measured process cycle times, and had a few Aca,!A"Ah ha!Aca,!A? moments. A solution was identified, tested and re-measured to ensure defects were eliminated from the process. In conclusion, the team successfully reached the goal of increased customer satisfaction by reducing wait time to complete the DD 214 process. Currently, Soldiers do not have to revisit the TSC the following day to pick up completed DD 214s. The forms are now processed in approximately three hours, freeing up valuable Soldier time. Using Lean Six Sigma practices, the DHR team reduced the number of steps in the DD 214 process from seven to three and improve the accuracy of the first pass DD 214 to 99 percent (5.3 Sigma level). In short, Soldiers spend less time at DHR and receive a better quality product, thanks to the LSS project team of Carissa Gardner, Donald Carter, Richard Haglund, Demetrius Morgan, Matthew Geismar, Sugie Cho, Winona Ohelo, Carol Kihara and Jae Sun Wilson.