By Julie Slaten, AMRDEC Public AffairsJuly 10, 2014
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (July 10, 2014) -- A collaborative team from the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, or AMRDEC, and the Army Contracting Command-Redstone is applying Lean Six Sigma research methodologies and managerial principles to identify areas for process improvement and cost avoidance in Army contracting.
According to Rebecca Weirick, executive director of ACC-Redstone, this is a team approach intended to strengthen the symbiotic relationship between the two organizations.
At a kickoff meeting in April, AMRDEC's Julius Turner, a U.S. Army black belt and private sector master black belt of Lean Six Sigma, was asked to design and lead a project aimed at reducing the amount of time and resources required utilizing the AMCOM Expedited Professional and Engineering Support Services, or EXPRESS, contract vessel.
"This project is a holistic approach to finding out overall issues and standardizing processes across the board. The goal is for streamlined processes at both AMRDEC and ACC, creating efficient and quality work with a shorter lead time on contract awards," said Turner.
The phases that Turner is leading the team through include defining the opportunity, measuring the baseline performance, analyzing the root causes, improving the process and controlling the improved process to prevent regression.
In the first phase, AMRDEC personnel created a value-stream map to visualize internal processes and identify opportunities for improvement. Led by Jim Hatfield, deputy director of the Weapons Development and Integration Directorate, representatives from each directorate analyzed their individual processes. The team discovered incorrect routing of packages, issues with funding availability, and inconsistencies with forms and processes within the AMRDEC. They determined that through standardization and tracking tools they could reduce lead times and errors, as well as keep stakeholders better informed.
The AMRDEC Contract Tracking System, developed by the System Simulation and Development Directorate, is a software suite designed to provide various users a tool to efficiently create, track, modify, and submit tasks to the ACC for award of an EXPRESS contract. By providing these capabilities to the user, the system will streamline the submittal, approval, and management process. ACTS will provide an interface that allows ease of access and standardizes forms and processes across AMRDEC. Center-wide implementation is scheduled to begin October 2014.
ACC processes were also mapped and analyzed during phase one. Turner and ACC representatives identified inconsistencies in the contracting officer review process that contributed to an overburdening of the AMCOM legal department. Working with Charles Farrior, ACC deputy director, and Vicky Spivey, acting director of express and Strategic Services, the team standardized the review process and gained additional legal counsel.
"I believe working with AMRDEC senior leadership in establishing new and improved processes to execute a surge of customer requirements has a lot of synergy and support across the board," Farrior said.
This collaboration has also allowed for training time with the legal department and a review of the tech monitor contracting review process and technical instruction changes required by ACC, he said.
"We are changing the culture and how we view our relationship with AMRDEC under Express. A big part of that is education. By educating, we are instilling quality in the requirements process up front, which will result in significantly reduced procurement time. We have already seen positive results with this," Farrior said.
"Collaboration is about the power of teaming, gaining the information advantage and synergizing together in resonation to an optimized product and/or effort outcome," said James Lackey, acting AMRDEC director.
According to Turner, the team has currently reduced contract lead times from 68 to 28 days, but is continuing toward a goal of 15 days. He said that a final report to senior leaders will be presented later this summer.
AMRDEC is one of the leaders in process improvement at Team Redstone. Through this Lean Six Sigma project, AMRDEC has gained visibility throughout the Army, leading to more projects all the way to AMC.
The Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.