Army Contracting Command is turning to Continual Process Improvement to improve its contracting processes and better meet its mission requirements.

One of the CPI initiatives is the development of a "Lean for Contracting" course that incorporates pertinent Lean Six Sigma efficiency techniques into contracting processes for implementation across the organization, according to A.D. Barksdale, ACC's CPI deployment director and an Army-certified Lead Six Sigma master black belt.

The vision for the course is to introduce contracting professionals to Lean concepts and to give them an understanding of how implementing these concepts into their daily business processes will gain efficiencies and standardization, Barksdale said.

In a message to the workforce, Maj. Gen. Ted Harrison, ACC's commanding general, said, "We must change our business approach to survive and meet our mission requirements. That's why I've directed the establishment of a command-wide Continuous Process Improvement Program -- CPI. CPI will change our way of doing business, a business transformation, to give us new tools and structure to manage our mission. Implementing a strong CPI Program across ACC will enable us to examine our processes with the intent of finding and eliminating redundancy, waste and rework."

Developing a CPI culture across ACC begins with introducing the entire workforce to Lean principles, Barksdale pointed out.

"ACC has begun introducing Lean to its junior workforce through the Intern Boot Camp," he explained. "Additionally, ACC has started training a small cadre of its best and brightest contracting professionals to become certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belts, Black Belts and Master Black Belts."

Five members of ACC-Aberdeen Proving Ground were selected to participate in the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification training in February 2014: Gregory L. Davies, chief, Division C; Gloria Dent, Operations chief; and three members of the Contracting Operations Division, Emily Feeheley, branch chief; Rob Perry, branch chief; and Kevin King, procurement analyst. As a follow on, these members were also selected by Steven Bryant, deputy director for ACC-APG, to form a Lean Integrated Process Team to serve as a resource team for developing the new "Lean for Contracting" course curriculum.

"The two-day course will target middle managers and senior leaders who require in-depth instruction on the implementation of Lean practices and tools for the contracting environment," Barksdale said. "This course will contain exercises with real contracting examples so that the Lean techniques are not only learned, but they will become the preferred method for executing process improvement. Our plan is to craft two pilot classes, one at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and one at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, which are projected to be offered in the July timeframe."

The Lean IPT recently conducted its first meeting at APG, facilitated by Barksdale and Jennifer Staggs, ACC's CPI procurement analyst, to discuss the user requirements and to give focused direction on the development of the Lean for Contracting course.

According to Barksdale, the IPT determined that the new course should place a great deal of emphasis on project chartering, value stream mapping, value stream analysis, failure modes and effects analysis, root cause analysis, and time management tools.

"The input and personal experiences of the Lean IPT will provide valuable information for developing the scope and curriculum for the course," explained Staggs. "Lean Six Sigma techniques have been used in contracting and they absolutely work!"