Graduation near as mentees present capstone projects
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Graduation near as mentees present capstone projects
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Two teams of mentees participating in the Security Assistance Command's yearlong Mentor Program at New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, briefed their capstone projects May 2.

And the winner of the capstone project contest is ... Veni, Vidi, Vici, for their recommendation to create a better database for researching supply requisition rejects.

Team A, Veni, Vidi, Vici - "I came, I saw, I conquered," included Chris Snyder, Kim Rizzardo, Christ Elliott and Steve Ile. Their topic evolved from Snyder's information briefing about requisition rejects.

Team B, Bottom Line Up Front, included Daveine Butler, Mike Hurley, Melissa Olivas, Mitch Alpaugh and Wendy Forney. Their topic evolved out of a briefing by Forney about operational training needs at New Cumberland.

According to Ann Scott, chief of the Services and Products Division, both teams did an excellent job.

"The mentees batted way above their weight! None of them had ever done a decision briefing before, and they received about 90-minutes of training before we launched them on their way," Scott said. "The mentors stayed engaged with each team to make sure they were on track, but the mentees did all of the heavy lifting and did a great job. Each of them now at least knows what a decision briefing is, what they're for, and how to put one together and present it. Some senior people still lack that skill."

Team A's problem statement identified that CISIL has more than 300 potential requisition rejects-based edits and validations built into the system. These rejects are commonly known as VVVs. The instructions in the query are written in language that is hard for the beginner and some veteran users to understand, according to Snyder, the Team A lead.

"Too much time is spent on researching information to correct VVVs," Snyder, lead for Team A, said. "The current system is cumbersome and can be confusing and time consuming, which leads to poor morale and subpar customer service. Our goal would be a modernized and centralized knowledge base."

Her team recommended a drill down database be used as a centralized location for information with easy to understand instructions with examples along with training that would help users understand the sections and codes needed to be able to make corrections, Snyder said.

"The advantages would be that the database would be developed in-house and stored on a USASAC SharePoint site," Snyder said. "That would allow for quick updates, the process would be managed by one person. The database would allow employee feedback on a newsfeed, and the database would be printable."

Team B's problem statement identified a need for training to maintain competency. A large turnover of employees over the last five years is driving the rapid advancement of inexperienced employees.

According to Butler, the team lead, historically it could take as many as 10-15 years to advance to a senior CCM position.

"Employees generally spent five-plus years as supply techs and another five-plus years as supply specialists before advancing to a CCM position," Butler said. "Given the current high rate of turnover, employees are now advancing to CCM positions in as little as 3-4 years."

In the past, the experienced workforce at New Cumberland relied heavily on on-the-job training to develop new employees, she said. Senior supply techs, supply specialists and CCM team leads could provide most of the necessary training to develop the skills required to be proficient at each level.

"That is no longer the case," Butler said. "Most areas do not have the experience necessary to properly train to proficiency through OJT. Now, a more structured Operational Training program is needed that uses multiple approaches, such as OJT, computer-based training, instructor-led training, skills assessments and a more structured access to reference and policy material. However, we are in a resource-constrained environment, making this task very challenging."

Team B recommended a centrally led hybrid training program. They determined that having a combination of experts and peers conduct high quality training in dedicated training areas would be most beneficial to the workforce. The training would focus on foundational tasks and be mandated and centrally managed.

At the conclusion of the briefings, New Cumberland's Performance and Process Management Office accepted a hybrid version of Team Veni, Vidi, Vici's recommendation for how to fix the problem of excessive VVV rejection codes, Scott said. Also, parts of Team Bottom Line Up Front's recommendations for an operational training program certainly will be incorporated in any training concept developed for the New Cumberland workforce.

With the capstone projects briefings done, only two events remain. The mentors will host the mentees at a local restaurant the first week in June where the Mentee of the Year and Most Improved Mentee will be announced, as well as present trophies to Team Veni, Vidi, Vici for winning the capstone briefing contest. Graduation will follow later in June.

After graduation the cycle will start again. Scott said she plans to identify the mentors before she solicits mentees for the program.

"Last year, I did it the other way around and had far more mentees than mentors," she said. "I had to actually defer some mentees until this year. I want to avoid that problem this time around."