Keeping an Army on task is no simple feat. It requires close coordination, pinpointed tracking and effective, user-friendly technology.
Jen Smith, a contract specialist in Army Contracting Command-Rock Island’s (ACC-RI) Information Technology Contracting Division, has been working tirelessly on two contracts, Task Management Tool (TMT) and Enterprise Task Management Software Solution (ETMS2) on top of training the center’s newest contract specialists.
TMT is the current Army Task Management Tool. It is the mechanism software that is geared for all the Army tasking requirements.
Smith says currently the TMT is utilized by mostly Army organizations, but there are some non-Department of Defense (DoD) organizations using TMT as well and that TMT benefits the Army because it provides a one-stop shop for its tasking requirements.
“The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has mandated DoD adopt the Army’s Task Management solution allowing for standardization across agencies. The push is to make it so that all of these different organizations are able to utilize one specific system, making it easier for senior leaders and organizations to receive real time and up to date information on mission,” said Smith.
ETMS2 is the competitive follow on solicitation for the current TMT contract, which expires in August. This requirement is a full and open competition, allowing vendors to provide bids for the follow on contract, whereas TMT is a proprietary software for services that is currently provided via sole source.
“The follow on is highly complex, making it a full and open competition was in the Army’s best interest in order for us to see if there are other potential vendors who can meet the Army’s requirements, while also meeting the OSD mandate for everyone,” said Smith. “It is a huge undertaking for any vendor to have that big of a footprint across the entire spectrum of Federal agencies which makes this a highly energetic requirement.”
Smith says the follow-on has the same set of goals as TMT, but whatever system wins the award, it will have to provide a seamless integration with the current TMT system making sure all Army and OSD requirements are being met.
Smith says that the ETMS2 is complex because they are juggling a myriad of stakeholders and expectation management. They are not only juggling the Army’s interest, but are also dealing with the interests of the Department of Defense (DoD) Senior Leaders, budgets of the organizations that utilize the system, and end users which are all funneled through the Army Enterprise Staff Management System (AESMS) Program Office and ultimately to Smith.
Smith says that she works through the challenges of multiple stakeholders by ensuring she has a good working relationship with the customer.
“I always take the approach with any of my work to have an active and engaging role in the program,” said Smith. “I have been blessed and fortunate to work with the AESMS Program Office team that is very receptive and responsive to working together in order to provide the best end product for the Army, they are a top tier team and a huge asset to the Army.”
Smith has a customer service background and says that by having this, she is able to establish a rapport with her customers that facilitates trust in the business decisions provided along with balancing what’s allowable under the rules and regulations that govern contracting. Ultimately, the goal is to provide a flexible and innovative vehicle that meets the depth and breadth of the requirement.
“Working in tandem with the customer, knowing the requirement, building the relationships with each one of the team members and being able to work with those people on a daily basis is the most important part of my job,” said Smith. “They are the ones that ultimately know what is needed and I am the one that can get them that in a timely manner within all the rules we have to follow.”
Shanna Henao, branch chief and Babette Murphy, contracting officer in the Information Technology Branch say that Smith does an excellent job keeping things on track, keeping up with milestones, multitasking, and has a great relationship with her customers.
“Without her initiative and technical expertise in both contracting and understanding the scope of the actual requirement, things wouldn’t successfully move forward,” said Murphy. “TMT is an incredibly complex system and even more complex is the contracting vehicle that’s needed to support it because it’s in support of all DoD.”
Murphy says that there has to be a lot of ability to think outside the box, but still be within contracting regulatory compliances.
“Without somebody like Smith who is a self-starter, proactive, open minded, cooperative and can develop a good relationship with a customer team, we would not be able to move forward proactively,” said Murphy. In addition to these contracts, Smith has taken on work with the center’s interns. She says that she did this because ever since she was an intern, the one thing that has stuck with her is the people that helped her along the way that she would consider mentors and the impact that they have had on her.
“I have always felt like giving back to the people who are the backbone of this command, those being the interns,” said Smith. “Those people are our future, so if we don’t take the time to invest in them, the knowledge and resources, capabilities that we have, that ultimately impacts our end mission, which is supporting the warfighter.”
Smith says stepping up and being that person is something that all of us should be doing in order for the organization to move forward. Through her work teaching the interns, the interns have taught her some things as well. “I always learn from every person that I train, whether it’s something that I didn’t know how to do in Excel or if it’s a fresh way to look at a problem or issue,” said Smith. “I feel like there is always room in this job for learning and growth.”
Smith says that she not only helps them, but she also gets so much out of learning different ways to approach issues, utilizing systems differently as well as programs, interacting with people differently, and just learning from everybody that she has had the opportunity to train.
“I’m currently in source selections for the follow on contract,” said Smith. “Being able to bring in an intern to that situation is valuable, not only for them, but for me to be able to have a fresh set of eyes on a certain document. It also gives them the opportunity to see something maybe they haven’t seen before on the Source Selection process while simultaneously working the requirements under the current contract, providing them an opportunity to see a fast-paced and complex administration contract.”
Smith says that she wakes up every day and always tries to remember who she is doing the work for.
“I really enjoy being around people and interacting with them, so I sort of get my drive when I am able to interact with others,” said Smith. “It’s always tough juggling work and life, but you wake up every day and you just do it for the Soldiers.”
Smith says that none of us generally do this job alone and she is thankful that she has had such a great team with her customers and here at ACC-Rock Island. Henao says that Jen excels at training the interns.
“Jen has been one of the best trainers I’ve seen,” said Henao. “Jen would devote two to three hours a day just to a specific intern, she would shift her workload and work day around as much as she could to make sure to give this person the attention they needed.”
Henao says that Smith’s patience and organizational skills are a great asset when she sits with interns to go through each step of the contracting process.
“Jen understands the better we train our people, they are a better resource for the center overall,” said Henao. “Spending a little more time upfront is a benefit for us in the long run.”