By Gordon Van VleetJune 13, 2008
A Lean Six Sigma project initiated by the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command (Army), focusing on optimization of the Defense Message System, has resulted in a $9.7 million savings to the Army and could potentially save more than $35 million if all recommended improvements are approved and implemented.
The project, which began in March 2007, focused on restructuring of the DMS contract support requirements in Southwest Asia, said project lead Lawrence Couture, an Operations Research Systems Analyst for NETCOM.
"In the past, DMS required special hardware and software right down to the user's personal computer," Couture said. "Now, as a result of this project, there are several options available that make it possible to provide both classified and unclassified DMS services from a single suite of equipment to an entire theater or regional area."
DMS is the Department of Defense system of record for organizational messaging, Couture said when explaining the importance of DMS. "Organizational messaging includes messages and other communications that are exchanged between organizational elements of the U.S. Armed Forces, our NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) allies, our defense industry partners and other governmental agencies in support of command and control, combat support, combat service support, and other functional activities.
"Because of their official and sometimes critical nature, organizational messages impose operational requirements on the communications systems for capabilities such as precedence, timely delivery, and high availability and reliability."
The objective of the DMS optimization project was to reduce the number and frequency of non-delivery notifications (NDN) occurring in the Army Message Handling System (AMHS), thereby increasing message availability and reliability while streamlining the network for better efficiency, said Couture.
"DMS optimization was selected as a good candidate for LSS improvements because prior to March 2007, the AMHS experienced a high rate of NDNs reducing the effective availability and reliability of DMS," said Couture.
"Restructuring of the DMS contract support requirements in Southwest Asia was initiated this year, and accounts for most of the almost $10 million in savings so far," Couture said. "The plan now is to continue with the same project to further consolidate resources in the Pacific."
"This project was a great example of the right LSS belt being applied to a process problem they know very well," said Laretta Hamlett, Director, NETCOM Business Transformation Office. "Mr. Couture has been working with DMS for many years. He is not only well-versed in how the system operates and how it is funded, but also knows who the major players are."
The DMS optimization LSS project is not a typical Green Belt project said Hamlett. "LSS Green Belt projects are typically small, scoped to be completed within less than three months, and do not involve extensive cross-organizational coordination to complete. This project not only extended across several of NETCOM's subordinate commands, but also touched other military departments."
"His (Couture's) ability to coordinate across such a wide variety of organizations while achieving project goals speaks to his leadership capability and the value of his experience, and was critical to the success in completing this project," said Hamlett.
Couture was placed in charge of the DMS restructuring project after receiving LSS Green Belt training, and was officially awarded his Green Belt certificate after completion of the DMS optimization project. Although this project is much more extensive than a typical Green Belt project, this is Couture's first completed project that was required for certification said Hamlett. "The Army program of instruction requires all belt candidates to successfully complete one project after attending two weeks of training to qualify for certification."
The savings from this project were not typical either; and as a result of the substantial savings to the Army and the success of this project, it is evident that LSS will continue to be a part of NETCOM's transformation efforts as the command continues to provide global communication capabilities to the Warfighter.