FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
Leaders from across the Defense Logistics Agency gathered March 1-2 in Richmond, Virginia, for a Digital-Business Transformation Senior Leader Offsite focused on “futureproofing” the agency.
Futureproofing is a business practice for designing products or systems to avoid obsolescence, making it easier to adapt to future requirements. D-BX leverages modern information technology to transform DLA business and deliver world-class logistics support to warfighters in the decades to come.
Senior leaders discussed core D-BX capabilities including modernizing DLA’s IT landscape and business processes while leveraging new and emerging technologies to create a culture of innovation for DLA’s customers and workforce.
Acting DLA Chief Information Officer Karyn Runstrom emphasized the need for those in operational and IT functions throughout the agency to understand that D-BX is how the agency will modernize.
“D-BX requires a cultural commitment from the entire agency, and the DLA leadership team needs to lead from the front,” she said.
Modernizing everything from warehouse operations to cataloging tools is a massive task that requires a sustained and concerted effort as well as a unified vision of team collaboration from management, added Brad Bunn, DLA’s vice director.
“Part-time D-BX is failing; therefore, we’re assigning a senior executive champion for each D-BX and Business Process Reengineering effort to bring down barriers and ensure steady progress,” Bunn said. “The champions will facilitate discussions around what needs to happen and set up a framework to achieve milestones on our D-BX journey.”
BPR is an integral part of D-BX that requires IT leaders to collaborate with business teams to identify which business processes are effective, which ones need to be replaced, the business value of the environment and whether the system is a hindrance. BPR also seeks to limit customization of DLA’s core systems.
Many of DLA’s legacy systems were developed decades ago and the software requires extensive customization, which is labor intensive and not cost-effective to maintain. The legacy platforms are so highly configured they rely on dedicated specialists to monitor, patch and customize to keep them aligned with the Defense Department’s overall cybersecurity plan and standards. Limiting the customization on these systems with a more flexible, cloud-based platform is more cost effective to maintain.
This was the second D-BX offsite for leaders since the initiative was implemented in 2022. D-BX has already been successful with the launch of the Warehouse Management System at nine sites. WMS uses modern tools, processes and capabilities to provide efficient, cost-effective customer support. It’s also built to enable the future implementation of disruptive technologies like augmented reality and automated inventories.
DLA Disposition Services Director Michael Cannon said WMS will allow the agency to pursue technology advances in property disposal that aren’t possible with Distribution Standard System software.
“As far as futureproofing, the best thing we’ve done in that arena is to minimize customization, so future base software updates and changes will have less impact on WMS, create few – if any – unintended results and will be more cost effective to maintain. I expect we’ll be using WMS for up to two decades, so what we develop now needs to work for the foreseeable future,” he said.
D-BX offers major subordinate commands an opportunity to use modernized systems that provide the best customer service to warfighters and other federal, state and local agency partners, and allied nations. DLA Energy Deputy Commander David Kless said D-BX needs to be able to provide DLA Energy an agile solution that allows it to execute its unique and complex business processes efficiently, for example. At DLA Land and Maritime, D-BX is expected to integrate business processes that are now separate.
“This will give us better insights into our data and processes, leading to better and more efficient support to the warfighter,” said Chrissy Schall, DLA Land and Maritime process management operations director.