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News | Feb. 5, 2020

Hardware employees share knowledge to improve communication, processes

By John Dwyer III DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

Imagine an inbox full of unread, priority emails. A notification pops up. It’s a request from another team in your office with an urgent priority for data that seems irrelevant, and you’re not even sure what they’re asking about. Sound familiar?

Thanks to the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Industrial Hardware’s new “Best Practice Team” who met for the first time Jan. 30 in Philadelphia, IH employees will now have a forum to gain perspective and share insights across teams and divisions to avoid these types of concerns.

“This group is, in effect, the left hand talking to the right hand,” IH Contracting Officer and BPT chairperson Robert Singley said. “We’re here to make our lives better, to educate and to help our fellow teammates.”

The BPT arose from feedback citing a need for better understanding of processes in the overall IH acquisition function, IH Culture Improvement Team Chairperson Taylor Fontana said.

“We got a lot of [2018 DLA Climate Culture] surveys indicating a need for better cross-functional communication,” Fontana said. “People wanted to know where they fit into processes, and how they could help other teammates understand what they do.”

From that feedback, Fontana said, the CIT recommended a formal avenue to discuss cross-functional issues and develop solutions that were easily communicated to process stakeholders with varying job functions across the organization.

“The goal is not to create a cookie cutter for solutions, but rather a defined communication channel,” Singley said. “How can we connect the dots [between work centers], and then how can we communicate and disseminate that information appropriately to as many people as possible?”

The plan, Singley said, is to host quarterly meetings to discuss common issues and have subject matter experts lead a group discussion to resolve the issues in a way everyone across the supply chain can understand and work with more efficiently.

Members of the team, selected by supply chain division chiefs,  can then determine the best fix from there by either bringing the information back to their teams, hosting small group trainings or creating a centralized process to formalize the solution if warranted.

The overall goal is to use the BPT to improve the knowledge and processes shared throughout the organization. 

“Everything we do has a ripple effect within, and sometime outside of, our supply chain,” Singley said. “We’re not going to change [federal contracting] policy, but we can make things within our scope of control as efficient as possible and share that knowledge.”

As an enterprise, DLA Troop Support’s Continuous Process Improvement office is developing a centralized library for communicating and disseminating best practices across the workforce at large for those larger fixes that warrant it. Industrial Hardware is engaged with CPI as a part of their effort. The CPI library is expected to be available in early spring 2020.