BATTLE CREEK, Mich. –
The rollercoaster has been slowly climbing, just about to reach its apex, and that brief moment before the plunge has arrived.
“You’re very excited, but you’re also a little anxious,” said Mike Cannon, Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services director. “Nervousness is fine, but don’t be scared.”
The pep talk was not given to prepare his organization’s senior leaders for a theme park field trip. Rather, he was expressing the excitement and trepidation surrounding Warehouse Management System and its imminent adoption across the enterprise. Day 4 of the DLA Disposition Services Senior Leader Summit in Battle Creek, Michigan, Oct. 27, was headlined by a WMS demo given by members of the implementation team, and Cannon cautioned attendees against underestimating how important the system’s roll-out would be.
“I can’t say it enough. WMS has got to work,” he told the crowd, likening its adoption by the agency to putting all its “auditory eggs” in one basket. “We are not dropping that basket.”
The agency has invested heavily in WMS, and it expects to introduce the system at a reported 123 of its global sites in three years, including property disposal offices and DLA Distribution warehouses. The agency’s top tech leaders have called it DLA’s largest information technology modernization of the past two decades.
Cannon said teamwork during the preparation stage had been “incredible.” Contributors had been diligent in the training development, exhaustive testing was ongoing, and team members remained hard at work in resolving defects. A “go live” test at the command’s Battle Creek simulation warehouse is set for November, and some of the first sites expected to receive training and field the system will include property disposal offices in San Antonio, at Fort Riley in Kansas, and at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.
“Our starting point info has to be perfect,” Cannon said, referring to the initial process of exporting inventory information from the currently used Defense Supply System into WMS. “We’ve got to have a good beginning balance. It’s very critical. It’s very important.”
He said it was reasonable to expect a decrease in production metrics while new users learned the ins and outs of the system, but he was confident that WMS would ultimately be more enabling, more cost effective, and simply better and easier. Cannon said he’d be traveling to sites prior to their WMS implementation, to check the workforce pulse and make sure adopters are excited rather than worried.
Implementation team deputy Nick Bristow and members of his group guided summit attendees through an entire receipt-to-stow iteration using WMS and took questions from those gathered. He echoed Cannon’s thoughts on where the team currently found itself.
“We are excited, we are eager,” Bristow said. “We are definitely at the top of that rollercoaster.”
Other summit business included a pair of personal awards that were handed out during the day’s session: David Orr received the Defense Superior Civilian Service Award for his efforts as a safety inspector for the North-East region, and People and Culture Program Manager Maggie Mieras was recognized for 35 years of federal service.
Additional Thursday training and collaboration sessions included brainstorming sessions on command hiring practices, meetings between the uniformed leaders of the agency’s Disposal Support Units and the region directors, and a review and discussion of the types of discrepancies typically seen during field site inspections.
The final day of the summit will cover the agency’s new master labor agreement and wind down with question-and-answer sessions with headquarters directorates including Human Resources, Resource Management, Contracting, Operations and Business Support.