A last minute, overseas mission was put into jeopardy earlier this year due to errors in employees’ Defense Travel System accounts. That forced DTS experts at Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support to scramble to ensure the mission could be executed as planned.
Scenarios like this became frequent enough to push two Troop Support employees to peak under the hood of DTS to determine what was causing it to stall, said Jontell Platts, who teamed with fellow Command Support Office management and program analyst Ray Finch.
“We had had enough of that,” Finch said.
The team worked with the Continuous Process Improvement office to initiate a formal CPI project, with Finch serving as the project facilitator and Platts serving as a team member.
Peter Stupak, a management and program analyst in the CPI office, served as the team lead and helped the team apply lean principles, which aim to maximize customer value while minimizing waste, in its effort to increase DTS compliance rates from 78 percent to above 90 percent.
Their first objective was to clean up the surplus of invalid traveler accounts. Platts said they relied upon support from the DTS team at Fort Belvoir to help correct the errors. In all, they removed 708 invalid accounts from the system – nearly 40 percent of total accounts.
They also addressed problems with the routing lists in the approval process for DTS authorizations and vouchers. Many of the routing lists suffered from single points of failure, in which if a particular approval official was not available, then the approval wouldn’t move forward.
“A lot of people’s orders were just stuck in one place,” Platts said. “There was no back up.”
Finch and Platts eliminated the single points of failure by reducing the number of routing lists and redesigning them to ensure multiple approval officials were assigned to each traveler’s account.
The team also created a quick-reference guide to assist DTS travelers and approving officials.
Their efforts paid dividends within a few months as Troop Support’s DTS compliance rate averaged 93 percent from July to October.
The swift success was no surprise to the CPI office.
“They demonstrated a firm understanding of the various tools used to perform the analysis and translated their knowledge of travel regulations into actionable outcomes with a lasting impact,” Stupak said. “Troop Support will reap the benefits of their efforts because the job aid they created helps travelers avoid common pitfalls and arms them with the information needed before they travel so their vouchers are submitted correctly.”