In today’s digital office environment, it’s easy to get lost in the daily grind of emails, meetings and never ending task lists. It’s no wonder productivity is one of the iTunes app store’s categories of apps for mobile devices.
At the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support in Philadelphia, one way the Continuous Process Improvement office is tackling productivity is through project management tools that enable transparent and clear decision making. Through a series of hands-on workshops on specific PM tools, the sessions support command policy to enable project management data-driven decision making and encourage the use of PM tools to improve communicating analyses.
“These tools will help answer questions in a different way,” DLA Troop Support CPI management and program analyst Christopher Sapsis said. “It’s about how the decision is made. And sometimes, I’d say often, how the decision is made is just as important - if not more important - as the decision itself.”
In an April 2019 policy statement, Troop Support command implemented a policy directing development of PM knowledge across the agency to enhance efficiency of resource utilization, risk assessment and measurable results using shared PM terms and techniques.
The CPI office is leading the effort to support the policy under the guidance of its division chief, Rene King, and the team has already rolled out a robust selection of available training courses.
King explained how the PM tools will support command and agency decisions.
“It’s helpful for a senior leader to see analyses,” King said. “They need to see what kind of options you considered to see how you’re assessing not only the risks, but also the difficulty of implementation and the benefit to the organization as you evaluate [options].”
Sapsis added that the tools CPI provides throughout the training are not intended to change the way employees do business, but rather help employees organize and present information to minimize risks and maximize benefits to the organization.
One of the PM tools the CPI office uses is a “benefit and effort matrix,” to illustrate how the process removes bias and paints a concise picture for leaders to use in decision making.
“Everyone [may have] a subjective opinion, but when you weigh the options [in a B&E matrix] … it’s [objectively] right there for leaders to see; very visual, and very powerful,” Sapsis said.
Product Test Center textile technologist Sara Beth Erpel attended one of the training sessions and said she is excited to share the lessons with her team, and appreciates the agency’s focus on PM tools.
“[The CPI team] gave an in-depth understanding of the [B&E tool] that injected humor and a real-life team building scenario to introduce project management as a way to give structure to data-based decisions,” Erpel said. “It is an interesting tool that helps to visually evaluate ideas and prioritize tasks, benefits or impacts of a project … encouraging critical thinking and ‘buy-in’ for a team or group.”
King said that the computer based training will remain available through DLA’s online training service, the Learning Management System, and that more classroom training on other PM topics is being planned.