Process improvement pilot program helps keep employees on their feet

By Shaun Eagan DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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Employees at the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support are purposely “standing around” more now than ever before.

A DLA Troop Support Continuous Process Improvement team implemented a Lean Six Sigma pilot program that resulted in 700 employees receiving sit-to-stand desks. The organization also saved approximately $70,000 and reduced delivery time by months, according to a program analyst.

“The goal of the CPI project was to collaborate with the Safety and Employee Equal Opportunity [offices] to reduce the waiting time for a sit-to-stand desk to arrive,” said Kevin Gleaton, a CPI management and program analyst. “The pilot program contributed to workforce enhancement by delivering an ergonomic item in a timely manner in which our employees no longer had to wait for extended periods of time.”

Gleaton and his partners on the pilot program noticed employees were waiting long periods, often months, to receive sit-to-stand desks needed for either health, comfort, or both.

Before the pilot program, employees needed to complete a Reasonable Accommodation request through EEO, Gleaton explained.

Erica Vasquez, a Medical tailored vendor logistics specialist, uses her new sit-to-stand desk at DLA Troop Support March 10, 2020 in Philadelphia.
Erica Vasquez, a Medical tailored vendor logistics specialist, uses her new sit-to-stand desk at DLA Troop Support March 10, 2020 in Philadelphia. The CPI team led a pilot program that resulted in 700 employees receiving sit-to-stand desks at lower costs and faster delivery.
Erica Vasquez, a Medical tailored vendor logistics specialist, uses her new sit-to-stand desk at DLA Troop Support March 10, 2020 in Philadelphia.
Process improvement pilot program helps keep employees on their feet
Erica Vasquez, a Medical tailored vendor logistics specialist, uses her new sit-to-stand desk at DLA Troop Support March 10, 2020 in Philadelphia. The CPI team led a pilot program that resulted in 700 employees receiving sit-to-stand desks at lower costs and faster delivery.
Photo By: Shaun Eagan
VIRIN: 200310-D-CB802-0010
EEO would then process the requests through the Computer/Electronic Accommodation Program, which was responsible for acquiring desks for Department of Defense organizations, until a policy change in Oct. 2018 left that responsibility to the organizations directly.

To help with requests, Safety began offering ergonomic assessments as an option for employees who needed the sit-to-stand desks.

However, after the policy change, receiving the proper approvals and allocation of resources turned out to be a waiting game, Gleaton said. It would take months until an employee finally received their desk.

Gleaton believed there had to be a better way to help employees. So he leaned on his resources from the Procurement office and Medical supply chain for their contracting expertise in hopes to meet the growing need for the desks.

“Medical took the lead in the pilot after seeing our supply chain’s credit card getting maxed out buying sit-to-stand desks one by one,” said Yvonne Poplawski, Medical’s Collective/Whole of Government division chief. “Noting that we are a DLA Center of Excellence for Acquisition…we teamed with the DLA Contract Service Office and others to generate a holistic approach to procuring the desks in bulk.”

The team decided to make the most out the concept, and got straight to the point: help as many employees as possible. The Medical team talked with their contracting and CPI partners, figured out a plan and pitched the idea to senior leadership. Soon enough, contract negotiations were underway.

Altogether, the program acquired 700 sit-to-stand desks– 140 per supply chain.

“Employees with reasonable accommodations were first priority, followed by those employees who had ergonomic assessments performed or were awaiting one,” Gleaton explained.

Gleaton said he noticed the pilot’s success immediately. The desks delivered from the vendor in as little as 10 days as opposed to the three-to-five months under CAP. In addition, with the basic formula of buying in bulk, the desks costs about $100 less each than what the organization was paying through individual purchases.

One employee, Erica Vasquez, who was also waiting on a reasonable accommodation request, worked on the program with Poplawski and said it was great to help her fellow employees.

Members who helped coordinate a Continuous Process Improvement pilot program pose for a photo at DLA Troop Support March 10, 2020 in Philadelphia.
Members who helped coordinate a Continuous Process Improvement pilot program pose for a photo at DLA Troop Support March 10, 2020 in Philadelphia. The CPI team led a pilot program that resulted in 700 employees receiving sit-to-stand desks at lower costs and faster delivery.
Members who helped coordinate a Continuous Process Improvement pilot program pose for a photo at DLA Troop Support March 10, 2020 in Philadelphia.
Process improvement pilot program helps keep employees on their feet
Members who helped coordinate a Continuous Process Improvement pilot program pose for a photo at DLA Troop Support March 10, 2020 in Philadelphia. The CPI team led a pilot program that resulted in 700 employees receiving sit-to-stand desks at lower costs and faster delivery.
Photo By: Shaun Eagan
VIRIN: 200310-D-CB802-0015
“One thing that this pilot program excelled at was the reduction in time that it took to obtain a sit–to-stand desk for those who wanted or needed one,” Vasquez said. “It was really great to be part of a project that had such a direct impact on employee morale and overall workplace wellness.”

DLA Installation Support is currently distributing the desks, and Poplawski said all deliveries should be complete by mid-April.

As for the pilot program, CPI will evaluate how to build off its success. But for now, Gleaton is just pleased with the results.

“This initiative was a tremendous boost to our People and Culture [line of effort],” Gleaton said. “I would like to express my gratitude to all parties involved to make this possible…none of this would have been possible without them. The safety and health of our workforce is of the utmost importance, and our senior leaders answered the call.”