FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
Customer opinions helped shape the new Defense Logistics Agency 2021-2026 Strategic Plan set to debut near the end of March after three months of interviews facilitated by the DLA Customer Support Division.
The group arranged the interviews, which were conducted by an independent management consultant firm, with over 100 military and federal customers at leadership and tactical levels to assess perceptions of the agency’s performance and areas needing improvement.
“There are always things we can do to improve, but hearing directly from those we support helped us prioritize opportunities in our limited resource and constrained environment,” said Andy Monday, who oversees the agency’s customer outreach efforts.
Though DLA senior-leader insight also influenced the plan’s five lines of effort that range from maximizing warfighter readiness to modernizing acquisition management, customer feedback drove objectives like implementing customer-centric performance metrics and increasing transparency of DLA fees. Customers expressed desires for DLA to help address service-specific challenges on slow-moving parts for maintenance operations, enhance support to customers’ missions and offer better tools to resolve issues among other requests.
Nathan Won and Angela Patterson, customer relationship management program managers, worked with representatives from the major subordinate commands, DLA regional commands and service-aligned account managers to determine which customers to include in the interviews.
“We only had a finite number of interviews that could be conducted, yet we wanted to get as much as possible from the input,” Monday said, adding that the team also helped shape interview questions and broaden consultants’ understanding of DLA’s mission and business models to facilitate dialogue.
The diversity of whole-of-government agencies DLA supports made it a challenge to identify which organizations to include in interviews, Patterson said.
“Each of them have different missions, so it was a fine balance between looking at what they do and the type of support DLA provides to determine where we’d get the most value,” she said. “Before we made our recommendations to leadership, we did some negotiating to ensure the most well-rounded representation.”
Interviews were combined with journey mapping in 12 areas in which customers provided feedback on specific issues including individual supply chains, storage and distribution, and depot-level reparables.
Background work leading up to DLA strategic plans differs for every iteration. The last time customer interviews were conducted to help shape the plan was for the 2015-2022 version under former DLA Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Andy Busch, said Todd Lloyd, a program analyst for DLA Transformation, which coordinates plan development among different parts of the agency.
Monday added that customer input will continue to direct DLA’s actions, as the new plan charges his team with improving customer satisfaction by enhancing customer-facing tools and software, formalizing customer feedback, and redesigning service collaboration events in which DLA and military partners share details on emerging issues.