There is no standard solution for DoD HQ organizations to keep track of who is doing what and where. DoD chartered responsibilities result in the implementation of jobs and processes in each organization. Due to the size of many DoD organizations, managing a current list of jobs (Job Jar), who is assigned to them, and how they relate to the organization’s mission can be a tough task.
Numerous nonstandard Job Jar Excel spreadsheets are used in most DoD HQ organizations. Due to high turnover, evolving mission requirements, organizational changes, maintaining these is hard and integrating them unreasonably complicated. The Microsoft 365 GCC provided the platform and tools to solve this long-standing problem. The ACES Job Jar solution uses SharePoint Online to provide organizations an unprecedented ability to align their mission, processes, roles, and responsibilities while tracking exactly who is doing what where. This translates to significant improvements in management and organizational effectiveness.
DoD Headquarters (HQ) Organizations have senior military leaders and support staff that rotate through the HQ on two-year assignments, and bring a wide variety of unique skills and experiences that must be quickly and fully leveraged during their short stay. The constant turnover made it extremely difficult for the organization to keep track of who was doing what.
Additionally, HQ organizations reorganize as required, to continuously optimize how limited resources are leveraged against new mission requirements generated by a landscape of ever-changing threats. Restructuring the organizations typically involves both the creation and elimination of one or more Divisions, Branches and Teams. Of the hundreds of jobs in each part of an HQ organization, some may be specific to a Division, Branch or Team while others may be assigned based on individual qualifications. Whenever the structure of organizations changes it typically takes 6-12 months to catch up to where they were by working through all the self-inflicted changes.
Although various parts of one particular DoD HQ organization maintained a “Job Jar” (list of jobs, process, responsibilities, etc.), there was no centralized, standardized, or single authoritative source for all the organizational responsibilities, and no standard way of seeing who was responsible for what. We found Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and OneNote lists that had a variety of nonstandard information. Some listed jobs while others associated names with the jobs. None were being maintained and few had been updated since the last reorg about a year prior.
The lack of accurate insight into who was doing what resulted in unassigned jobs and unfulfilled roles and responsibilities. Latent discovery of missed deadlines and unfulfilled responsibilities led to significant inefficiencies and stress, especially in the wake of a reorg event.
First, all the various spreadsheets, Word documents, OneNote pages, etc. being used as siloed Job Jars throughout all levels of the organization were collected. These documents were being stored in a variety of locations from laptops to shared drives and SharePoint. A coarse validation of the information was accomplished with whoever was available and seemingly most knowledgeable of the existing situation. Relevant artefacts and information from a verity of interviews with members at all levels in the organization were used to architect a data model to support the needed solution.
A “Job Jar” list was created in SharePoint Online to manage all the jobs and their assigned personnel. Advanced data governance was incorporated to automate the infusion of managed metadata. This reduced manual list data maintenance and improved data quality and accuracy. One example of how we did this was the incorporation of the “Personnel Tracker” solution. This was one of the first solutions ACES created for the organization. Integrating the Personnel Tracker as a Lookup provided an accurate pick list of personnel to associate with each job. With the Personnel Tracker integrated, whenever someone separated and HR had designated their replacement in the system, the jobs could be automatically reassigned to the new replacement. If no one manually intervened to make any changes, the transfer of responsibilities would happen without any human intervention.
Several SharePoint list views and dashboards were created to support a varity of organizational reporting requirements from Teams to the commander in the front office. A special view was created specifically to assist commanders with a Chess Board during reorgs that allowed them to view the consequences of their moves by getting an immediate list of individual responsibilities that would either travel with the person being reassigned or be reassigned to someone else.
Microsoft Teams was integrated into the solution to help Job Jar stakeholders work and communicate more effectively. MS Teams provided a seamless way of interacting with HR personnel that managed the Personnel Tracker. Furthermore, new personnel could use the information posted in Teams to quickly catch up on specifics regarding the Job Jar solution.
Access to the Job Jar was displayed on every organization’s Org Page in a standard location so it was always easy to find. Clicking on the Job Jar Icon would open up an interactive view of the Job Jar in a Modern List View that provided a filtered list of only the Jobs for that organization.
The Job Jar was one of the first places the organization began to realize the increased Return on Investment (ROI) that occurred when solutions like the Personnel Tracker were integrated. The integrated solution demonstrated the multi-faceted value of the overall solutions approach and the power of the modern experience in Microsoft 365. It also demonstrated the improved efficiencies gained with a properly architected process automation framework using the Microsoft 365 GCC.
Because the Job Jar solution leveraged the Personnel Tracker, no one had to duplicate the work accomplished by the HR team to maintain an accurate list of personnel in the organization. This not only provided an accurate pick list of personnel, but enabled automatic exposure of other metadata in the Personnel Tracker such as special skills, associated Division/Branch/Team, assignment and termination dates, etc.
Since anyone could sign up for an alert to the Personnel Tracker, whenever someone onboarded or separated from a Division, Branch, or Team, the people who managed the Job Jar would automatically be informed and could intervene if a manual adjustment was needed to assigned duties.
SharePoint enabled a centralized, standardized, single authoritative source of information for all jobs and associated personnel. Modern Microsoft Search enabled users to quickly find Jobs, POCs, and contact information, along with their online status and availability in MS Teams.
The automatic infusion of managed metadata into the Job Jar list minimized manual information management requirements and maximized data quality by removing human error during data entry.
Although Teams usually knew who was doing what, they didn’t have to respond to as many data calls from their Branch, Division, or Directorate levels probing for insights. Even more notable was the time saved by people on both ends – those needing information and those who would often get the phone calls from people needing information. The productivity gains by making job assignments transparent and process owners easy to find cannot be underestimated.
The biggest value to commanders was their ability to effectively manage the transfer and reassignment of responsibilities during reorg events. Being able to quickly understand if a job is aligned with a specific Team or could travel with a qualified individual-no matter where they resided in the organization-saved time and ensured the Master Sergeant with a passion for personnel training and was a fitness instructor in his spare time continued to manage and deliver PT testing for the organization regardless of his assigned Division.
Best of all, there were no unassigned jobs or jobs assigned to personnel no longer in the organization. The Job Jar significantly reduced many of the burdens and challenges associated with reorgs and enabled the organization to find its stride and return to efficient operations much faster than ever before.