Updated: Jun 28, 2018
One of the DoD Federal agency’s primary responsibilities is to manage and maintain IT policies. Over 75% of policies were outdated (older than 5 years) and only one person was tracking the status of all policies on a share drive stored spreadsheet that was accessed only by that user. This was a time consuming, manual process in place at the Office of General Council and through further digging, we were able to map the existing process. An individual staff member would print out several hard copies and hand them out to all the attorneys who had equities in the policy being reviewed. They would write their notes and hand them back and the staff would have to try and read everything and incorporate changes. The staff member would then have to go back and validate the updates and submit the results back into the process. This was time consuming, unsecure, manual in all aspects, and would often take several months or get lost.
The need for process automation was evident at the DoD Federal. Since policy development was strictly an internal function for DoD Agency at the time, the OSD SharePoint Enterprise Service was chosen to get the organization's technology working for them more effectively. The information was transitioned from excel to a SharePoint list to enable better tracking and transparency. For the first time, everyone in the organization could view the complete list of policies and their status in the process pipeline. The process was streamlined and implemented in the DoD Agency Operations Portal. Live status and performance reporting based on the information in the policy tracker was implemented using SQL Server Reporting Services reports. The policy tracker allowed everyone to provide input on the policies. ACES then created a workflow process to track policy changes through a defined set of steps and measure how long each step took. This provided live visualizations that revealed a significant process bottleneck with the legal reviews.
As part of the DoD Agency's process automation, ACES Group created a Legal Reviews Tracker to provide more process insight to the Office of General Council (OGC). We created a specific list for the legal reviews and showed them how to use Tracked Changes and Co-Authoring in Word documents hosted on SharePoint. All documents were locked down so that no one could see comments until the users were done were ready, which was the main reason they wrote comments by hand. This allowed for accountability for lags in the process and eventually things began to move much faster. To help users quickly grasp how to interact with the Legal Reviews Tracker, a process page was created. It contained details for a process owner to learn how to manage the solution by watching a short video tutorial.
With each and every process that was streamlined, integrated and automated, countless hours were returned to the organization and its workforce to reallocate. As ACES worked with process owners, one of the most common statements we heard from the DoD personnel was how much they enjoyed coming to work because of the improvements and innovations we had made to the major processes they either managed or interacted with. It's sometimes hard to put a value on returns in moral such as this. The DoD agency's overall improvements in process efficiency and increased transparency resulted in a reduction in the average cycle time for a policy to be created/revised from over 263 days to under 36 within a few months.