Friday, November 11, 2011

ECBC's Industrial Base Analysis and Information Technology Teams Increase Customer Satisfaction Through Matrixed Communications

The Edgewood Chemical Biological Center Industrial Base (IB) Program provides a solid foundation for IB support to the Army Materiel Command’s (AMC) and the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Communities.

The ECBC-RI IB Program gained significant capabilities in 2007 with the merger between the ECBC IB Team and the former U.S. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity IB mission at Rock Island Arsenal. Since then, the program has been steadily expanding and encompasses functional team capabilities with an integrated suite of IB Program services. Eric Hoover is the Team Lead for the IB assessment functions, and Steve Beck is the Team Lead for the IB information management systems.

“By combining our resources, customers are able to tap into a single source for comprehensive turn-key IB solutions. Many of our customers, including AMC, the CBRN communities, the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO-CBD), as well as other customers, have already capitalized on our capabilities,” Hoover said.

The AMC and JPEO-CBD IB missions provide the ECBC-RI IB Teams with the assets to incorporate a broad and in-depth spectrum of data collection methodologies. This provides our customers visibility of IB risks and issues and supports their decision-making process. As a result of the association with AMC, the IB Teams have a matrix organizational relationship with the Defense Contract Management Agency’s Industrial Analysis Center (DCMA-IAC), Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and other subordinate AMC IB-centric organizations. The IB Teams are able to reach out to resources not readily available to other IB organizations. This ability plays a critical role in IB efforts when developing an assessment or technology solution that involves a Joint Department of Defense (DoD) IB perspective – not just a single Service’s.

Likewise, the synergistic matrix influence is readily apparent when the IB Teams conduct studies, analyses, market research, assessments or other research tasks. Being able to reach out to DCMA-IAC and DLA enables the teams to construct a comprehensive assessment integrating the various impacts and influences of an entire industrial sector, not just a single organization.

As an integrated organization, both teams are able to collaborate to deliver information and technology tools that enable actionable decision-making and effective solutions to industrial base issues. An example of this capability surfaced recently when the teams were tasked by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (OASA (ALT)) to assess the impact of DoD program eductions of the Ceramic Body Armor Industrial Sector. Key components of this assessment include planned acquisitions, procurements, Military Services requirements and contractor performance data. The teams showed their ability to access, capture and display critical information within a very concise window of time, allowing OASA (ALT) to visualize the risks facing this industrial sector and the ramifications of the program reductions and formulate risk mitigation plans to preserve the Ceramic Body Armor capabilities.

“Because of our unique position in the DoD IB community and our ability to create synergies among different organizations, our assessments can present a ‘common operating picture’ to leadership,” Hoover said. “Another benefit we bring to the table is awareness of IB issues, future-state planning and program requirements, which are particularly important as the DoD continues to experience reductions in budgets and programs impacting the supporting IB and supply chains.”

Illustrating the synergies for an effective and comprehensive IB information management solution is the Industrial Base Assessment System (IBAS) System.

“Communication with our user community is continuous. Not only is the customer able to readily retrieve actionable information, but we are also able to perform custom information requests quickly,” Beck said. “This greatly enhances the user’s ability to respond to issues and risks.”

The matrix communication environments in which IBAS requirements are obtained include data sourced from DLA, United States Navy’s Product Data Reporting and Evaluation Program and United States Army’s Logistics Support Activity. This multi-source data capture ensures that the customer receives accurate information concerning their entire spectrum of items and programs.

The system screenshots at left display a snapshot of the configurability a customer has within IBAS.

“While the JPEO-CBD’s Joint Project Managers prefer to view equipment data using the commodity dashboard display, other offices within JPEO-CBD prefer a different screen configuration,” Beck said. “The system’s flexibility allows the information to be tailored to a customer’s preference with a click of the mouse button.”

“Usability is critical to application development, and the user’s experience is foremost in delivering timely information for decision support. If the system is not intuitive, then it will not be used, and the valuable information provided through the IB, assessments, studies and research becomes inconsequential,” Beck said.
Other IBAS system features include status alerts, fact sheets and numerous data elements relative to the equipment and manufacturer.

Hoover and Beck agree that customer satisfaction is the foundation blocks to their teams’ success; and interagency collaboration contributes to the IB team’s continuous improvement efforts. In order to improve processes, the IB team participates in program reviews to discuss future programs, evaluates IB research requirements and consults with customers regarding information technology solutions.

Partnering with their customers is an important aspect to ECBC-RI’s overall IB Program strategy, because the IB analysis and information management requirements continually evolve. These partnerships allow the teams to capture new requirements and modify existing systems and capabilities to better meet customer needs while providing an opportunity to increase our customer base.

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