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CHIPS Articles: NIWC Atlantic Launches Employee-Led Innovation Program

NIWC Atlantic Launches Employee-Led Innovation Program
By Jerry Sekerak, Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic - December 10, 2020
Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic’s Corporate Operations team is leveraging their Innovate to Excel (I2E) program to improve services and reduce inefficiencies across the command.

The program is modeled after an innovation program developed by NIWC Atlantic’s finance team in 2019, designed to streamline or automate processes or procedures to increase the quality of a product or service.

Similarly, Corporate Operations employees now have the opportunity twice a year through I2E to share ideas that fix a problem or improve a process.

The program allows employees to submit an idea that accomplishes one or more of the following: reduce the time and/or level of effort to accomplish a task; reduce the number of steps to complete a task; reduce rework; automate a process or procedure; and/or increase the quality of a product or service.

“At NIWC Atlantic, we want to deliver the best capabilities that support the warfighter and continue to be leaders in information warfare solutions - I2E definitely helps us meet that goal,” said NIWC Atlantic Corporate Operations Director David Monahan.

The Corporate Operations leadership team created the I2E program after holding several planning meetings over the past year in an effort to support and apply the command’s execution plan throughout the competency.

“After leadership simplified the command’s mission statement almost two years ago, we were able to better define our supporting role for the organization, which is to provide expert support services for operational readiness. Our overlying themes, as outlined in the execution plan, align with our strategic priorities: to keep our customers in mind, be transparent, apply discipline through project and risk management practices and embrace innovation, which is what I2E helps us accomplish,” said Monahan.

The Corporate Operations leadership team introduced I2E to NIWC Atlantic employees earlier this year and invited them to contribute.

“We want employees to share ideas – big and small,” said NIWC Atlantic Corporate Operations Deputy Director and I2E Program Manager Pam Bell. “In fact, sometimes it’s the little improvements that make getting through your work tasks a little easier. However, when we multiply that across the number of potential users, the impact can be huge!”

Every six months, the program incentivizes participation and provides various levels of monetary prizes for first, second and third place each time submissions are solicited.

One recent winning I2E example involved the suggestion to update and streamline Business Objects (BOBJ) access requirements and serves as the command business intelligence (BI) tool and the front end to a data warehouse of information from many data sources. The standard reports contained within BOBJ are the result of user requirements across all areas of business, and can be used as-is, or with customization to meet individual needs.

Until competency leaders implemented the BOBJ suggestion, personnel were attending 24 to 48 hours of Navy instructor-led training to obtain access to BOBJ reports. As a result of the idea being adopted, the team reworked roles associated with each BOBJ access type, significantly reducing associated training requirements. That move ultimately saved time and level of effort for accounts management, supervisors, employees and Navy Enterprise Resource Planning (N-ERP) instructors.

“Every day we have the opportunity to come up with a new and better way to get things done. Employees at NIWC Atlantic are leading the way with their own ideas, and ultimately helping out the collective workforce, and in turn, our customers and the warfighter,” said Bell.

As a part of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, NIWC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment, and sustainment of interoperable command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, cyber and information technology capabilities.

Innovate to Excel (I2E) graphic by Wendy M. Jamieson / NIWC Atlantic
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