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CHIPS Articles: Transformation through Lean Six Sigma

Transformation through Lean Six Sigma
By Mike LeValley and Lois Fairclough, Office of the DON CIO - July-September 2007
The Secretary of the Navy and Deputy Secretary of Defense place great importance on making the Department of Defense and Department of the Navy (DON) "Lean" organizations. To this end, the DON is committed to enterprise transformation and continuous process improvement through Lean Six Sigma (LSS) activities.

Lean is defined as a systematic methodology for continuous process improvement based on the principles of customer value, waste elimination and pursuit of process perfection. Lean is unique from traditional process improvement strategies in that its primary focus is on eliminating non-value added activities, or waste, which can be caused by over-processing, wait-time, over-production, transportation, unnecessary handling or motion, excess inventory or defects. A major result of Lean is an improvement in cycle time.

Six Sigma is defined as a systematic methodology for process improvement that focuses on reducing variation, producing highly repeatable processes and creating customer satisfaction. Six Sigma uses the Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC) methodology to make process change through disciplined use of facts, data, statistical analysis and control of existing processes. It also includes an understanding of customer needs and diligent attention to managing, improving and reinventing business processes.

Applied together, LSS provides a method for process improvement, focusing on removing barriers and non value-added process steps, thus providing better support to the people doing the work.

To institute Lean Six Sigma initiatives in the DON and provide an executive level forum for LSS reporting, Secretary Winter established the Transformation Team Leaders. A Special Assistant for Lean Six Sigma, Mr. Nick Kunesh, was selected to lead the Transformation Team Leaders, consisting of the Deputy Assistant Secretaries of the Navy, senior DON leadership who report directly to the secretary, and the Marine Corps major subordinate and Navy echelon II commands.

Transformation Team Leaders established working groups to provide guidance and direction on LSS issues that were common across the DON including training, standardization, scalability and knowledge sharing. An education working group is focusing on a common training curriculum for Champions, Green Belts, Black Belts and Master Black Belts.

A tools working group is ensuring that a common toolkit is available for all DON Green Belts, Black Belts and Master Black Belts to facilitate process mapping and modeling; cause and effect analysis; statistical data capture and analysis; identification of constraints; and performance maximizations.

A financial working group is composing a method to capture, report and reprogram savings and cost avoidance data resulting from process improvements. A communications working group is promoting information sharing and lessons learned.

To fully implement Lean Six Sigma initiatives, a team within the DON Chief Information Officer (CIO), led by Mr. Mike LeValley, with LSS subject matter expert support by Ms. Lois Fairclough and Ms. Joanne Wills, developed a training program that took advantage of numerous Lean Six Sigma training opportunities within the DON. The training included the Secretary of the Navy's Executive Champion and Green Belt classes; Naval Sea Systems Command's LSS College Champion, Green Belt and Black Belt classes; and Naval Air Systems Command's Black Belt classes.

Armed with LSS-trained team members (20 Champions, 22 Green Belts and two soon-to-be Black Belts), the DON CIO has built project portfolios that align to the Secretary of the Navy's goals. The DON CIO conducted a rigorous project selection and identified 15 processes for improvement that relate to the goals of the DON Information Management (IM) and Information Technology (IT) Strategic Plan for FY 2006–2007.

The DON CIO Lean Six Sigma portfolio was approved by the Secretary of the Navy in October 2006 and the DON CIO has taken the lead, applying LSS principles to several processes this year. Each trained DON CIO Green Belt is mapped to a specific project team in the portfolio. Projects include DON Pre-Certification required by the Defense Business Systems Management Committee (DBSMC) processes. The goal of this project is to improve the efficiency and quality of the DON pre-certification process and packages. IT development and modernization efforts in excess of $1 million and special interest items must be approved by the DBSMC before program managers can obligate funds.

The DON CIO pre-certifies these requests before DBSMC approval; therefore, the review process must be done as efficiently as possible to prevent schedule disruptions. In 2006, 87 percent of the packages took longer than seven days to complete. Projected outcomes include the reduction of pre-certification package rework so that they are efficiently reviewed and approved, resulting in the timely obligation of funds and an increased number of packages processed in less than seven days.

Another project involves the reporting process for annual information assurance (IA) training. The DON CIO is responsible for ensuring agency compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and reports annually on the completion of IA awareness training. User training is crucial to securing DON networks, information and information systems. The DON requires completion of annual IA awareness training by 96 percent of personnel (military, civilians and contractors) by September each year.

Projected outcomes of this project include new policy and guidance that describes procedures, methods of training and responsibilities to enable a streamlined, improved reporting process to ensure the DON meets its 96 percent goal.

The goal of the DON Application and Database Management System (DADMS) Requirements Implementation Process project is to design and implement an improved process to ensure that fielded capabilities meet or exceed customer requirements. This LSS project team consists primarily of users that have participated in the process of requesting changes to DADMS and includes members of the DADMS Configuration Control Board. The project team has defined, measured and analyzed the existing requirements process for DADMS and has identified problems and their root causes. The next steps are to create an improved process that removes those root causes and provides controls and metrics for continued process improvement.

The Spectrum Supportability Process project goal is to improve the process to verify that spectrum-dependent equipment going into theater can be supported.

The Defense Department is rapidly procuring spectrum-dependent systems and equipment to support ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In some cases, these systems have interfered with critical spectrum-dependent systems already in use due to unidentified or insufficient technical characteristics of the new equipment. Therefore, it is essential to develop and use an abbreviated process that identifies and provides the minimum technical characteristics required. This will reduce the amount of deployed equipment that is rendered unusable, causes interference or is accommodated at the expense of the full operability of other equipment.

Other projects slated to begin in fiscal year 2008 include: Clinger Cohen Act Confirmation/Certification for improvement of confirmation and certification of ACAT I and II systems; Enterprise Software Licensing Process to improve and accelerate the process to identify, develop, fund and deploy enterprise software licensing agreements; and Enterprise Telecommunications Management to improve the process to acquire and manage the DON’s telecommunications assets.

Additionally, the DON CIO and Program Manager, Navy Marine Corps Intranet are co-sponsoring a Secretary of the Navy project called, LSS Software Distribution Process Improvement. This project originated with the requirement by the Transformation Team Leaders Tools Working Group for software needed by DON Black Belts and Green Belts to be expeditiously deployed on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

This project focuses on the NMCI contract line item, CLIN 5000, the Functional Area Manager approval process and includes using the DoD’s Enterprise Software Initiative to speed software delivery.

To eliminate the possibility of duplicative IM and IT Lean Six Sigma activities occurring in the Navy and Marine Corps, the DON CIO is establishing a common reporting process and knowledge baseline of CIO-led Lean Six Sigma projects. It will leverage previously achieved accomplishments, lessons learned and replication opportunities, and ensure alignment within the DON Lean Six Sigma IM and IT activities.

To learn more about these and other DON LSS activities related to IM and IT, please see the resources listed below.

•The Deputy Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy Memoranda can be found on the DON CIO Web site at Search for “Lean Six Sigma."
• Deputy Secretary of Defense Memo, DoD-Wide Continuous Process Improvement (CPI)/Lean Six Sigma (LSS), April 30, 2007.
• Secretary of the Navy Memo, Transformation Through Lean Six Sigma, May 3, 2006.
• Secretary of the Navy Memo, Transformation Through Lean Six Sigma – Round One, Aug. 15, 2006.

The DADMS Requirements and Implementation Process Improvement Team.
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