|Feedback, Follow-up and Accountability||https://www.dau.mil/library/defense-atl/Lists/Blog/DispForm.aspx?ID=92||Feedback, Follow-up and Accountability||2018-09-01T16:00:00Z||https://wwwad.dauext.dau.mil/library/defense-atl/PublishingImages/DefAcqSept-Oct18_banner3.jpg, https://www.dau.mil/library/defense-atl/PublishingImages/DefAcqSept-Oct18_banner3.jpg
https://wwwad.dauext.dau.mil/library/defense-atl/PublishingImages/DefAcqSept-Oct18_banner3.jpg||<div class="ExternalClass9D155C808D1D4045A0913805C71C5E1F">The Department of Defense (DoD) needs feedback, follow-up and accountability in its acquisition programs so that it can effectively execute its strategic plans. But what do those terms mean, how is each attained and how do we know when they are?<br>
Most people already know The Three Musketeers, and everybody knows the Three Stooges. Both have been the source of unique management approaches for many years. Or at least, it sure looks that way sometimes.<br>
Below are some thoughts and excerpts from a book I wrote titled Fixes That Last—The Executive’s Guide to Fix It or Lose It Management. It was written for the private sector but has the same applicability to program managers and other DoD acquisition management professionals.
Feedback is communication (in whatever form) that you receive regarding something that your organization plans to do or already has done. It is an indispensable part of the decision-making process—whether in strategic planning or in day-to-day operations. Ideally, feedback means continuous information on performance against accepted standards.<br>
However, before you can expect meaningful feedback, think about the following:<br>
Your feedback requirements should be clearly stated, in writing. Whatever you want done may not get done, if there is no feedback system. Ensure therefore, that feedback mechanisms exist. If there is no established feedback system, you will need to create something, even if it’s only temporary.<br>
Feedback is a two-way street; all stakeholders need to know the findings of the feedback process as much as you do, so make sure that they stay informed. Be alert for unexpected obstacles or surprises.<br>
Additionally, feedback, because of its content, may soon become obsolete. You need to get it quickly, and you may have to go out and collect it in person. Personal observation has a history of thousands of years in both management and in the military and is always a good choice. It has been said that, “The greatest fertilizer is the footprint of the overseer.”<br>
Meaningful feedback, in whatever form, must flow unimpeded in both directions. Feedback can be formal or informal, written or unwritten. It also may be a combination of all four methods, since it is usually best to document communication about important subjects.<br>
Whenever possible, written feedback should have its own internal documentation and reference authority, to be both credible and useful. Long-term planning suffers when feedback becomes a deluge of unsubstantiated opinions, beliefs and prejudices.<br>
Meaningless feedback includes statements such as I don’t like it; it’s all messed up; we’ve never tried it before; or we have tried it (or something like it) before and it didn’t work.<br>
Meaningless (and sometimes nasty) feedback with no basis in evidence squanders time, depletes enthusiasm, and can really sabotage your program. You should encourage open (but finite) discussion and dissention. Dissenters should be welcomed, but they need to provide solid, replicable evidence to support their dissention; the more quantifiable, the better.<br>
Similarly, positive feedback should also include hard facts and objectivity. Whenever possible, metrics that characterize both the old and new processes (e.g., gallons of water saved) should be included to better communicate the new process’ impact on the organization.<br>
Informal, oral or otherwise unsubstantiated communication and feedback also opens the door to “perception” and causes us to screen or filter what we thought was said, to come up with something partly or entirely wrong.<br>
Requiring a formal and quantifiable feedback process denies people the pleasure of suffering in silence, complaining, or just going with the flow. Mandated feedback also is a guaranteed source of two-way communication. All stakeholders need to know and understand what is going on—and, if they don’t, they should ask. If they have it wrong, you need to straighten them out.<br>
Knowing how to communicate, and even being able to do it eloquently, does not guarantee that your message will get across to everyone whom you intend to get it. Obtain feedback in more than one form and from more than one source. Establish multiple communications channels. Personally observe or interact by talking to people to see how the message was received. Determine the sensitivity of those who will receive your message. Lastly, reinforce words with actions or presentations, if necessary.<br>
Decision makers, both military and civilian, need to apply metrics and measures of effectiveness to all areas of their operations, to meaningfully quantify:
<li>Information collection and dissemination</li>
<li>Risk, vulnerability and the allocation of limited resources</li>
<li>Optimal data collection and reporting procedures</li>
<li>Implementation status of goals and objectives</li>
<li>Alternative courses of action</li>
<li>Situational awareness (internal and external)</li>
<h3>Subjective and Objective Metrics</h3>
Metrics can be either subjective (i.e., conclusions based on observations, experience and judgment) or objective (based on collected data).The tables that follow describe core subjective and objective metrics used to measure the potential effectiveness of operations.
<h3>Benchmarking and Gap Analysis</h3>
Originally, benchmarking meant finding a “best practice” in another organization and comparing it with the same process in your organization. This is not incorrect, and certainly not unnecessary. However, the intent of this paper is to help you get focused within your organization. This is internal benchmarking and is discussed below.<br>
Industrial engineers often conduct variance analyses, or tests for significant differences between several mean values. This is (happily) not what we are talking about. For our purposes, gap analysis is the product of auditing the organization or specific processes (perhaps with the checklists). The analysis provides general indicators and not hard figures. You will be measuring gaps between what is expected and the actual conditions.<br>
The next step after identifying the vulnerabilities is to measure their magnitude against an accepted standard or reference, then determine the “gap” between the desired and the existing. This is gap analysis (Figure 1).<br>
Having identified the gap (and the associated metrics), we can then proceed to the gap analysis, to determine if there is a gap or a difference between what could be reasonably expected and what actually occurs, plus where, specifically, is the gap (i.e., what area or process), what can be done to close the gap, and whether the corrective action is reasonable, cost effective, appropriate, legal, and ethical.<br>
<img alt="" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Sept-Oct2018/DefAcq_SeptOct2018_Article3_Figure1.jpg" style="width:394px;height:316px;margin-left:3px;margin-right:3px;float:right;" /><br>
<strong>Internal Benchmarking </strong><br>
Internal benchmarking examines your own activities, taking place inside your walls. Areas always ready (and in need of) internal benchmarking include but are not limited to:
<li>Manufacturing and material handling processes</li>
<li>Training and qualification</li>
<li>Costs of operations</li>
<li>Inventory levels and stock turnover</li>
<li>Waste, work in progress, reject rates</li>
<li>Other work sites in the same organization (as applicable)</li>
<strong><img alt="" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Sept-Oct2018/DefAcq_SeptOct2018_Article3_Table1-2.jpg" style="margin-left:3px;margin-right:3px;width:381px;height:788px;float:right;" />External Benchmarking</strong>
<li>External benchmarking can include (among other things):</li>
<li>Customer satisfaction (on-time delivery, reliability/defect reports, etc.)</li>
<li>Recommendations from external consultants and auditors</li>
<li>Annual reports of other companies</li>
<li>ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 9000, ISO 14000, and other international standards</li>
<li>Tabletop exercises, seminars and workshops</li>
Like feedback, follow-up is vital to an organization’s survival and success. It also takes some explaining. The first thing to explain is the difference between feedback and follow-up, and why the two terms are not interchangeable. For our purposes, feedback is needed before and during the implementation, whereas follow-up comes afterward. Both are essential and a valiant attempt to do one does not obviate the need for the other. It is very annoying to find something in the follow-up stage that could have (and should have) been found during the feedback stage.<br>
Follow-up means (among other things) checking on the success or failure of a process implemented, a process changed, an order given, or some other modification done with thought to making something better or, in some way, adding value. For instance, a process modification developed to solve a quality issue on the factory floor, could result in one of the following:
<li>No measurable change to the product</li>
<li>Further product degradation (you made it worse, you dope!)</li>
<li>Improvement, but not enough to justify the added effort or expense</li>
<li>Significant (measurable) product improvement, in accordance with the modification strategy, and worth the added effort or expense</li>
Some authors discuss follow-up as a one-time process, with an outsider (or team of outsiders) selected to conduct it, and then only after a rigorous selection process. I would suggest that this is not what you are interested in. You most likely will need to do your follow-up internally. Besides being faster and cheaper, it will serve all your purposes, and show the stakeholders that you are capable of identifying and correcting your own problems.<br>
You do need, however, to ensure that your follow-up processes include (at a minimum) the following:
<li>Comparing the actual performance of the implemented system or process with not only the past, but what was expected</li>
<li>Verifying that specifications, designs, etc., were fully implemented as planned</li>
<li>Assessing the possibility of further (i.e., continuous) improvement. The process, however successful or efficient, should never be thought of as “frozen.” Rather, it should remain subject to continuous review and improvement.</li>
<li>Documenting fully the follow-up process thus far and for the future</li>
You also need to know if your people are resisting the changes implemented. Their good reasons can be reflected in subsequent changes to the process.<br>
The ISO 9000 requires that changes to processes be fully documented, and include documentation that follow-up was scheduled and conducted and that the findings were compared with process findings prior to the change. In other words, “Did it do what we wanted or do we need to try something else?”<br>
You change a process to add value to it. It is only by following up that you find out whether the change did any measurable good or in some way added value.
Webster defines “accountability” as “having to report to, explain, justify; being responsible, answerable.” Early management textbooks and courses routinely linked authority with responsibility, stating that one cannot exist without the other. Unfortunately, accountability was not always included.<br>
Here are basic definitions to help explain the three relative to each other:
<li>Authority is right of an individual to make the necessary decisions or take the necessary action required to achieve the objectives.</li>
<li>Responsibility is the obligation for completion of the objectives.</li>
<li>Accountability is the acceptance of the success or failure to achieve the objectives. It often carries with it positive (e.g., promotion) or negative (e.g., termination) recognition for the success or failure.</li>
Heavy thinkers believe that responsibility and accountability are synonymous, and that separating the two causes unnecessary formality and confusion. They state (not inappropriately) that accepting responsibility for a project creates an obligation to perform and therefore an implicit answerability or accountability. Another thought is that responsibility does not automatically include accountability, because accountability involves a third party—someone above the responsible manager to whom he or she must give an accounting. Both positions are simple, obvious and too often ignored. I recommend that accountability be considered separately, ensuring that when an objective is assigned, authority, responsibility and accountability are obvious, stated, realistic and measurable.<br>
Accountability, as a separate but related concept, can’t be talked about too much, especially in these days of unbridled greed and arrogance seemingly running amok. ENRON, Fannie Mae, Volkswagen, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Bernie Madoff are names that have scandalized 200 years of responsible management, not to mention 2,000 years of the philosophy of ethics. They underscore the need to hold decision makers and their superiors accountable when predictable catastrophes take place and/or innocent people are hurt.<br>
Most (but not all) people in positions of leadership and responsibility understand their attendant accountability. Ships’ captains understand that they are in command but that accountability to higher authority comes with the job and is, as it should be, inescapable.
<h3>Accountability of “Teams”</h3>
Can the same be said about the accountability of teams and the individual members of those teams? Are they accountable as individuals, or are they safe to do (or not do) whatever they want?<br>
When I was a management student in the early 1960s, “middle management” was both the focus of the training and the prize most sought after. Now, it seems that you have to aim to get on a team, much as a congressman aims to get a good committee assignment.<br>
Middle management, once the backbone of (and launching pad for) an industrious America, is being replaced by teams of every shape and description. Middle managers once were held accountable for the success or failure of their organizations for two excellent reasons: that was how the work got done, and that was also how middle managers got to be top managers.<br>
Today, teams populate the landscape as middle managers are down-sized or marginalized. Consultants come out of the woodwork, cover conference room walls with butcher paper, and “empower” teams by eviscerating managers and management. If you are going this route, good luck. Just be sure that the teams have the same authority, responsibility and accountability that the middle managers had.<br>
I once attended a “cross-functional team” meeting with a (Navy) client, where Churchill-like oratory flowed but little got done because the poor bastard at the head of the table had no authority to task the members, who, in turn, felt no responsibility or accountability for doing what was tasked. It wasn’t pretty. Sound familiar?
Well, there they are: feedback, follow-up and accountability—as simple as I can make them. Whether they resemble the Three Musketeers (“All for One and One for All!”) or the Three Stooges (“Spread out!”) in your command or program is up to you.
<hr />Razzetti is a retired Navy captain, management consultant, auditor, and military analyst. He is the author of five management books, including “Fixes That Last—The Executive’s Guide to Fix It or Lose It Management.”<br>
The author can be contacted at <a class="ak-cke-href" href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.</div>||string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/Feedback,-Follow-up-and-Accountability|
|Increasing Audit Readiness||https://www.dau.mil/library/defense-atl/Lists/Blog/DispForm.aspx?ID=93||Increasing Audit Readiness||2018-09-01T16:00:00Z||https://wwwad.dauext.dau.mil/library/defense-atl/PublishingImages/DefAcqSept-Oct18_banner4.jpg, https://www.dau.mil/library/defense-atl/PublishingImages/DefAcqSept-Oct18_banner4.jpg
https://wwwad.dauext.dau.mil/library/defense-atl/PublishingImages/DefAcqSept-Oct18_banner4.jpg||<div class="ExternalClass1943F82696F24171B436474C5D8FBFE0">A key component of audit readiness is investment in human capital through work-force training. There were lessons learned from the observations and experiences of a Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) National Functional Training Lead (NFTL) who developed and managed related training both during the conversion of Operating Materials and Supplies (OM&S) from legacy material management systems to an approved Accountable Property System of Record (APSR) and into sustainment. Those lessons are examples of best business practices that can be leveraged by other Department of Defense (DoD) components working toward audit readiness.<br>
NAVAIR’s best practices include the creation of role-based curriculums, use of gap analysis, compilation of student reference materials and collaboration with other subject-matter experts (SMEs). Both online and offline resources were developed to provide support for and deliver ongoing support to end users after training.
<h3>Requirement for Audit Readiness</h3>
The Secretary of Defense issued a memo titled “Improving Financial Information and Achieving Audit Readiness” in response to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2010, Section 1003 that said auditable financial statements were necessary to facilitate decision making and to ensure NDAA compliance while informing the public that DoD is a good steward of taxpayer dollars. NAVAIR designated Navy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) as the primary APSR for management of NAVAIR’s OM&S in October 2014 and directed program managers and accountable property officers (APOs) to ensure compliance. Senior Leadership then stood up the Audit Ready Inventory Team (ARIT) to facilitate and standardize APSR conversion throughout the Command. NFTLs supporting ARIT evaluated existing training constructs and developed new materials and processes to improve training efficacy.
The first step in the NFTL evaluation process was to review existing instructor-led training (ILT) materials. These consisted of eight role-based training programs covering warehouse management, materiel management, and two methods of conducting physical inventories—each from a supervisory and non-supervisory perspective. Upon completing a role-based ILT course, end-users are granted access to job specific transaction codes and authorized to operate in Navy ERP. The NFTL merged the supervisory and non-supervisory trainings for both physical inventory curriculums. Teaching supervisors and non-supervisors together increases students’ understanding of their roles and responsibilities in the overall physical inventory process. End-user certification time was reduced by 2 days as a result of condensing training from eight to six classes. These training packages were compared with those from other Commands to ensure consistency throughout the Department of the Navy. Incorporating audit requirements and new policies produced the first authentic NAVAIR-specific curriculum for Navy ERP material management.<br>
A gap analysis compiled and analyzed a list of more than 180 transaction codes used for inventory and warehouse management in Navy ERP. The analysis was used to determine which transaction codes lacked end-user training material, such as videos or desk guides, and to prioritize the creation of supplemental materials for each transaction code. The gap analysis was also used to identify the appropriate training materials to be included within the ILT curriculum.
<h3>Videos and Desk Guides</h3>
NFTLs collaborated with a contractor to develop more than 100 videos and desk guides specifically tailored for the NAVAIR material management user community. The videos include open captioning and are intended to be played during end-users transactions in Navy ERP. Videos and desk guides were reviewed and revised by the NAVAIR ERP Business Office and the OM&S Branch (AIR 18.104.22.168) to ensure consistency and policy compliance.
In addition to the videos and desk guides, a guidebook was created to provide the end-user with over-arching, standardized processes across the NAVAIR enterprise. The NAVAIR Property Guidebook (NPG) provides Material Managers with a user-friendly reference document for the procurement and management of OM&S. The NFTLs, in collaboration with AIR 22.214.171.124 SMEs, developed and co-authored the “Manage-It-Right” section that includes scenarios covering the management of OM&S materiel from initial receipt to disposal. The NPG, representing current best practices for NAVAIR, is undergoing the final internal review process prior to publication. Once approved for dissemination, the NPG will be made available across the NAVAIR ERP community via a Web-based platform—SharePoint.
SharePoint is the common document management and storage system used by NAVAIR. The NFTL collaborated with the SharePoint Administrator to create the AIR 6.0 Navy ERP Training page that permits users to access training material as needed. It visually incorporates the overarching business process concepts of the NPG to provide cross-platform consistency. SharePoint provides users with access via interactive links to ILT course materials, desk guides and unique how-to videos, standard work packages, DoD instructions and NAVAIR policy. SharePoint also will be used to gather usage data and provide a user feedback mechanism regarding the perceived value of the training materials to facilitate future improvements.
The NFTL created a monthly forum to communicate pertinent issues directly to the material managers. This recurring meeting provides a means to socialize applicable information and create a collaborative network across the enterprise. The monthly forum is a continuous venue to share any roadblocks or success stories from the various sites. Additionally, training updates and products have resulted from recommendations made by the warehouse management community.
NAVAIR NFTLs are successfully mitigating the risks of the significant structural and cultural changes caused by becoming audit ready. Although much work remains to be accomplished, NAVAIR has made considerable progress toward improving audit readiness by investing in the training and preparation of its workforce. Just as NAVAIR built on lessons learned from previous conversion training, these best practices can be copied and modified for use throughout the DoD to ensure that holistic, student-focused training is the standard, not the exception, and that Congress’ audit readiness goals are fully achieved. CAPT Timothy Pfannenstein, AIR 6.0B, put it in perspective when he said, “We are expected to be good stewards of our tax dollars. Achieving audit readiness is not only our obligation to the taxpayer; it is simply the right thing to do.”
<hr />Vancelette has been the Naval Air Systems Command National Functional Training Lead for Inventory and Warehouse Management for more than 2 years. Since 2010, she has served in several Navy Commands as a Navy Enterprise Resource Planning Subject‑Matter Expert in Procurement and Material Management. Conroy has been assigned to Defense Acquisition University as a professor of Life Cycle Logistics Management and of Production, Quality and Manufacturing since 2005.<br>
The authors may be contacted through <a class="ak-cke-href" href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a> and <a href="http://dau.mil">William.email@example.com</a>.</div>||string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/Increasing-Audit-Readiness|