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TMCNet:  DLA Information Operation's 'Front Door' Key To New Capabilities

[June 18, 2014]

DLA Information Operation's 'Front Door' Key To New Capabilities

(Targeted News Service Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) WASHINGTON, June 18 -- The U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Logistics Agency issued the following news: Defense Logistics Agency Information Operations' process to request new information technology requirements is a critical part of the organization's innovation efforts, Chief Information Officer Kathy Cutler said.


Known as the J6 "Front Door," the process helps manage requests for things such as equipment or software not already in use by DLA or enhancements to existing software.

"The Front Door process ensures we apply the right solution to the requirement," said Bruce Paton, DLA's chief technology officer. "Our customers know the requirement, but they don't always know about some of the current capabilities that are available. Bringing requirements through the Front Door allows us to match the requirement to what's currently available - both inside and outside DLA - so that we're investing wisely and making sure we're finding the right solution to meet the requirement." Before the current Front Door process was initiated, requests for new software or processes often happened in a vacuum, which meant that while one section or team benefitted from innovation, others might not. It also meant that similar requirements were too often filled by a plethora of disparate solutions. And ideas were submitted without any formal vetting process before they reached the Front Door, officials said.

"The biggest change in the process for those submitting ideas is that their idea must be vetted and approved by the process owner and their business cycle owner (usually the 'J code' directorate's director or deputy director) before being submitted to the Front Door," said Lora Conrad, chief of the J6 IT Front Door team.

This requirement has not slowed the rate of submissions, which is good, said Conrad.

"We want good ideas," she said. "And we also want to see if that good idea can apply across the enterprise, so the idea only has to be submitted once instead of having it submitted many times by different sites." Once an idea has been approved by the process and business cycle owners, it's submitted through the Front Door. Conrad's team members first ensure they understand the requirement, which can involve some back and forth with the submitter. They then compare the requirement with existing capabilities on the IT Solutions Document - a comprehensive list of current software and hardware solutions currently used in DLA - to see if anything currently in the inventory will satisfy the requirement.

Conrad's team also reaches out to other sections within J6 to ensure, among other things, that their proposed solution doesn't present security or networking issues. With all of the research and internal vetting Conrad's team does, the process still only takes about a month on average, she said. DLA Information Operations leaders feel it's a month well-spent.

"The most important role the Front Door plays is to make sure we're investing wisely, but at the same time to make sure that we're finding the right solution for the requirement," Paton said. "It helps us to better focus on those innovations that will have the greatest impact on the Enterprise as a whole." That focus is critical in a time of ever shrinking budgets, Paton said.

"We can't just go off and do things without an eye toward making sure we're fully leveraging things we've already invested in, making sure we're investing in things that can apply across the Enterprise, and making sure we're investing in things that make sense for DLA," he said.

It's not just innovation, it's smart innovation, Cutler said.

"We may have a finite amount of investment dollars, but we still maintain our quest for innovative ways to do business and better serve our customers," she said. "I encourage the DLA team to keep sending us their great ideas. Our Front Door process will, in turn, ensure the best of those ideas with the greatest value to DLA will rise to the top and get implemented." TNS 30FurigayJane-140618-4770395 30FurigayJane (c) 2014 Targeted News Service

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