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DVIDS – News – NIWC Atlantic Command Information Office Advances Automation Efficiencies


Teams from Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic’s Command Information Office (CmdIO) collaborated with various champions and stakeholders over the past year to advance automation efficiencies improving business operations for the workforce.

The CmdIO teams implemented 17 digitization, workflow and automation applications as a part of their intelligent automation strategy. These applications, which reflect numerous efficiencies, are the efforts of CmdIO’s cross-functional teams that work together to lead the production of high value business applications and improvements throughout the command.

“These new applications and improvements span an estimated scope of 20,000 actions per year in multiple process areas. That in itself is a lot of digital actions that will drive further improvements across our command, enable more automation, allow us to do more analytics and ultimately achieve more efficiencies,” said NIWC Atlantic Command Information Officer Sabrina Lemire.

The command also instituted five bots — software programs that perform automated, repetitive, pre-defined tasks — with three more bots and another application on the way soon.

The ongoing effort involves the teams overcoming challenges and working collaboratively with the workforce and business champions to achieve their goal of increasing efficiencies.

“This is a team lift, it’s an everybody-in-the-command thing, not just an IT [information technology] thing, to improve our processes, tools and data.” said Lemire.

The first key pillar of CmdIO involves the process and requirements team, made up of business analysts each assigned to a specific value stream for a given business area. This allows for the analysts to understand the holistic, big picture of the business area to help avoid sub-optimization of processes during process re-engineering efforts. The analysts engage with command stakeholders and business champions to make sure the entire CmdIO team is meeting the needs and outcomes for the command to produce value. They leverage the best practices of user-centered design, use-case development, and business and process modeling to serve as requirements for the needed change initiatives.

The process and requirements team guides requirements to the second pillar — the tools team — which is responsible for creating and maintaining software applications used by everyone for business support.

The third pillar involves the data team, which provides support in the form of guidance, standards and laying out architecture for command data and analytics.

“The data team not only supports the input to our requirements group so we can best understand how data will flow through those process pipes, they also support the standards and guidance on workflow outputs, yielding higher fidelity data analytics,” said Adam Tyson, NIWC Atlantic command data officer.

Another key aspect of digitization, automation and overall improvements is the governance, or change management, that’s associated with it, which according to Lemire, is a key component to making the continuous modernization and improvement “machine” function.

The governance covers the holistic picture when it comes to command process, tools and data changes. It allows the CmdIO team to align to overarching strategies and enterprise solutions across the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of the Navy, as well as to look at the impacts of changes to areas like development, training and communication needed to make the improvement successful.

The bulk of these changes impact the command’s supporting competencies, such as the finance, procurements and corporate operations groups, among others, which have many command-level processes, tools and data that fall under this governance.

Some of the recent significant changes developed by the CmdIO team currently being used by NIWC Atlantic employees include the Scalable Workflow Automation Tool (SWAT), which contains several former legacy business software applications or disparate PDF forms and spreadsheets that were modernized and made more efficient through various re-engineering and automation efforts.

Key automations deployed to date in this SWAT commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) platform include:

The command awards application, which facilitates collaborative creation and processing of award nominations through needed approvals and provides a streamlined and efficient way for the awards program office to perform administrative awards tasks like Office of Civilian Human Resources processing, financial processing and fiscal year awards budget management;

The employee check-in/check-out application, a tool that helps streamline the process to check-in/check-out an employee to/from the command, which includes personnel security and information assurance activities; telephone and space allocation; asset requests, and distribution and accounts creation; and

The Mid-Career Leadership Program electronic application, which helps streamline the application process for an employee who is approved to apply for the program.

All of these tools reflect an intelligent automation vision, a central strategy of NIWC Atlantic’s CmdIO that is focused around constant automation, leveraging multiple technologies, tools and platforms. Based on the need, elements of digitization, business process management, decision and task automation, robotic process automation, and eventually artificial intelligence and machine learning, work together to orchestrate across value streams of processes. This approach is ultimately expected to lead to the command goal of an advanced form of automation called hyper-automation.

“We are enabling an efficient and streamlined workplace that allows our command to deliver products more expeditiously,” said Lemire. “These things help us remove legacy systems and paper, and enable automation and the connection of ‘data dots’ across the command. By connecting those data dots and digitizing things, we are laying the foundation to enable an environment for machine learning and artificial intelligence around our business processes.”

Using a multifaceted approach with quality underlying data to drive it all, the CmdIO team is also working to achieve automation efficiencies through research, development and testing. One of those efforts involves the transition from a pilot development and testing program towards an operational Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS).

IWMS is designed to consolidate several tools and manual processes for the command facilities team to make it easier and more efficient to conduct space management functions like assignment and reservations, facilities maintenance management, and facilities planning and execution.

“This initially began as a pilot efficiency effort with NIWC Pacific and CmdIO. However, the NIWC Atlantic facilities team have worked over the last couple of years to transition it into a fully authorized environment, with development and testing instances that will help us further expand capabilities,” said Cory Rogers, software services IPT Lead. “We are currently working with NIWC Pacific and have migrated them out of their pilot environment so we can cost-share and also enable some consolidation of these enterprise tools.”

To derive actionable intelligence from this data digitization, automation and modernization, as well as to align to naval enterprise IT strategies, the data and analytics pillar of the CmdIO team is working to stand down Data Warehouse Business Intelligence Systems (DWBIS), a command level data warehouse capability, and move it to the Navy’s data and analytics platform – an effort the team began last year.

“Last fiscal year we developed multiple pilots to prove out the feasibility of moving DWBIS and our business intelligence and analytics products. We are now moving away from pilots and will start the full migration, ensuring each product will be at production quality when delivered,” said Tyson.  

According to Tyson, the migration protects the data in DWBIS, supports multiple command initiatives, and provides NIWC Atlantic and Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) high quality, reliable decision-ready data leveraging storage and Navy enterprise IT tools without the need to stand up and support NIWC Atlantic-specific data warehouse and business intelligence tools. It also conforms with Project CattleDrive, the Navy CIO’s IT reduction efforts, and with Project Supernova, the Navy Command Data Officer’s data deduplication efforts.

These intelligent automation and modernization activities within CmdIO enable rapid delivery of naval products and services by meeting user needs, understanding the user experience and driving efficiency through continuous improvement.

“We really want to make everyone’s workday more joyful by making our processes easier and more efficient, and by not having to ‘swivel-chair’ between tools,” said Lemire. “We want to engage and get more folks across the command involved and understand our processes from various perspectives. This is really how we receive, develop and implement diverse and innovative ideas.”

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.







Date Taken: 01.19.2022
Date Posted: 01.19.2022 16:38
Story ID: 413109
Location: CHARLESTON, SC, US 





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