BY MATT MORRISON, Office of Corporate Communications, Naval Supply Systems Command
Have you ever had a great idea for work, but didn’t know who to tell? Innovation comes from everywhere, but not all innovative ideas are heard. NAVSUP is challenging that notion.
NAVSUP’s diverse, talented workforce provides superior service and support to the Navy every day. Recognizing its employees’ valuable ideas, NAVSUP set up their new Idea Portal (IP) for employees to submit innovative ideas and new approaches to current processes.
“The IP was a product from the 2016 [Organizational Assessment Survey] innovation working group that looked at ways to assimilate innovation within the NAVSUP culture,” said Ms. Jane McMullen, assistant commander of corporate operations at NAVSUP Headquarters. “Employees can leverage the portal to provide ideas directly to the functional subject matter experts (SMEs) for consideration.” The objective of the portal is to foster innovation at NAVSUP by creating an open, visible and formal process, to evaluate ideas for potential implementation, and provide timely feedback to submitters.
“If NAVSUP wants to stay relevant with our customers, innovation will be key to our future success,” said McMullen. “Ultimately, we have to keep up with the surge in technology to commensurate with the private sector.”
How the Idea Portal Works
The goal of the IP is to foster an environment where everyone can submit ideas from transactional level improvements, to transformative innovation, through a process that requires vetting, and the adoption recommendation to be reviewed by leadership through a formal process.
The process is managed by NAVSUP Headquarters N13, where they initially coordinate a submission with the business line or process owner. The submission is then reviewed to see if it requires formal vetting with stakeholders, or if it’s possible to provide an immediate answer. Some submissions can be adopted without the need for vetting; others may be prohibited by a regulation, or should be addressed through a different process or venue.
When it is determined that a submission requires formal vetting, it is assigned through an internal tasker in the NAVSUP Tasker Management System (NTMS) with specific timelines for review and adoption recommendation. The use of NTMS allows for visibility of the tasker and elevates the priority to complete the review of the submission. Once the recommendation for adoption of the submission is completed, it’s briefed at the headquarters weekly staff meeting, which allows for a cross-discussion with all the Assistant Commanders (ACOMs). To date, 20 out of 70 portal submissions have been vetted for feasibility and briefed to headquarters leadership. Good ideas come from everywhere, but if you have a great idea, it may be heard by NAVSUP leadership and adopted. “In their day to day work, I want our employees to make the changes they think are necessary to support the mission, while staying coordinated with those they are connected with upstream and downstream in their processes,” said Mr. Michael Madden, vice commander of NAVSUP. “Having the ability to take control and improve what you do every day is true empowerment.”
Good Ideas are Coming In
Since going live in January 2018, 70 submissions have been entered in the IP. Good ideas come from everywhere, but not all submissions are created equal. When building and submitting an idea, submitters should identify their intended audience, desired outcome, and any resources needed to reach the desired outcome. Submissions must present a clear and concise idea, and provide a proposed solution if one is known. “We already have a number of success stories in the short time since this concept was initiated. For example, we recently implemented the use of scanners at training events to eliminate the long waiting lines for attendees to manually sign in,” said McMullen.
The original idea proposed the implementation of an ID scanner program and equipment to scan personnel’s DoD CAC/ID, rapidly capture attendance, and automatically upload the necessary information directly to the total workforce management system (TWMS), streamlining the check-in process and reducing wait time. Leadership liked the idea and chose to take further action. A continuous process improvement team, comprised of NAVSUP Business Systems Center (BSC) and NAVSUP Headquarters’ employees, dug further into how to implement the scanners for large face-to-face training events. The process captures the required data by scanning employee Common Access Cards as they enter the event. The pulled data is automatically added to the employee’s training record on the MyNAVSUP portal. The work force development team can then pull a training report from the portal and complete a mass upload to TWMS.
“Now, CACs can be scanned directly into a system, cutting the wait times considerably. It’s only been used for one event so far, but the overall feedback from our customers has been very positive,” said McMullen.
As a result of the positive feedback, NAVSUP plans to continue implementing the scanning process during large face-to-face events. The future goal is to send scanners to all NAVSUP commands for use in their training events.
“Sometimes the simplest ideas can have the greatest impact,” said Madden.
An idea currently going through the IP process is a proposed interface between the NAVSUP Funding Document Management (FDM) portal and the NAVSUP Standard Procurement System (SPS), meant to reduce the number of line of accounting (LOA) errors on NAVSUP SPS contracts.
Currently, NAVSUP contracting customers submit requirements directly into the FDM portal. Then NAVSUP comptrollers
validate these requirements for time, and purpose and amount. Once approved, the requirement is sent to the appropriate contracting shop and contracting personnel manually load the requirements into SPS.
The problem is NAVSUP receives close to 60,000 contracting requirements a year through the FDM portal, with numerous errors that typically occur when typing the LOA. The only way to correct this error is via time-consuming contract modifications.
The submitter suggested an interface between FDM and SPS would reduce the manual work necessary for NAVSUP SPS contracts and reduce the number of LOA errors.
NAVSUP ACOM for Contracting (N7) and NAVSUP ACOM for Financial Management / Comptroller (N8) are currently in the early stages of implementing the proposed interface.
The introduction of the IP has given a voice to NAVSUP employees and encourages active listening from leadership.
“While new ideas come from all sources, the intent is to provide an unfiltered mechanism for employees to be heard,” said McMullen.
“In those cases where employees feel they are not being heard, or the ideas they have are so encompassing, the Idea Portal is there for them,” said Madden. “Sometimes it’s one person’s idea coupled with another person’s idea that makes the magic. I encourage employees to share what they think and use the IP.”
The combination of continued leadership support and great ideas from employees keeps NAVSUP at the forefront of innovation and collaboration, helping foster an innovative environment to support our warfighters in our relentless pursuit for customer satisfaction.
HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR IDEAS
The Idea Portal is easily accessible on the MyNAVSUP homepage. To access the portal click on the lightbulb labeled “Ideas” on the top toolbar. On the ideas page, click “Submit an Idea” to go to the portal. On the portal give your idea a title, outline the idea details, and provide any attachments that you feel should accompany your idea. Then select your associated NAVSUP activity and submit. The portal is not intended for work complaints, nor should it be used to ask general questions that are better addressed elsewhere. The site includes sample submissions and specific guidance on how to submit an idea:
- SUBMISSION SHOULD BE ADDRESSED THROUGH THE PORTAL. (DO NOT PUT “PLEASE SEE ATTACHMENT”)
- PRESENT A CLEAR AND CONCISE IDEA OR PROBLEM
- PROVIDE A PROPOSED SOLUTION IF KNOWN OR CREATED
- LIST ALL RESOURCES NEED (I.E. FTES, FUNDING, CONNECTION TO OTHER RESOURCES, ETC.)
- IF DIAGRAMS, CHARTS, OR DRAWINGS WERE CREATED TO EMPHASIZE IDEA/SOLUTION MAKE SURE TO UPLOAD IN THE COVER/OTHER ATTACHMENT
- THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN BUILDING/ SUBMITTING AN IDEA:
- WHO IS YOUR INTENDED AUDIENCE?
- WHAT IS YOUR DESIRED OUTCOME?
- WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO REACH YOUR DESIRED OUTCOME?
If you work outside of the NAVSUP Enterprise, you will need to visit https://www.navsup.navy.mil/registration to access the MyNAVSUP homepage.
Access to secure NAVSUP-owned content, sites, tools, training or systems requires the use of a DoD compliant Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificate and registration with the NAVSUP master directory. In some cases, a System Access Authorization Request (SAAR) form is be required to obtain role-base access to a NAVSUP-owned system.