SSC-Natick Press ReleaseU.S. Army Soldier Systems
Public Affairs Office
Contact: Public Affairs Office
Date: August 20, 2008
Systems Center organizations use Lean Six Sigma to improve
management of sustainment funds
By Dan Galarza,
Integrated Logistics Support Center
NATICK, Mass. --
In these days of dwindling budget cuts and reduced funding, all Army
organizations are taking a closer look at how best to manage their
budgets and stretch their dollars in order to enable them to provide
the best support to our Soldiers.
At the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC) here, organizations
have partnered together, and using the tools of Lean Six Sigma,
established a joint process to improve the accuracy of their support
budget proposals by at least 50 percent.
The problem that needed to be addressed was defined as the lack of a
standardized process for developing Natick Sustainment Systems
Technical Support (SSTS) Program Objective Memorandum (POM)
submissions. This resulted in the failure of capturing true SSTS
requirements, which caused the POM submission accuracy rate to be as
low as 39 percent.
The POM is a document that provides a comprehensive, detailed
description of proposed programs and the resources required to
support them for at least six years into the future. Once developed,
the POM requirements are fed into a central database and examined by
Department of the Army representatives who certify the requirements
and disseminate the funds based on the current and future needs of
Matt Taylor, Soldier Support Systems Group Leader, Soldier Support
Systems Group, Integrated Logistics Support Center (ILSC) said,
"Receiving funding for known sustainment needs is critical to
providing the quality sustainment support required to support
current and future operations."
The Readiness and Sustainment Directorate of the ILSC took the lead
for this black-belt level project and assembled a team comprised of
representatives from the ILSC, the Natick Soldier Research,
Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) and Product Manager
Force Sustainment Systems (PM FSS). The sponsors for the project
were Lt. Col. Craig Rettie, PM FSS, and Taylor.
The primary goals of the project were to increase the accuracy of
the submissions by at least 30 percent, and to develop a
standardized process for collecting and submitting SSTS data.
In the Army, SSTS funds pay for a variety of technical support
functions such as engineering change proposals, technical data
packages, technical support, and technical publications. Once labor
hours and costs are determined for these functions, SSTS
requirements are listed in a POM.
Rettie emphasized the importance of the project. "As the Natick
acquisition community moves forward with the complete inculcation of
total life cycle management teaming, projects such as this SSTS
submission process represent the fruits of that effort and can be
harvested for the gain of the taxpayer, Army and Soldier."
The team examined the process of how POM input was being gathered
and submitted and after analyzing the data, found four major root
causes of the inaccuracies.
Lack of operational definitions, lack of historical data, a lack of
standardized procedures to collect and submit data, and a lack of
input from subject matter experts (SMEs) were discovered to be
reasons behind the inaccuracies.
Once the causes had been identified, the project team focused on
developing solutions. The main solutions decided upon were to
develop standardized operational definitions, develop a tracking
system to monitor and store historical data, develop standard
operating procedures, and to solicit input from SMEs.
Taylor said, "By developing a standardized process to collect,
estimate and submit our sustainment requirements, we will collect
empirical data that will validate and strengthen our support cost
The implementation of the solutions produced dramatic results. The
accuracy rate of the POM submission rose from 39 percent to 89
percent. Also, ten systems that were previously not identified in
the POM have been added and are now being tracked and monitored.
By partnering together and using Lean Six Sigma tools to improve
management of SSTS funding, the organizations at the SSC are
demonstrating their resolve and commitment to providing great
support to the Warfighter, while also ensuring smart fiscal use of