As financial managers who support the various missions of our nation's armed forces and federal agencies, we are often challenged to improve our processes to better support the American public while facing reduced budgetary resources. Using principles of Activity Based Management (ABM), we can identify value-added activities and improve them while also working to eliminate or reduce non-value added activities. Doing so often results in more efficient processes and ultimately a greater ability to achieve our missions despite increasing resource constraints.
Although armed forces and federal agency personnel focus their services on supporting the American public, they are also the customers of their organizations. Service members rely on their organizations for not only personnel readiness support to ensure mental and physical health needs are met, but also to keep our administrative paperwork in order.
While these support measures are necessary to ensure a mission capable workforce, they are often viewed as burdensome to the members who receive them. "Timesuck" and "administrivia" are commonly used terms which describe how some service men and women feel about these processes.
Using Activity Based Management to Battle Administrivia
However, there is hope! No doubt, numerous initiatives across our organizations have already implemented measures to increase efficiencies in servicing personnel. For example, this past October, the Mission Support Division at the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) mitigated some of the "timesuck." To reduce non-value added activities associated with several recurring personnel support functions, Mission Support created one-stop shopping by offering semiannual weigh-ins, influenza vaccinations, and annual validation of dependency, beneficiaries, Service Group Life Insurance, and emergency contacts all in one designated space.
To enhance efficiency, customers were notified via email of prearranged appointments with a series of dates and time windows delineated by last names to manage the flow of customers throughout these processes.
The improvement was noted by many enjoying the new process. What might be viewed as common sense (offering several services in one place all at the same time) stood out to me as something more deliberate and actively managed. Completing weigh-ins, annual verifications and getting the flu shot was something that previously took several appointments. As an instructor of Managerial Accounting, what I saw during my...