NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, MD– Clearly defined requirements and in-depth collaboration among all stakeholders led to the successful development of the Enterprise Change Management (ECM) Tool. That’s according to Daniel Christensen, Configuration/Data Management (CM/DM) Department Head whose team was recognized July 30 by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Sustainment Group for delivering the program in a matter of weeks.
ECM provides a collaborative environment across NAVAIR for change management, engineering change proposals, technical directive reviews and approvals, and Configuration Control Board requests and directives packages. Its rapid development and implementation exemplifies how the Sustainment Group workforce is meeting challenges and accomplishing the mission in creative and innovative ways, regardless of pressurized and unprecedented circumstances, NAVAIR Sustainment Group Director Robert Kimble said.
“Almost immediately after the contractor informed the Configuration Management/Data Management Department in late November that it would no longer support the legacy software as of January 2020, it put in place a course of action and engaged its customers to bring a solution to bear,” he said. “As a result of its quick response and drive to deliver a program in record time, the impact on aircraft system availability and readiness was minimized. The behind-the-scene activities — from inception to delivery — truly embody the team’s commitment to being “closer to the flight line.”
For several months before it learned about the change in support, the CM/DM Department’s ECM Tool Development Team was working on the follow-on program for the legacy software, believing that its end of life was scheduled for some time in late 2020, Christensen said. Losing the legacy system, however, meant it needed to develop an interim solution within 30 days. Hoping to delay the deadline, CM/DM Department negotiated with the contractor and received a 30-day extension.
To meet this new deadline and produce a viable product that met the needs of its customers, the department knew it needed an approach that would enable speed in its development, and tap into the experience and creativity of its workforce. “The ECM Tool Test Team, the group responsible for defining the software’s requirements, has more than 175 years of combined experience in configuration management, configuration control, engineering change proposal and technical directives,” he said. “From the beginning, we established rules of engagement that did not limit each person’s inputs. We were able to get what we needed provided it was within the capability of the software. This allowed the team to fully define and establish finite requirements, and evaluate them at a rapid pace before handing it over to the software development team.”
Not only did the 30-day extension allow the CM/DM Department time to further enhance the ECM Tool and conduct a more thorough testing of the product, it was also able to develop training curriculum and advise stakeholders on the tool’s capabilities.
As a result, the ECM Tool overwhelmingly met customer expectations, Christensen said. “The release went so smoothly that we did not receive any requests for actions. This told us that we had accomplished a much higher solution percentage than expected with no minor or major issues relating to functionality or users’ processing effectivity. The result was nothing short of fantastic,” he explained.
Jim Guare, Advanced Tactical Aircraft Protection Systems Program Office’s (PMA-272) configuration manager, who uses the ECM Tool to route documents through his and other program offices with survivability equipment installed in their aircraft, was impressed with the results.
“It is more user-friendly than the legacy system,” he said. “I’ve noticed fewer phone calls for help across all PMAs and our stakeholders are more engaged because the software is much faster. The interface has also improved. It no longer contains the icons that were in the old tool that caused confusion among users. These improvements result in a quicker turnaround time for document reviews and approvals.”
Edward Blackstone, Multi-Mission Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems Program Office (PMA-266) configuration management lead, said the ECM Tool enables him and his team to better execute the NAVAIR CM business process. “ECM provides us with the means to quickly and efficiently navigate the administrative configuration management adjudication process,” he said. “As a historical repository, ECM provides us with a ready resource of information surrounding the evolution of a given configuration item. It enables us to look back and assess the progress of a particular configuration effort and, when necessary, verify the authorization for the change. It also serves to provide stakeholders with information that may impact later configuration efforts.”
Blackstone also credits the ECM Tool with increasing his team’s productivity. “It is much faster and presents a more streamlined interface than its predecessor. Seconds saved on one transaction over the course of multiple transactions throughout the workday pays dividends in terms of minutes — even hours — saved within that day, allowing users to focus on other workload requirements,” he explained.
“The commitment and diligence of the development and test teams to put out a product that worked the first time jumped out at me,” Guare said. “ECM is proof that a useful, quality tool can be produced on an extremely short timeline when all stakeholders are engaged.”
Blackstone agreed. “This new tool has been embraced enthusiastically by our stakeholders,” he said. “The transition was seamless and virtually transparent to the average user. The ability to move from one program application to a new one without a steep learning curve is unheard of, but the teams did it.”
“To say ECM hit the ground running would be an understatement,” he added.