VNG more efficient with Continuous Process Improvement

RICHMOND, Va. — In an effort to make administrative systems more efficient and streamlined, the Virginia National Guard is taking a page out of the corporate world and applying it to their unique military systems and processes. 

It’s called Continuous Process Improvement, and uses different schools of thought to take VNG’s existing process framework and find ways to make it better. CPI does this by assuming there is always a way to make a current process better and more efficient. 

Using corporate methodologies such as Lean, which focuses on eliminating waste, and Six Sigma, which eliminates statistical variation, CPI can be applied to almost any military process, from aviation to administration, said Anton Grant, VNG’s CPI director. 

“People always think of CPI as a manufacturing process. It’s not,” said Grant. “It works in any industry like human resources, pay, anything that has a step-by-step process that has bottlenecks. That’s what you’re trying to find. What is causing this process to slow down?”

CPI certifications can run from “green belt,” which is a basic level certification, to “black belt” and “master black belt.” However, Grant stressed that anyone can practice CPI, even without a certification.

“CPI is a systematic approach to solving problems. That’s it,” said Grant. “It’s a step-by-step process, a methodology to solve problems. 

“It’s simple for anyone to use the methodology. You don’t need a master’s degree or anything like that. The average person can use CPI and help improve their unit or organization’s everyday work.” 

The CPI thinking is already being applied to administrative processes including VNG bonus pay and State Active Duty pay, as well as the Department of Military Affairs state employee hiring process. Grant said the immediate goal is to decrease the time it takes to distribute bonuses to less than 30 days, and improve payroll processing of SAD pay to 10 days. 

CPI is also being applied to the DMA hiring process, with the goal of significantly reducing the time it takes to post, process and fill state employee positions. 

During the projects, CPI practitioners analyze current workflows to find problem areas or slowdowns, then come up with solutions for them. Once the initial solutions are in place, the process will be tested again to determine if the solution is working, or if it will need to be re-examined. 

“It helps the Soldier understand their workflows,” said Grant. “Mapping out the process, you get to understand where the waste is.”

Grant said results and progress made using these problem-solving techniques won’t be based on gut feelings or guesses. 

“This is data-driven. This is not us guessing ‘oh, this feels better.’ The data will be run to see if the numbers really change,” explained Grant. “We don’t go off of assumptions. It’s pure, hard, data-driven decision making. The numbers tell you the truth.” 

Anyone in the VNG organization interested in learning more about CPI  and how it can apply to their part of the organization is encouraged to visit the CPI Sharepoint site here: 

https://vko.va.ngb.army.mil/jointstaff/dojs/km/cpi/SitePages/Home.aspx

Anyone looking to pursue CPI certification can also contact Anton Grant at anton.r.grant.civ@mail.mil