Thursday, June 5, 2014

Rethinking your check in process

At my last command, I owned the command indoc program.  My staff and I spent a considerable amount of time streamlining the process so that new check-ins would get into their shops as quickly as possible, while also being ready to start work.  One of my second class petty officers got tired of the sheer amount of paper that was being printed for one time use stuff, such as the Information Assurance certificates from NKO.  He started having new check-ins save the files electronically and drop them into a shared folder on Intelink's Inteldocs website.  He set up the folder to email him when a file was added, which prompted him to login and update that Sailors record.

Overall, we eliminated 800+ pages a year, plus we cut out about 200 man hours of work.  I don't know how much toner we saved, but it had to be significant, not to mention the time it takes to track down a cartridge and replace it.

I'm now completing my indoc process at my new command, and I'm seeing more good and bad processes.  Indoc is how you welcome people, and if it isn't streamlined you lose too many man hours of work.  With military members rotating every 2-3 years, that time becomes very precious very quickly.  If you are running or have to setup your command's indoc program, I have some suggestions for you:

1. Have a map and phone numbers.  You cannot assume that a sponsor will walk around with someone for every step.  If every line has a phone number of who to call to schedule an appointment, and a location that can be found on an attached map, you'll make it much more likely that a new check-in will quickly get through the process.

2. Make it mandatory.  I continue to run into people that don't indoc properly.  At my last command I would catch the occasional Sailor, for whatever reason, trying to not follow the process.  We made it fairly simple: we didn't give you your computer account until you turned in your indoc paperwork.  It seems draconian, but if you never finish indoc, you might miss something important like urinalysis.

3. Have a process for house hunting.  I don't know why, but too many commands are hesitant to give house hunting TDY.  Not only is there an instruction for it, but it's a good way to give new check-ins enough time to get settled into a home, move in, explore the area, and fix any lingering issues.  When they come back, they are ready to start working without any distractions.  Have a process for house hunting TDY and make it easy for incoming personnel to use it.

4. Don't forget base support.  Medical and dental should be on your checklist.  Yes, they likely aren't in your command, but do you want to find out your Sailor never turned in medical records a year down the road?  If you have a group indoc, get representatives from places like base security on there.  Even the local commissary manager would likely want five minutes to sell his/her services.

5. Consider a family checklist.  While you can't make spouses check in, have the ombudsman create a new spouse check in sheet so that he/she can get acquainted with the area.  Things like shifting TRICARE regions, setting up family care, locating the commissary, NEX and thrift shop, and even getting numbers for the local Navy and Marine Corp Relief Society are all extremely helpful, especially for spouses on their first tour as a Navy spouse.  It also gives your ombudsman an excuse to talk to family members and ensures he/she is involved with new command members.

6. Eliminate paper where possible.  I have had to hunt down printers, and it sucks.  If there is a way to do something electronically, do it.  The less paper you have, the easier you make it on a check-in.  I personally love using Inteldocs, but if you use eKM or some other system, that works too.

7. The travel claim is the hardest part.  PCS travel claims are fairly long and extensive.  Do as much as you can to make that easier.  Post instructions and forms where they can be pre-filled in.  Make sure you have a high-speed scanner/copier nearby where people check-in (sounds stupid, but the Atlanta Vehicle Processing Center still uses a personal all-in-one printer as a scanner, and the other two in their office are broken!).  Have set processes for TLA/TLE and make them public.