Achieving operational success through new ADM(IE) model

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Remaining focused on the ultimate goal of enabling operational success is not just a catch phrase. It’s raison d’être according to Colonel Kevin Horgan, commander of Assistant Deputy Minister (Infrastructure and Environment) Real Property Operations. Col Horgan recently shared his thoughts on the ADM(IE) transfer to a single real property portfolio manager.

Q: What is one of the major benefits ADM(IE) will realize as a result of this centralization?

A: I would expect us to see a significant reduction and streamlining of processes. Whether it’s human resources (HR), project approvals or allocation of funds, we’ll be much more efficient. Since achieving Interim Operational Capability (IOC) in 2014 and IOC + in 2015, the word from the four principal bases where we now manage real property (Esquimalt, Halifax, Comox and Borden) is that we have improved the turnaround time for the initial stage of HR submissions approvals. Previously, getting approvals to staff positions was a long process. For example, the construction engineering section would negotiate internally with the base whenever there was demand to staff a position. That request would then go to the division and would be subject to division priorities. It would then go to the Army and be subject to Army priorities, making it very complicated. Since ADM(IE) is only in the business of supporting real property management, we are able to make the process much more streamlined. That document gets to me in two or three days, where previously it could take weeks, if not months, to get approval for staffing. This is a very positive change.

Q: Has ADM(IE) been able to apply this better streamlined approach to any of its other processes?

A: Yes, similarly, we have improved our project approval process. By having approvals stay within the Real Property Operations (RP Ops) chain of command and move directly from the bases and wings to the region and to ADM(IE), we have dramatically shortened the turnaround time for these approvals. Funding allocation is another historic improvement. Because funding now comes from ADM(IE) – an internal process through one organization – word can get out at the start of the fiscal year, allowing us to start committing and spending, and getting contracts in place earlier in the year. This means that we can begin delivering on the construction front much earlier in the year. We have eliminated several layers of approvals and this has allowed ADM(IE) to make better use of resources, ensuring those funds are spent on the highest operational requirements that exist in the Canadian Armed Forces. These are all major benefits that ADM(IE) has realized at Esquimalt, Halifax, Comox and Borden, and we are looking forward to sharing these benefits with all our bases and wings after FOC.

Q: ADM(IE) has seen a lot of change over the last two years and is about to see even more as it approaches FOC. How do you plan to manage that change?

A: As we continue to evolve our processes, ADM(IE) will need to be flexible enough to adjust decisions, embrace change and adapt to conditions as they evolve. We have a large portfolio, a large budget, a large workforce; we are complex in every way. Inevitably, there will be things we didn’t think of, and as we encounter those things we will give new solutions due consideration. There will be no driving through the snowstorm blindly just because that’s the direction we decided to take months ago. Very few plans survive contact unchanged. The new ADM(IE) culture will be adaptable and able to adjust to complex and shifting realities.

Q: How will you engage ADM(IE)’s workforce after FOC?

A: Clearly, for an organization as large and diverse as ADM(IE) is about to become; spread across the country, engagement will be a challenge. I will send out regular updates via email; I will continue to travel and hold town halls with people on a regular basis; and I will use any and all communication methods that I can. Successful engagement will depend on our leaders. They will provide sound and reasonable guidance to the folks at the bases and wings. Their teams will know that we are here to support our workforce. Our organizational culture will support people coming forward with suggestions and innovations. The transformed ADM(IE) will have a large, experienced workforce, and will be smart enough to listen to our people and to our clients in order to meet their real property needs. We will be willing to test new and innovative ideas. Maybe an idea that works in one region may not work in another. We will be open to that back and forth process. All these factors will add up to ADM(IE)’s future success.

Q: Can ADM(IE) staff expect to see any big changes after FOC?

A: Well, all this will take time. Many of the benefits I’ve mentioned won’t be evident to ADM(IE) personnel in the first days and weeks post-FOC, but in the months and years to come. Managing $26 billion in infrastructure is a complex endeavour and swift, ill considered changes would be disastrous. Our buildings are not all going to turn to gold because of this change. ADM(IE) will be using the same pool of resources that existed before FOC. There are certainly some efficiencies to be realized through centralization—elimination of some of the overhead and streamlining of processes—but those changes will happen at a measured and realistic pace and will be realized in the long term.

ADM(IE) will work hard as a team toward our goal of enabling operational success, galvanized by our critical mission. In the long term, success will bring positive change for everyone at ADM(IE) and for our clients – but most importantly for the service women and men we support. We look forward to sharing our transformation with Canada’s Defence Community.

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