JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
In an effort to “Accelerate Change” within Air Combat Command, Airmen from the Operations Division, Command and Control shop have effectively used automation to cut the time required to complete manning forecasts and deployment processes to seven minutes.
Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Larsen and Master Sgt. Galicia Castillo were selected to participate in a project contracted with Deloitte Consulting LLC to create automation bots to save time and energy on everyday processes. Larsen and Castillo identified their manning forecasts and deployment taskings as two of their most time-consuming tasks. The Command-and-Control shop is responsible for manning forecasts and tasking 1700 Operations Airmen across ACC bases for deployment.
Deloitte found that on average these processes take up to 6 hours to accomplish, but according to Larsen the tasks can, at times, take up to a day and a half. In a matter of months, the Deloitte team created two programs that cut these processes down to a mere 7 minutes.
"We had multiple runs of the bot itself, we met with the developers a few times, we established all the steps it took, we streamlined those steps, and then tested them over a certain period of time,” Castillo said. “We identified any issues, the Deloitte team refined them and we had a final product. It took 4-6 months from start to finish."
Castillo and Larsen dubbed the manning forecast bot “Oracle” and the deployment tasking bot “Architect”.
Matrix fans will especially appreciate this nod, Larsen explains, "We related them to two of the main people in the Matrix, the Oracle which can tell you the future and Architect is able to pull in information and give us a foundation to build a deployment plan."
A member only needs to set parameters in a few drop-down menus in Microsoft Excel and then Oracle will create a manning forecast or Architect will pull a list of potential Airmen for taskings, both use information from MILPDs and Intellink.
"We set the parameters and it can pull a full line of information, part of the line includes the last time that a member was deployed, I can tell it to give me all 7 level TSgts from certain units. It will pull a line based on those units,” Larsen said. “I can do a quick scan across and see that one guy deployed in July 2010 and another never deployed. So I can see if the unit can support with their available manpower and I can tell if it would be better to send the person who never deployed.”
After scrubbing all the available names in the systems, an additional excel sheet pops up with a list of errors identified in members’ records. This allows the member to notify individuals who require an update.
While the bots are limited to the computers they are installed on, they have made a huge difference for Command-and-Control, Castillo attributed the success to the support from the ACC Operations division to innovate the processes.
"Overall, it improved our morale and to me that is a success story because it gave us time back and we could refocus that extra energy,” Castillo said. “It really does expedite the process, to the point, where we had one short notice where we had somebody fall out and we deployed Architect to identify a back-up and it saved us a lot of time and energy and prevented it from becoming an issue downrange."
When asked what Castillo wants fellow Airmen to understand about innovation, it’s all about saving time and energy.
“Being open to change. Innovation is what keeps us in the fight. It makes us stronger and smarter,” Castillo said. “Especially as new airmen come in, they bring that new vision of technology that we can improve ourselves and leave it better for tomorrow."
This project was part of a larger innovation effort in ACC/A3 to work with Deloitte to create thirteen different automation bots.