In the U.S. Army, the cost analysis requirements document (CARD) is needed for every Acquisition Category I (ACAT I) program as it passes through the milestone decision review process. For an ACAT I program, the CARD can comprise up to 52 documents, which describe all elements of the program. Examples of information contained in the CARD are the acquisition plan and strategy, quality requirements, development plan, and the program milestone schedule. The CARD is used by the Army and the Department of Defense (DoD) to determine the cost for new systems and equipment, or the cost of upgrades to existing programs.
Category I programs – which can have a budget of $365 million for research, development, testing and evaluation, or a budget of $2.19 billion for procurement – are among the largest acquisition programs managed by the Army. If the CARD does not arrive to Army or DoD organizations when expected, it can delay the milestone decision review for such large Army purchases. To address this concern, the Army launched a project to reduce the cycle time of the CARD development process.
The CARD is critical to the cost and schedule reviews that occur within the milestone review process and that are required by both U.S. code and DoD regulation. Unfortunately, the CARD is time consuming and resource intensive to develop. At the outset of the project, the cycle time (measured in man-hours) had a wide range – from 1,343 to 8,123 man-hours – with a mean of 4,372 man-hours….
In the Measure phase, the team developed a data collection plan to gather the man-hours associated with developing a CARD and other information about the CARD development process. Data collection was to cover the previous three years….
The survey and interviews in the data collection phase provided vital information about the process, enabling the team to evaluate the root causes driving variation. The first step that the team took in the Analyze phase was to draw the process using a swim-lane process map. This allowed us to visualize the process flow with its cross-functional handoffs, decision points and areas of potential failure….
Reviewing the root causes discovered in the Analyze phase, the team developed four redesign elements for consideration….
In the Control phase, the team developed a control plan to sustain the improvements. The four areas addressed in the plan are vital to the continuation of the new process…….
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