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US Government on Biometrics Process Improvement

The US military saved 40 million dollars from a process improvement project using process simulation. When a combatant bomb explodes (similar to what happened at the Boston Marathon) in Afghanistan, the pieces are gathered up, scanned and sent to an advanced biometrics process improvement group in the United States. With sophisticated equipment the remains of the explosive device are scrutinized to provide evidence of the origin, tactics, trends, etc. Actionable intelligence leads to changes in US military strategy and tactics to thwart IEDs and minimize loss. Timely response is critical to making informed decisions that will save lives.

Process Simulation Identifies Process Improvement “Keys” for Biometrics Process Improvement

The problem with complex process improvement projects is the difficulty in calculating the benefit on the entire system from improving any individual area. Such was the case when a vendor to the US military proposed a 40 million dollar solution that would reduce the turnaround-time (TAT) for biometric results by 30%. The presentation was outstanding and who can argue with a 30% improvement when US soldiers lives are on the line. The vendor’s proposal was on the fast track to approval when a simulation study was authorized.

A successful solution resulting from IED examination.

A successful solution resulting from IED examination.

Process simulation provides a method to link together information in a way that would be impossible using traditional methods. The problem with traditional methods, like spreadsheets, is the difficulty in calculating a realistic TAT (often being inaccurate by +/- 50% or more). Spreadsheets are great tools, but fall down when calculating time dependent calculations (like work schedules or variation from times depending on the mix of product). Some of the pieces of information required to calculated a realistic TAT might include:

  • Work schedules of onsite investigators
  • Type of information being sent (many different types are sent for the same IED)
  • Arrivals rate of information (large files take a long time to send)
  • Processing times based on type of information
  • Work schedules off site investigators by skill level
  • Consolidation of results
  • Transmission time of results

Process Simulation Shows Results of Changes to Complex Systems

After a process simulation was built, showing the main interactions of the system, experiments were run to test new technology’s effect to the TAT. After studying the vendors solution in the simulation, it was found that no appreciable TAT improvement could be expected from implementation. The project went from fast track to trash can in a few weeks. That is a 40 million dollar savings (from expenditure avoidance) on a single process improvement project with a minimal investment.

About the Author:

Scott Baird has been president of ProcessModel for more than 15 years. His focus has been to teach others how to improve processes dramatically. He has been successful in transferring these skills to over 200 companies, including ESPN, NASA, GE, Nationwide, Cendant, SSA and many more. Specialties: Group facilitation for process improvement, process design and simulation, simulation modeling, business management and training others to see opportunities. Scott loves to teach process improvement and has often been heard to say, “Of all the things I do, training others to improve processes is my favorite.” Scott is a father of four and a grandfather of eight. He is an avid woodworker, designing and creating presentation boxes. In his spare time, he volunteers in a college preparation program.

One Comment

  1. Virginia J. Romine December 9, 2014 at 12:47 AM - Reply

    Last five years I’ve used most of the main simulation software of the market and it’s always a huge problem when you face an issue that cannot be tackled with just a single simulation method, it’s always a huge struggle to code such simulations. After testing ProcessModel, I have no doubt that these kind of difficulties are in the past, the extremely intuitive interface makes modeling complex systems not only way faster than before, but also makes the process more fulfilling, since the work flow compels you to be open to new possibilities and to test new hypotheses that with any other application would be discouraging.

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