HomeNewsArticle Display

AFSO-21 helps improve processes for Reservists

This graphic depicts the 8 step problem solving model for Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century. AFSO-21 is starting to take shape and improve operations in 507th Air Refueling Wing. (U.S. Air Force Graphic)

This graphic depicts the eight step problem solving model for Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century. AFSO-21 is starting to take shape and improve operations in 507th Air Refueling Wing. (U.S. Air Force Graphic)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, is a program to increase efficiencies and while this program is not new, it is starting to take shape and improve operations in the 507th Air Refueling Wing.

AFSO-21's objective is to establish a continuous process improvement that leans on the collective experience in the community and utilizes best practices, best tools and techniques to increase success.

There are many desired effects of AFSO-21, which include increasing productivity of the people, improve response time, increase agility, sustain safe and ensure reliable operations.

"We're looking at ways we can simplify processes so people can get their jobs done in a faster and in a more efficient way," said Lt. Col. Kimberly Howerton, process manager at the 507 ARW.

One part of AFSO-21 is a rapid improvement event. This month's rapid improvement event focused on how to improve the performance report process. Late EPR and OPRs is a challenge commanders and the process manager wanted to look at. With November statistics showing the wings EPR's were sitting at 16 percent overdue, something had to change and the AFSO-21 team took over.

"The statistics don't tell the full story. They let us know where the numbers are, but they don't help us determine why our numbers are there," said Howerton. "One of the things we want to teach is how to get deeper in our facts and numbers and then figure out how to use that data to fix the problem."

Making sure things are right on a performance report can take some time when the deadline approaches but it's essential to get it right the first time according to the process improvement team.

"When you're writing an EPR or OPR, you want to give it your best because this is the person's career," Howerton said. "What you write determines their promotion and everything else that happens in the future."

Statistics are just one of the topics covered in the event. Individuals of all ranks and experience levels come together to share ideas with each other and discuss topics from different perspectives. The ultimate goal: improve the process.

"One of the things about rapid improvement is that it doesn't matter what is on your sleeve or collar. What matters is what's in your brain and what your ideas are," Howerton said.

Howerton stressed this program is not intended to cut into the work force. "It's not about taking away jobs, but making your jobs more effective," Howerton said.

Many participants of the rapid improvement event came away realizing that by looking at a problem from different perspectives it helped them come up with ideas on how to improve processes. Howerton said that more events will be on tap to help make the wing more efficient in the future.