"The singular pain point in the process is really being able to line up true requirements in evaluating risks based on previously established goals or criterion."
- Jason Williams, retired Commander, 6th Comptroller Squadron and Chief Financial Officer
What is the UFR Process today?
Most organizations are using 20th century process for 21st century planning challenges. Whether that be the Air Force, Navy, or Army the approach to addressing military Unfunded Requirements (UFRs) no longer works. In a recent Decision Lens Webinar, Jason Williams, retired Commander, 6th Comptroller Squadron and Chief Financial Officer, MacDill Air Force Base discussed his experiences enhancing his Squadron’s UFR process and sharing best practices to help others take their processes from UFR 1.0 to UFR 2.0.
Most organizations in the military today use manual, time intensive, and inefficient processes to determine UFR lists. The reason to move from the old way of spreadsheets, email, and manual processes is easy to comprehend:
- Mistakes and data errors
- Version control issues
- Security risks from unencrypted files being shared
- Delays in review
- Less time to analyze data and make informed decisions
- Limited data transparency
Every Comptroller and FM professional working across the Department of Defense is struggling to move past old ways and innovate.
“We’re experiencing the same challenges across the services in DOD. The singular pain point in the process is really being able to line up true requirements in evaluating risks based on previously established goals or criterion,” said Commander Williams, during the webinar entitled “How (and Why) to Automate Your UFR Prioritization”.
Prioritization can be complicated when there are many competing needs deriving from multiple stakeholder groups. One group’s top priorities may trump another group’s top needs, but how can you objectively weigh those priorities and determine how funding should be allocated?
Once prioritized, UFR 1.0 processes still frequently result in unforeseen challenges, which changes the initial fiscal strategy. This can result in funding needing to be re-allocated and priorities to once again be re-evaluated. Without the right tools, people, and processes this becomes a time-consuming task, making it extremely difficult to meet rapidly changing needs while still adhering to regulations and guidelines.
With all of these challenges how can organizations across the DOD sector take their UFR processes to the next level?
Combining people, processes, and technology, makes the process be more linear and dynamic, creating less room for error, and providing more time to analyze data and scenarios. In turn this ensures that you are effectively assessing risk and providing the best course of action to leadership. Williams shared three key tips to help organizations combat UFR challenges and reach UFR 2.0 including:
1. Automate the process
Adopting software that links strategy goals to established criteria can help you weigh individual requirements to obtain an objective UFR list. Automation decreases turnaround time and the level of effort to populate data and provide information. An added benefit is that using a single secure platform to house documentation helps prevent version control issues and keeps your organization’s valuable data safe.
2. Present three Courses of Action
The UFR is an ever-evolving living list, which requires being able to predict potential outcomes from scenarios and being able to effectively assess risk. A technological tool such as Decision Lens helps organizations produce and analyze a variety of scenarios and outcomes. To aid in achieving favorable outcomes, Williams recommended the approach of presenting the Comptroller with three Courses of Action (COAs) and recommending one of them for implementation.
3. Establish a fiscal strategy early
The year of execution is too late to begin planning. Beginning planning for the fiscal year in October can help ensure buy-in on a fiscal strategy that is tied to the overarching organizational strategy. Taking initiative in the planning can also help to lay out checkpoints to ensure that the funds are being distributed on time.
Integrating new technology into your organization’s processes and procedures can help you to have a better line of sight of what could happen and adapt more quickly when conditions change. Modernizing your process will ultimately help your organization to better pivot when needs arise and to spend more time on objective data analysis, which will help you better achieve your organization’s goals.