Making it easier to get work done

By Jan Miller

Photography By Randy Montoya

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Planning team discusses lab policy system
TEAMING FOR SUCCESS — Matt Schwartz (left), Juanita Evans (center) and Meredith Jones discuss the new Laboratory Policy System, which features streamlined policies and processes and a new user-friendly design.

How do I report a lost Sandia badge? How do I order a new chemical for my lab? Can I accept payment for jury duty? What is the process for hiring a new employee? Can business and personal travel be combined?
And, finally, where would a member of the Sandia workforce find the answers to these and other commonly asked questions?

The new Laboratory Policy System

Making its debut last week, the Laboratory Policy System (LPS) represents almost four years of work to simplify and streamline Sandia’s policies and processes, with the goal of making it easier for the workforce to find the information they need to get work done.

Project beginnings

In August 2014, Sandia began a project that aimed to address workforce complaints about the complexity of Sandia’s Corporate Policy System, or CPS. Matt Schwartz, a policies and procedures analyst and manager in Policy Management, joined with Juanita Evans, Jeff Gilligan and Meredith Jones for a thorough review of the current system, and the policies, processes and procedures it contained. The team examined how policy leads processed changes. Then they researched policy systems at other large companies, including Honeywell, Boeing and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, to benchmark best practices.

What we found at Sandia was a tangle of policies, managed by an extremely manual and cumbersome documentation system, located on an outdated information technology platform,” Matt said. “But we also found a starting point. The outstanding policy systems we reviewed were based on the needs of the customer. From that point on, our project team focused on how to make it easy for the workforce to find, understand and apply the appropriate policies and processes.

In November 2014, the project team began working with Information Technology Services to track CPS user information. With several months of data, the team identified the Top 30: those policies and processes most requested by the workforce. Juanita Evans worked with the functional area leads to create succinct answers to frequently asked questions about those policies, which then were posted on a separate page on the CPS site.

The creation of the FAQs page was just scratching the surface,” said Juanita. “We knew that we needed to make a more long-term plan for improvements — what we called the Corporate Policy System of the Future.” The team began gradual improvements by identifying policy leads for each functional area, migrating content to a new technology platform, and reviewing and consolidating the corporate dictionary with the 40,000-entry acronym database.

Gaining speed

After adopting a more customer-oriented business taxonomy developed by Sandia IT and now used throughout the national laboratories enterprise, the CPS-F team began working with policy leads, subject matter experts, attorneys and managers across Sandia to streamline and integrate policies and processes.

It made sense to organize the information how customers use it,” Meredith said. “Let’s say I wanted to purchase a chemical. I would need information about purchasing, environmental considerations, training, storage and more. LPS displays the information as a process, with links and information all in one place.

A push for the team came in May 2017, during contract transition, when the new leadership team began reviewing Sandia’s policies and processes. Deputy Laboratories Director Dave Douglass recognized the need for simple, consistent policies and processes, and helped accelerate the project by naming it one of the new leadership’s top five initiatives.

Having that kind of focus on our project was both helpful and a little intimidating,” Matt said. “We did get more support. And we had the opportunity to take a step back and see how the Laboratory Policy System, what we named the new corporate policy system, could be a part of a larger, Labs-wide risk management system.

Part of a larger plan

The new LPS runs on the RSA-Archer platform, a technology that integrates LPS data with a suite of governance, risk management and compliance tools. RSA-Archer can house similar modules such as risk management, issues management, assessments and lessons learned, enabling a more comprehensive, Labs-level look at policy effectiveness and risk management.

Policy management is just the first part of this connect-the-dots project,” Matt said. “RSA-Archer will be able to share data between LPS and the other modules to give us a holistic view of how we manage risks at Sandia.

It was also already in use in our cyber department, so we got a good price, he chuckled.

Defining success

Now, when Sandia users need to find the answer to one of those frequently asked policy or process questions, they will find a policy system that is more intuitive, with familiar policy categories and improved contextual searches along with cross-division processes that integrate multiple tools.

If our workforce can find what they need when they need it, with a minimum of confusion and clutter, we will consider the LPS a success,” Matt said. “The resulting efficiencies, cost-savings and consistencies are not glamorous or earth-shattering, but they are indicators of a well-run, safe and secure laboratory. That’s a win in my book.

The next phase of the corporate policy simplification project includes further enhancements to the LPS platform, user-experience improvements and additional FAQ entries, with completion planned at the end of FY19.
Find the Laboratory Policy System by clicking on the Policies link on the Techweb homepage. Send questions about LPS or suggestions for improvement to cps1@sandia.gov.