Coming Soon to an HR Department Near You

Let me introduce you to our logs. We have logs to maintain the status of many of our personnel actions – gains, losses, position changes, merit promotion and open continuous announcement numbers, position description numbers, submission of background investigations, and more. Born of necessity, these logs serve a purpose but maintaining them adds to our already complex processes. Right now, gathering and providing the information the organization needs often means another spreadsheet or log. I have lamented that we cannot spreadsheet our problems away and applying process redesign principles to a system that requires automation, absent that, will not get us anywhere. We are a paper-based human resource system that has outgrown our legal pads and excel spreadsheets.

And, this is about to change. Under the leadership of Allen Pittman, VA’s assistant secretary for human resources and chief human capital officer, "VA is embarking on a multi-year effort to automate its personnel system." We are about to be uncovered. Not discovered, but literally uncovered. Uncovered from the paper, uncovered from the manual processes, uncovered from the side by side IT systems that don’t communicate with each other or present their information in the same way. Uncovered.

Yes, it is an idea whose time has come. Yes automation is absolutely necessary for us to provide the services, information and resources our organizations need. Yes, I could sit back and simply say "its about time" but I won’t and I hope others don’t either. This is more than a "gimme." To those, like me, who feel that their real contributions are buried under the paper – this is a message. This is a message from leadership that the support is there – not only to the tune of millions of dollars but also to the commitment to provide us with the tools and resources we have said that we need. Mr. Pittman, thank you.

Now, it’s up to me to use this to make a difference in my little corner of the world.