Incirlik Innovation - Airmen save time with new checklist

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Editor's note: This is the second article in a series designed to highlight innovative ideas, programs and actions that have or can save the Air Force money as well as improve mission readiness.

From basic military training and each assignment after, an Airman's first task at a new location is always the same -- in-process into their gaining unit.

But what happens when there is no process to follow or standard guidance on how to accomplish the in-processing task? Airmen can become lost in the process, and what should take a week to accomplish could drag on for a month.

This was the situation at Incirlik AB until a group of Airmen stepped up and stepped in using the Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century concept to establish a streamlined process and get servicemembers integrated into their units as expeditiously as possible.

"We were looking at the big picture; streamlining all the processes, cutting the fat and making it a simple step-by-step process," said Capt. James Melton, 39th Operations Squadron weather flight commander and AFSO 21 project team leader. "When we got into it we realized that there was not a process, so we had to develop a process rather than fixing one that already existed."

Before the streamlined process was developed Airmen would arrive at Incirlik AB and a sponsor would take them from office to office and have the arriving member in-process the way their sponsor did, the captain said.

"There was no set process of how to get things done, so we had to build that structure and then streamline the process within each section," Melton said. "I assembled a team of 14 Airmen from different units around the base who were subject-matter and recommended experts in their areas. We came together and brainstormed what the problem is, where do we want to get to and how do we get there."

The group started by focusing on the sponsor program to help ensure new arrivals knew what standard and Incirlik AB-specific items they needed to in-process.

"Beyond that, we set a flow so that on day one you have set appointments and times to get things done which are all part of the new in-processing checklist," continued Melton. "Another addition is the fill in the blank information on back of the checklist. This is information that different organizations will ask for when you in-process that you normally may not carry."

An example the captain shared are members who arrive here with dependents and register them for Tricare and must have the social security numbers for all their dependents. Melton said that most members do not keep information like dependents SSNs on their person and may have to return home and come back later to finish in-processing, wasting man-hours.

"This checklist breaks down everything you need for in-processing and what time," said Senior Airman Juanita James, 39th Force Support Squadron personnelist.

James said that when members arrive they know they have to in-procecess but don't know where to go, what time they have to be there and what they need to bring with them.

"The process literally breaks down what the wing expectation is from the member and makes it easier for the customer upon arrival," James said.

Altogether the program will save approximately 6,000 man-hours a year and allow Airmen to become integrated in their units and begin work faster.