Building strong business processes in Afghanistan Part 1: Rationalizing the electronic filing system
By Karla Marshall
Afghanistan Engineer District-South
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Businesses, regardless of their location, benefit from well-organized and accessible information. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Afghanistan Engineer District-South tackled knowledge and file sharing processes in April by reorganizing their shared electronic files and doing major "spring cleaning."
One of South District Commander, Air Force Col. Benjamin Wham's command priorities is to work efficiently. For this project he was an avid supporter. "The South District has a lot of work on its plate. Our team needs streamlined processes so any steps we take to reduce overhead tasks help everyone."
"From a continuity perspective, the way our electronic file system was organized made it difficult for new employees to find information," said Kelly Gilhooly, the district's previous process improvement manager who returned to Rock Island, Ill. in late April. "We had to create a system that improved the transition of materials and documents from outgoing personnel to incoming and reduce the amount of redundant information."
Because many of the district's files include voluminous engineering design documents and project photographs, Gilhooly, along with the chief of information management, Chris Brooks, and Gil Kim, the acting deputy district engineer for project management during the project's planning phase, envisioned a consistent archival system for each of the district's divisions, branches and offices.
"By organizing the filing structure the same way the district was organized and standardizing the higher-level folders, we made it easier and faster for employees to find the information they need to do their jobs," Gilhooly explained.
The number of files and their size became a logistical problem. "The South District consumed more than 6.27 terabytes of hard drive storage space," said Brooks. "And the majority of that data was only two or three years old. Backing it up became expensive and very time consuming."
Once the files were sorted, the relevant and necessary files migrated to a new drive on the server, and the remainder will be sent to an archive server in Winchester, Va. "Each section of the district was responsible for ensuring that the remaining data in their files were still mission critical," said Brooks. "We relied on individuals and supervisors to use the standardized filing system and purge their files. The whole process took about two weeks and now, and we estimate three terabytes of data was purged from the backup system which contributes to greater backup efficiency and better disaster preparedness.