U.S. Armys Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department
CIO Rick Thomas is responsible for developing and managing systems for the Army's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department that support the leisure activities of millions of active and retired servicemen and women and their families. (CIO InsighThe U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center is the headquarters for the Armys Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department. CIO Rick Thomas is responsible for developing and managing systems that support the leisure activities of millions of active and retired servicemen and women and their families. The group offers such services as banking, investment management, human-resources management, legal services and risk insurance, as well as bowling alleys, golf courses and childcare centers. "Were basically a conglomerate, multifaceted headquarters working within the Department of Defense," says Thomas. Thomas found that his organization needed a way to better develop and articulate recommendations for technology initiatives. That meant building a set of processes for creating and managing an enterprise architecture. But in an era of tight budgets and increasing business demands, justifying the time and cost was tough. "So the first issue is, how do you convince the leadership that this is the right thing to do?" he asks. "And once youve convinced them, how do you demonstrate the value-added early on so that it doesnt die before its started?"
Thomas recommends picking an initiative that touches a broad range of organizational components while reaping quick returns. His group chose an online education program"Learning at Full Velocity"where the divisions training arm, MWR Academy, had already decided they wanted to have custom software built to avoid the cost of flying in trainees. First, Thomas architects used a variety of organizational informationinternal manuals, policy and procedure documents, MWRs strategic plan, the groups Balanced Scorecard, and an existing overall architectural plan for the Armyto construct a loose grid of organizational functions and goals. After existing training processes were analyzed, Thomas architects then performed what he calls a "deep dive" into the architectural plans, defining the specific processes and technology that would be required for the e-learning project. Those requirements were then compared with a variety of approaches, including custom and off-the-shelf software.