By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Yokosuka Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) conducted two three-day courses to reinforce SRF-JRMC’s ship repair and maintenance capabilities, Jan. 26-28 and Feb. 2-4.
The Project Management (PM) Basics Courses were held for U.S. civilian and Japanese employees. Spearheaded by the SRF-JRMC Waterfront Operations team and supported by other departments, the courses are part of a PM implementation initiative to meet the demand for ship repair and maintenance across SRF-JRMC.
“This was a good opportunity to know what PM is,” said Quality Control Specialist Naoto Kubo of Engineering, Analysis and Training Division. “It ensured the fact that everyone in the command is all ‘in the same boat,’ so to speak.”
In March 2015, subject matter experts and leaders throughout SRF-JRMC participated in the command’s first “PM Fundamentals for Japan (PMF4JN)” pilot eight-day course, in support of the command’s strategic goals. This was the first step in establishing an English-Japanese bilingual PM training program at SRF-JRMC, customized for their personnel.
In June, 2015, the participants from the pilot course reviewed the training materials, offered translation suggestions, practiced instructional techniques and became certified to teach the course to the SRF-JRMC workforce. Twenty-nine employees received certification. These individuals were recognized command-wide for their willingness to take on additional duties to help lead the command’s PM development efforts.
While the eight-day PMF4JN training is tailored for SRF-JRMC personnel who are directly involved with planning and execution of maintenance and repair on ships, the three-day basics course is designed for employees who are directly supporting the production workforce. The latter training is a compressed and less detailed version of the comprehensive eight-day class.
To date, 58 employees have completed the PM Basics course conducted in December 2015; 44 in January and February 2016.
“I signed up for the training, because I wanted to know – from a bigger picture – how my daily job is related to the jobs at the waterfront,” said Budget Analyst Kei Matsui of Comptroller Department, Budget Division. He shared that the course was an opportunity to put his work into a more holistic perspective.
“I highly recommend the basics course,” said SRF-JRMC Legal Counsel and Attorney James McLaren “because it will give you more clarity into your purpose in the command and how your role fits into the ship maintenance world. You will learn how all departments must rely on each other to operate successfully as a whole, like organs to the human body.”
Training Instructor Yuuko Oikawa from Engineering, Analysis & Training Division in Quality Assurance Department shared her newfound understanding of SRF-JRMC’s project workflow. “I have a good grasp of what part and responsibility a single person takes in a project. Also, I got to see what direction SRF is heading.”
Combat Systems Test Engineering Division Head Christopher Black said he thought the course was very useful: “It’s going to help SRF keep pace with other shipyards and improve our ability to plan and fix ships.”
“The training was like a brief refresher for me, since I am right now totally committed to PM,” said Assistant Project Superintendent Issei Terashima. “It was rewarding to see many people from different sections having their questions answered. Now, I can see what parts of PM may be challenging for others to grasp. We can clarify those areas to help others understand, as needed to conduct their jobs with purpose.”
Despite daily worksite exposure to PM, some participants claimed there is still new knowledge to learn. “On top of what I already knew, I learned how projects are closed out after the repair itself is finished and documented,” Terashima added.
“There’s still a lot to learn in applying [PM]. But once you learn it, it will be OK,” said Assistant Project Superintendent Douglas Hadorn. “It’s going to take time, but eventually we’ll be there.”
SRF-JRMC has been practicing PM since 2008, its first use on the USS George Washington (CVN 73) maintenance availabilities. Project team billets were established, and some existing billets were realigned to support its execution.
In 2013, the command announced PM’s full implementation in their Strategic Plan as a means to increase and continuously improve work productivity.
Modern PM concepts date back to the early 1950s. As technologies advanced, industrial and engineering work became more complex and required more collaborative workforce involvement. In order to achieve goals with new technologies and limited resources, and to facilitate communication and collaboration among various divisions within an organization, a new methodology was needed. For example, PM techniques were utilized as part of the Polaris project (1951-56), in which the U.S. Navy made it possible for submarines to deliver ballistic missiles.
Programs by U.S. agencies, including the U.S. Navy, are expected to standardize and execute PM and to render its transparency. According to Nov. 24 issue of Federal Times.com, 2015, the Program Management Improvement Accountability Act (PMIAA) was unanimously approved in the Senate, Nov. 19, 2015. This legislation would help develop strategy and oversee program/PM operations and reform the way U.S. government manages projects.