Monday, September 14, 2015

A Little Help From My Friends

We've been having internet issues this patrol. We have internet connectivity, but sometimes it's just too slow to run some of the administrative applications that we use to get non-operational stuff done.

I will refrain in this post from going off on a tangential soap box about the blessings and curses of having underway connectivity in the first place. I'll instead direct readers to the article "The U.S. Navy's Leading Edge," by LT Kermit E Jones, in the September 2012 issue of US Naval Institute's Proceedings. Interesting discussion points abound.

Nope, today's post is all about making things work when things don't work. We're getting close to end of fiscal year closeout. It's a pretty internet heavy time for us -- all our purchases are tracked by an online program, and we have to use this program to submit, approve and reconcile all purchases. Having a slow internet connection has made that nearly impossible for us.

I was nearing despair when I got an email today that ratcheted up the pressure. We did our best to mitigate against this very situation including emphasizing spend down during our last inport, keeping close track of the status of purchases, and developing a plan in advance to spend any contingency money we kept in reserve that we didn't end up needing for contingencies. But, despite our best efforts, we missed some deadlines because of internet connectivity issues, and while no one was going to die from the consequences, it definitely put the ship at a disadvantage.

I got my ducks in a row, and communicated clearly to the holder of our purse strings what our issues were and the bare minimum of what I thought I needed to finish out the fiscal year. I sent the email and followed up with a phone call. It was that important.

While I was fighting with the Iridium phone, I got an email response back that said, no worries, let us know what you need. Which was great. But what was greater was the phone conversation. LT AP said she understood the issues and would help us anyway she could, including going into our accounts in the finance program from shore to get our purchases moved along. I didn't even know this was possible! She also emphasized why our spenddown was so important, painting the bigger picture for me in crystal clear detail. She made my problem relevant and then helped me solve it.

So, thank you, LT AP and assistant staff, for understanding the challenges of being underway and doing everything you can to help us work through some frustrating circumstances beyond our immediate control. You have given me hope that we can get through close-out without tearing all our hair out, and also put the support back into support function!

Sometimes you get what you ask for; sometimes you get what you need.

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