The Future Traveler Experience is Now The Defense Travel Modernization Prototype
The Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO) has embarked on a major initiative to transform the Defense Travel Enterprise. It’s goals are to improve delivery of travel services, maximize policy understanding and compliance, improve cost-effectiveness across the Defense Travel Enterprise; provide a positive customer experience that drives high satisfaction, and maximize control and visibility into travel spend.
The Future Traveler Experience is Now – The Defense Travel Modernization Prototype, a panel presentation led by Bob Gerenser, Strategy, Plans & Operations Chief, DTMO, highlighted some of DTMO’s efforts thus far. The presentation was part of the 2020 GovTravels Symposium professional program. Held in Alexandria, Virginia, GovTravels was co-sponsored by the National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA) and DTMO.
Mr. Gerenser began by providing background on the modernization efforts, which were approved and started in 2014. At that time, a Defense Travel Modernization (DTM) team was put together to take on the monumental task of modernization.
The team found that DOD needed to simplify policy, increase their use of and resources for data analytics, and get rid of their custom travel system in favor of a commercial Software As A Service (SAAS) system. They then tested a pilot program to assess the feasibility of moving to a SAAS for DOD travel.
Once the team was ready to move from the pilot to something more permanent, they set up an acquisition strategy that utilized the department’s Other Transaction Authority (OTA) for procurement. Instead of buying a system, the team asked industry to provide the capability. Their expectations were to reduce process and workflow for the travelers, while meeting DOD and audit readiness requirements, and improving customer satisfaction.
Lisa Moreno, Chief, Travel Systems & Support Branch, DTMO, described how DOD was able to successfully take an out-of-the-box product and configured it to a prototype travel system, while still meeting DOD’s extremely complex travel policies, laws and requirements, and all without any customization.
This immense challenge was met by utilizing data. The team found that 60 percent of all DOD travel is regular business travel, so they started their configuration with that type of travel and traveler as a starting point before tackling other scenarios.
The system is currently in use by 2,100 people, a number that is expected to grow. These users—and, specifically, their feedback—are critical to continuous prototype improvement and traveler experience optimization. Feedback is captured through surveys, weekly meetings focused on travel managers, and a help desk to help identify issues immediately for appropriate action.
Lance Jenkinson, Functional Product Owner Supporting DTM, Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), described the strict orders to configure the commercial product without customization as one of the team’s toughest challenges. To tackle this, they worked closely with policy teams to rethink and simplify policies and pushed technical boundaries.
While configuration relies on compromise, cybersecurity was the one area where there was no compromising. The app has been Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA)-approved for government, as well as personal mobile devices. Mobile security is achieved by multifactor identification.
DTM team members Josh Dahan and Sangeeta Ryan closed the panel by providing a highly anticipated live demonstration of the defense travel app from the traveler’s and travel approver’s perspectives, respectively. Both types of users will benefit from the ability to utilize the system anytime and anywhere.
As the only event where decision-makers from government and industry gather to meet, learn, and collaborate on common travel issues, GovTravels provides a unique and vital opportunity for those in the government travel community.