Shortly after venture capital firm J.F. Lehman & Company purchased Doss Aviation Inc. in 2011, top management set out to remake IT. Prior to the transaction, IT at the defense contractor was a run-of-the-mill support function dispersed throughout the company’s twenty-plus locations. It was viewed internally as a cost center with little strategic impact. For the company to maintain a strong competitive posture, the owners and management knew that had to change.
Number of aviation students trained yearly at Doss Aviation through the Air Force’s Initial Flight Training program
Years Doss Aviation has been in business
Number of aircraft refueling efforts per year
Types of aircraft Doss Aviation is experienced in maintaining
Doss, which provides flight training, aircraft maintenance, aviation logistics, and fuel-management services for the US military, wanted technology to morph into a unit that would contribute more to strategic goals. IT would be tasked to work closely with internal departments to make operations more efficient and to raise the quality of key functions, such as preparing proposals.
The new style of IT would need a leader who could consolidate the department’s operations and work with business groups to better align technology with business strategy. Jamie Trujillo, then IT Manager with Doss Aviation’s initial flight-training division based in Pueblo, Colorado, was the choice to take the helm. Trujillo was appointed director of IT, and immediately set out to reorganize the department.
Trujillo consolidated IT into a centralized unit based at the company’s Colorado Springs headquarters. His department, consisting of five IT professionals and one contractor, now serves the entire organization’s IT needs from headquarters, using tools to diagnose and remedy problems remotely. Sync spoke with Trujillo about the challenges he now faces, including implementing a new Sharepoint document-sharing and communications system, addressing network standardization, and complying with tough federal government IT security requirements.
Can you describe the IT philosophy at Doss?
Jamie Trujillo: We’re always asking, how can we support business development? How can we use existing technology to win defense contracts? Defense contracting is an extremely competitive industry and it’s up to every division to determine how to best press forward and win contracts. IT’s mission is to support the business and support revenue generation.
How are you better aligning IT with business needs?
Trujillo: It starts with open communication between myself and the other division chiefs—operations, business development, flight training, human resources, finance, etc. I instituted regular meetings with them to determine what’s working, what’s not working, what we can do better, and what needs to be scrapped. This helps us in IT to determine how we can use what we have better and what we need to procure to help business units out. I do not force IT products on them. I let them tell me what they need, and I suggest products that they need. Then I review that with them and say, “Here’s the end result of what you asked for. Does this meet your needs?”
How will your implementation of Sharepoint boost strategic goals?
Trujillo: Sharepoint is now the company’s new intranet and extranet. It’s available internally at the corporate office for larger contracts and is also available on other contracts throughout the company. The goal was to have a single, unified collaboration platform. It allowed us to take all of our shared drives, email, and workflow-processing tasks and combine them into a single portal. It’s still growing and evolving.
The big draw for us is that our third-party CRM tool and our third-party ERP tool will both report into Sharepoint and provide a unified dashboard for users who need that information—including our executive team. We’re positioning our Sharepoint to become the central hub for all company activities, including proposal generation, operational deployment, operational readiness—every unit you can think of from a business standpoint.
How much of an improvement does this initiative provide?
Trujillo: Previously, we used shared drives, email, and phone conversations. There was no document trail. There was no way to control different proposals or contract submissions. There was no standardization between our sites, or between us and the federal government. The old legacy intranet, trying to attach multiple files through attachments—where you get size restrictions—none of that was helping operational efficiency.
So we said, “Let’s get this into the Web 2.0 world—let’s make this a social-driven site and let’s allow people to pull the documents they need when they need them and synchronize them back to the workspace.” We recently completed our first major proposal delivered through Sharepoint. We got great reviews on that. People said they loved the version control and checkout features. We don’t have multiple versions hanging around shared drives any more. That is critical for us.
What other challenges are most pressing right now?
Trujillo: Network standardization is a big deal for each of our contracts. We handle a lot of information deemed FOUO (For Official Use Only). That documentation needs to be protected in different ways. Some contracts have more of that sensitive information and some contracts don’t have any. We’re struggling with how to make our networks fully interoperate with each other and still maintain what is required from a security standpoint. Some contracts say you’ve got to protect information for five years, others say you’ve got to hold it for ten, and some may say you’ve got to hold it in perpetuity.
As we build our consolidated infrastructure, whether it’s through Sharepoint or connecting sites together, we have to make sure that we maintain the security protocol that the contract has called for. Every contract is different. Some are very complicated; some are very simple. It’s an issue that we haven’t solved yet. We’re working very hard on that one.
What solutions are you considering?
Trujillo: We’re working to have a few pilot migrations to the cloud with some accounts. We’re looking at using Office 365. If we can standardize the email system and standardize the way people access the email system and the information that goes over the email system, that’s going to be a big start for us. We still operate heavily with on-premises networks.
The decision to go with Office 365 has not been made yet, though. We’re not sure yet if we’re going to see the operational ROI that we want. If the numbers come back the way I hope they will, we’d like to have the business go to the cloud by Q3 of 2016. That’s going to eliminate different versions of different software packages at different sites. It will eliminate the need for one-touch controls for encrypted emails. It will all be handled at a central location.