Digital Transformation: How Paper-Based Processes Slow Down Decision Making in the U.S. Military

Paper-based processes

The U.S. military, known for its cutting-edge technology and innovative strategies, still relies on outdated paper-based processes for many purposes. These processes perpetuate bureaucracy and slow down decision making, negatively impacting the speed and efficiency of military operations. This blog post summarizes  key findings from a variety of reports and studies that highlight the negative effects of paper-based processes in the military and explores the potential benefits of embracing digital transformation. 

Here are five specific examples of areas where paper-based processes continue to persist in the military:

  1. Personnel Records Management: The military maintains records for millions of service members and civilian employees. These records include personal information, training records, and evaluations. While some records have been digitized, many are still maintained on paper, leading to inefficiencies in accessing, updating, and sharing information.
  2. Medical Records: The DoD and VA have struggled with exchanging medical information due to outdated, paper-based health record systems. Transitioning to an integrated EHR system is crucial for improving the efficiency and quality of healthcare services for military personnel and veterans.
  3. Procurement and Contracting: The procurement and contracting process in the military involves a copious amount of paperwork, including requests for proposals, contracts, and supporting documentation. These paper-based processes can lead to delays and inefficiencies in the acquisition of goods and services.
  4. Maintenance and Equipment Tracking: Military units are responsible for tracking and maintaining a vast array of equipment, from vehicles to weapons systems. Although some digital systems have been implemented, many units still rely on paper-based processes to track maintenance schedules, equipment inventory, spare parts, and supply chain information.
  5. Training and Education Records: The military invests heavily in training and education for its personnel. However, many training records, certifications, and educational achievements are still maintained on paper, making it difficult to quickly access and share this information when needed.

Let’s delve deeper into the impact of these paper-based processes on military efficiency and explore how digital transformation can help address these challenges.

The Impact of Paper-Based Processes on Military Efficiency

Paper-based processes in various areas of military operations have resulted in inefficiencies, hindering the overall effectiveness of the U.S. military. One major area of concern is the reliance on outdated health record systems in the DoD and VA. According to a 2015 GAO report, these paper-based systems have led to significant delays in exchanging medical information between the two departments, negatively impacting the quality of healthcare services for military personnel and veterans.

In addition to healthcare, the growth in the DoD’s overhead and administrative costs has been partly attributed to bureaucratic inefficiencies stemming from paper-based processes. A 2015 Defense Business Board report highlighted the need for digitizing processes and adopting automation to streamline operations and reduce costs.

By transitioning to digital systems, the military can improve the accuracy and speed across operations, enhancing overall efficiency and effectiveness in the field.

The Potential Benefits of Digital Transformation in the Military

Embracing digital transformation can yield numerous benefits for the U.S. military, including:

  • Streamlined Administrative Processes: By digitizing paperwork, the military can eliminate bottlenecks and improve the speed and accuracy of administrative tasks, such as processing requisitions, orders, and other logistics-related activities.
  • Enhanced Communication: Digital systems facilitate real-time communication and collaboration among military personnel, enabling faster decision making and more efficient coordination of operations.
  • Improved Data Analysis: Digital data can be more easily analyzed and visualized, providing military leaders with valuable insights for making informed decisions and optimizing resource allocation.
  • Cost Savings: A 2015 Defense Business Board report highlights that the DoD could save up to $125B over 5 years by implementing digital technologies and reducing bureaucracy.

In Summary

Despite its strength in advanced technology, the U.S. military still has opportunities to upgrade from paper-based processes and take advantage of digital transformation’s potential for streamlined operations, better informed decision making, and increased efficiency overall – helping them stay ahead of a changing global landscape with their strategic edge intact. 

While some of the studies cited above are a few years old, the imperative to change the trajectory of digital process automation in the DoD remains today. An investment in modernizing through creative innovation can ensure America’s armed forces remain top notch.

Talk with us at Kinetic Data. We’ll help with paper-based digital transformation needs whenever you are ready.