Citizen Developer Team Revolutionizes Manual Process, Creates Cloud-Based App

  • Published
  • By Maj. Lindsey Wilkinson
  • USAF Reserve Policy Integration office

Propelling forward the Air Force’s initiative to replace antiquated systems with new cloud-based solutions, a team from the Headquarters Air Force Reserve recently developed and implemented the first customer relationship management (CRM) application built for Air Force Manpower, Personnel, and Services (A1).

The proForce Congressional Inquiries Case Management application, launched in March 2021, streamlines and automates cases and promises to decrease the workload by 60 percent, allowing the USAF Reserve Policy Integration office (AF/REI) to more efficiently process incoming inquires.

The negative effects of outdated technology are felt every day across the Air Force, taking precious time away from the mission. As a result, AF/A1 is working to develop and offer secure cloud-based solutions for systems Airmen use every day, providing technology that works anytime, anywhere, from any device.

When Capt. Karen Cagle, A1X Strategic Communications chief and Talent Management Digital Transformation project officer, was appointed to AF/REI last year, she identified an immediate need for automation and modernization of the Congressional Inquiry process. Cagle knew the Air Force had access to automation and innovation tools and worked to leverage them for AF/REI.

Together with Ms. Hallie Gardner, A1 Presidential Management Fellow, they developed an application prototype in two months using Salesforce, a Federal CRM solution that is currently implemented at the White House, Department of State, Veterans Affairs, the Postal Service, Department of Commerce, and others.

“Previous inquiry operations were labor intensive and time consuming; we were manually tracking requests using Microsoft Outlook and Access like it was 2005,” said Cagle. “It was clearly time for an upgrade and we needed a digital revolution so we could work smarter, not harder!”

The proForce application now allows secure access to high-level Congressional Inquiries and complaints from Congress, the White House, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense from any web-enabled device, 24/7. The centralized data system also aggregates information and provides instant metrics, allowing for quicker resolution of various cases.

“Congress requires accurate, complete, and timely resolution to the inquiries on behalf of their constituents,” said Farris Carlos Hill, USAF Reserve Policy Integration director. “This application is a game-changer that not only impacts the way REI does business, but it can be easily adapted by organizations across the Department of the Air Force to automate hundreds of antiquated processes.”

To help with that effort, Cagle and Gardner are spearheading A1’s Citizen Developer Program, which will empower traditionally non-technical Airmen, like Cagle, to make their ideas a reality by collaborating with information technology directorates to build business applications like proForce.

“Our Airmen have so many great ideas about how to improve our technical infrastructure and the Citizen Developer program can harness them and bring them to fruition,” said Cagle.

Cagle encourages Airmen to contact A1X for more details on the program and the repository.