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Procurement analyst’s business intelligence acquisition tool simplifies data collection process

  • Published
  • By Courtney Combs
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – Air Force contracting professionals know how tedious inputting data into a spreadsheet can be. Brandon Harris, a procurement analyst for the 50th Contracting Squadron at Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, might have found a better way: a tool that consolidates data from seven systems into one. 

The business intelligence tool allows acquisition personnel to directly download information instead of manually entering data, reducing effort, redundancies and inaccuracies. With this single-source system, contracting specialists can direct their focus on finding mission-critical solutions that accelerate change and enhance overall lethality and readiness.

Harris currently supports the contract writing system, analyzes procurement data, projects procurement trends and manages data collection projects for the 50th CONS. He’s also one of eight finalists for the 2022 Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Innovation Rodeo.

We asked him a few questions about his idea, innovation and his thoughts about coming to San Antonio for the AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo.

Q: What is the name of your idea? 
Using Business Intelligence Tools to Improve Acquisition Visibility.

Q: What is the problem you’re solving? 
Air Force contracting units dedicate thousands of hours inputting data into Excel tabs. This method often creates inaccuracies and wasted effort because the data already exists in a system of record. There are multiple systems of record that lack compatibility between them when running consolidated reports. All acquisition systems use different language and filtering capabilities which require time-consuming corrections when combining reports.

Q: What is your solution to that problem? 
I propose using a business intelligence tool that downloads information from all acquisition systems and combines them into one useable database. The tool will present the information in coherent charts, graphs and tables. This will solve the wasted effort problem because contracting personnel will no longer spend time manually inputting data. It solves the accuracy problem by downloading information directly from official systems of record that implement data checks to verify accuracy.

Q: How did you come up with the idea? 
I came up with this idea when I saw how many different Excel tabs contracting officers were responsible for updating daily. I asked myself, “Why are we spending so much time updating these tabs when this information can already be found in a system?” Then, I realized the information was not stored in just one system, but seven different systems. I want to consolidate information into one location that tells the entire story of a contract from beginning to end. 

Q. How will your idea help the Air Force deliver installation and mission support capabilities, improve installations or support families in a better way? 
It will repurpose millions of dollars and thousands of hours. It will improve mission effectiveness through time reduction at the local level as well as reducing errors through an automated, centralized process benefitting the entire Air Force. It will also improve morale by allowing contracting personnel to focus on more complex acquisition issues instead of filling out antiquated status reports. 

Q. How does it feel to be selected as a finalist for the 2022 Innovation Rodeo? 
It’s exciting! I’ll be the only one from contracting pitching an idea, so I’ll be representing the entire acquisition community. Furthermore, there is some tough competition this year. My idea of building a consolidated acquisition database is going against people pitching autonomous tractors, wearable non-lethal defense systems and solar-powered contingency networks. It feels like a “David vs. Goliath” situation, and I love being the underdog!

Q. You’ll be spending a week in San Antonio, learning from leading innovators, collaborating with industry partners and networking with peers, senior leaders and innovation teams. What are you hoping to gain from that experience? 
When it comes to complex problems, I look for solutions through my own lens based on my knowledge and experience. I’m hoping to gain new perspectives and insights from the attendees that I can apply to future innovation projects. I’m also hoping to build relationships I can use after the rodeo is over. Finally, I’m looking forward to taking what I learn from this week back to my squadron and help educate others on how to submit innovative ideas for next year’s AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo.

Q: Why do you think innovation and a culture change that empowers Airmen and Guardians is important in today’s Air and Space Forces? 
Innovation is key to staying ahead of our adversaries and I believe we need it to succeed on the battlefield. People can get complacent in their job and their mindset towards change. There are great ideas in the Air Force that never get a chance to get off the ground because someone didn’t like change and thought, “This is the way we’ve always done it.” We need to approach change with an open mind and get people to think, “How can we do this better?”

Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
I’m honored to be selected as one of only eight finalists.

The 2022 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo will be streamed live on Aug. 19. For more information on the rodeo, visit https://www.afimsc.af.mil/innovationrodeo/.