Team sets up NMCI 'boot camp'

Navy NMCI site

Admitting that mistakes were made in preparing users during the initial rollout of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, the NMCI director's office this week said it is trying help ease the pain associated with moving to the enterprisewide network.

Navy Cmdr. Brion Tyler, who leads a transition team the NMCI director's office formed last fall, said many commands and Navy sites were unprepared for NMCI and probably did not have the proper knowledge beforehand to make a smooth transition.

The transition team has been providing users with documents and resources and also has traveled across the country to help commands switch from legacy systems to NMCI.

What has emerged from the team's work is a six-month quasi-boot camp, where individuals who will be moving to NMCI can learn all they need to know before the move actually takes place.

Future users of NMCI are given their first "preparing for NMCI" briefing six months before their scheduled cutover date. A subsequent briefing takes place 60 to 90 days beforehand. Then, a cutover readiness review is performed before the actual transition.

Tyler said that throughout this process, users can contact any one of dozens of individuals to answer questions.

"We want the customers to access this information," Tyler said of thick packet of information his team has prepared. "If they can each take a half day to peruse through the material, they will be very prepared."

Tyler said the ease of the transition now depends largely on the preparedness of the individual. Commanders can schedule NMCI "road shows" to visit their command sites to brief future users, or they can have their subordinates attend an NMCI user conference.

Capt. Chris Christopher, NMCI staff director, admitted that the Navy underestimated the difficulty associated with rolling out the new network. However, he noted that the transition team's work has made it considerably less difficult in the past several months.

"We did not do as good a job as we could have done," he said. "We thought it would be like a GSA schedule and did not realize, as we should have, that this marked a major cultural change."

Christopher said the culture that had pervaded the Navy during the past several decades — each command handling its own technology and data needs — ran counter to NMCI's core mission of consolidation to one standard, secure system.

The main factor influencing the ease of transition, Christopher said, is leadership of the command. "Leadership is probably the single most important factor in how the transition works," he said. "There have been difficult transitions with good commanders, but all things being equal, real leadership is most effective."

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