Five Stages of UID Adoption
A2B Tracking Solutions entered the UID market as a solution provider early on. Our Board Chairman was a member of the integrated product team (IPT) working with the DoD UID Program Office, and as a bar code pioneer he saw the value of UID, not only to the military but also to their suppliers.
Since 2003, when we first began development of the groundbreaking UID Comply!® data management software, we have talked with many thousands of professionals who are being impacted by UID. We have co-sponsored and exhibited at every UID Forum and spoken at dozens of professional meetings across the US and aboard. We have worked tirelessly to educate those who need to know about AIT (Automatic Identification Technology) and UID best practice through our UID Quarterly Newsletter and numerous articles. And we talk daily with UID practitioners, from those who manage legacy equipment for whole military services such as the Air Force and the Marine Corps to manufacturers who need UID labels in order to ship product.
What we have noted is a five-stage process that virtually everyone goes through on their way to UID literacy. Those stages look something like this:
- GET HELP!
- GET SMART
- GET ORGANIZED
- GET TO WORK
- KEEP IT WORKING
We know we’re dealing with someone in the HELP stage when we hear uncertainty and a strong need to get answers to questions such as these: What do I need to know? Where can I go to learn what I need to know? How is this going to impact my organization? What happens if I don’t implement UID? And finally, we hear fear – Why me? What will this mean for my career?
Understand that these are normal reactions when faced with mandatory change. And UID isn’t just any change; rather it represents a whole new paradigm. As the saying goes, old habits die hard and we might add, few habits die harder than entrenched business practices. The HELP stage is, therefore, a normal reaction. There is no shame in asking for help. The only risk is in seeking help from unreliable sources.
We don’t recommend that OEMS involve the DCMA at this stage, although that time will come later. Instead we suggest reaching out to the industry for an understanding of technology components and UID obligations. Those who are in the trenches every day, working to solve UID requirement issues, are the best bet for advice at this stage. The experts are easily recognizable.
This second stage of UID adoption is marked by acceptance and a strong need to understand what is involved in compliance. In this stage soon-to-be UID professionals ask questions such as these: What is it that I REALLY must know? What is the scope of UID? What are the most important aspects of UID policy and FAR obligations? What can I avoid knowing?
We find that as individuals become more immersed in UID implementation their attitudes shift from avoidance and the desire to learn as little as possible, to wanting to understand and a growing intrigue about the robust benefits of UID.
By the time individuals reach this third stage of adoption, they are taking charge of the change. As a result they are often immersed in coordination and planning decisions and anxious to gain organizational acceptance (commercial and government personnel). This often involves learning about the resources available to them and the hurdles they can expect to meet along the road to compliance.
This stage is characterized by questions such as these: Who do I need to involve, both inside and outside the organization? Is there adequate expertise inside, or do we need to look outside for additional help? How do I get everyone to agree on a path forward? Where will I find the resources to fund the UID initiative? How will I keep up with UID policy, technology and DoD system changes?
OEMs should begin to involve their DCMA representatives near the end of this stage. Now there is the confidence to speak with a certain amount of authority and more than likely there is an initial plan in place.
GO TO WORK
The individual at this stage has reached a critical juncture. After all the education and planning, they ask themselves – Will the pieces fall into place? This stage is characterized by a strong need for predictability as the plan goes into effect, often with limited resources and looming deadlines.
Common questions at this stage are these: How do I keep everyone on task? What technologies or services are required that weren’t planned for? How will I handle unexpected challenges? How will I learn about and adjust for ongoing UID policy, FAR and DoD system updates?
We find that although this stage is ripe with anxiety, there is also excitement. Many UID leads who have taken the project to this point sense the career building opportunity that has come their way, and armed with that potential they begin to think creatively.
At this stage, pilot efforts help to gain organizational learning. It is a good idea to find champions within the organization, those who can benefit from UID, and enlist them to amplify the message that this change is good. A bigger bandwagon ensures a less lonely position for the UID lead.
KEEP IT WORKING
By the time many UID professionals have reached this stage, they have crossed the chasm. Now, no longer consumed with implementation and planning, there is hope that the pieces they have put into place will stay relevant in the face of policy changes. Many of these individuals also begin to understand the benefits of UID within their organizations, beyond mere compliance, and they begin to plan for the future.
But in the short run, questions at this stage are often these: How will we implement and monitor a sustainment plan? What are the challenges that seem to be looming? What quality controls will be required going forward?
Whatever your stage, know that you are helping to make economic history. Think about the grocery store before bar code, if you can remember back then. With the efficiencies afforded by UID and utilized by industry as a whole, nothing will operate quite the same in the future. Your grandchildren will be amazed that once upon a time a tank could get lost.