NOAA saves 3 weeks per month by automating acquisition, contract, and budget tracking with Smartsheet Gov
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of the Chief Administrative Officer relies on Smartsheet Gov to simplify tracking of property acquisitions, contracts, and budgets, saving three weeks per month and spending more time on data analysis.
weeks per month saved by eliminating manual processes
“We can just look in Smartsheet Gov to see what’s being proposed, approved, or denied. For budgets, I can quickly see where every dollar was spent in any NOAA office. Smartsheet Gov gives us the kind of visibility and transparency we didn’t have before.”
Data and Technology Program Lead for the Office of Chief Administrative Officer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a federal scientific and regulatory agency responsible for everything from forecasting severe storms to monitoring the climate to managing fisheries. Based within the United States Department of Commerce, NOAA manages six offices: the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Ocean Service, the National Weather Service, the Office of Marine & Aviation Operations, and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.
The NOAA Office of the Chief Administrative Officer (OCAO) plays a critical role in supporting the agency and its offices, providing key services including property acquisition, property management, and budget forecasting. The OCAO depends on Smartsheet Gov to track projects, manage facility acquisitions and business contracts, and collaborate between departments.
“We rely on Smartsheet dashboards and workflows to streamline all our processes and projects and manage projects more efficiently,” says Patrick Holt, data and technology program lead for the office of chief administrative officer at NOAA.
Previously, Holt and his team used several different software tools to manage projects, budgets, and contracts. “We used calendars, email, chat, and other tools to try and track everything, and we weren’t very successful,” Holt says. “For example, for budgets and acquisitions, we often lost track of where things were in the process. We also had siloed departments, with disparate processes, so we had problems passing projects from one team to the next because we weren’t sure who was working on what. Project management overall was highly inefficient.”
Collaborating with M2 Strategy to Manage Critical Tasks in Smartsheet Gov
Holt discovered Smartsheet Gov after speaking with a colleague about the software’s benefits. “Smartsheet seemed to do a lot of things we couldn’t do with our existing project management solutions, and it also seemed to allow for much more collaboration because it’s completely web-based,” he says.
Shortly after adopting Smartsheet Gov, the OCAO engaged its longtime technology partner M2 Strategy (M2). M2, a technology and management consulting firm focused on modernization for federal clients, worked with the OCAO acquisition team to use Smartsheet Gov forms and dashboards to streamline how the office manages office acquisitions and contracts. The OCAO tracks all acquisitions and related contracts in Smartsheet Gov, with budget teams providing updates throughout the process. All acquisition projects and contracts are integrated with the office’s contracting system.
The OCAO relies on Smartsheet Control Center to manage the budgeting process from intake to approval, and the office’s safety and environmental compliance team relies on Control Center to manage field safety audits for more than 400 sites. “Performing safety audits is a very repetitive, manual process,” says Holt. “Using Smartsheet Gov, we can do multiple audits over and over with the same template.”
The OCAO uses workflow automation in Smartsheet Gov to fleet management tasks, such as managing the large fleet of vehicles used by all NOAA offices. Additionally, the OCAO uses Data Shuttle by Smartsheet to upload acquisition and contract data from more than 50 data sources into Smartsheet Gov every two weeks. With this data, M2 helped create dashboards for reporting for executive managers in the OCAO. Through the dashboards, managers can quickly view the real-time status of acquisition projects, contracts, and budgets.
A Real-time View of Project, Contract, and Budget Status
Using Smartsheet Gov, Holt and his team have real-time visibility into the status of all acquisitions, contracts, and budgets. “We can just look in Smartsheet Gov to see what’s being proposed, approved, or denied,” he says. “For budgets, I can quickly see where every dollar was spent in any NOAA office. Smartsheet Gov gives us the kind of visibility and transparency we didn’t have before.”
Similarly, executive managers can view updated contract and budget information for all current and future acquisition projects.
“Our executives don’t always have time to reach out to a project manager for an update,” says Holt. “Smartsheet Gov dashboards give them an opportunity to quickly check in and see what’s going on with any of our projects.”
This visibility also helps the OCAO plan more effectively for the future, because leaders can look at important contracts and proactively pinpoint issues that might need to be addressed. “Instead of looking at a bunch of separate acquisition forms, executives can see a high-level view of the top 25 contracts for each category,” Holt says.
Streamlined Processes Save 3 Weeks per Month
Smartsheet Gov has helped the OCAO streamline its acquisition, contract management, and fleet management processes, eliminating time previously spent manually gathering and analyzing information from disparate sources. “We don’t spend our time collecting data anymore, because Smartsheet Gov presents it all in one place for anyone to view,” says Holt. As an example, the OCAO has streamlined its process for tracking undelivered obligations, which shows budget remaining for certain projects. “That process used to take up to 12 days, because the person in charge of it had to reach out to different people to find out where money was spent. Now, this data is automatically displayed in Smartsheet Gov,” says Holt. “This easily saves us three weeks of work every month.” In addition, the office’s fleet management and field safety audit teams can view and analyze project and contract data in real time, instead of spending weeks gathering that information.
By saving time through eliminating manual processes, the OCAO is focusing more on data analysis and is more efficient overall.
“Some of our teams have lost employees over the past several years, but because of Smartsheet Gov we don’t have to replace those workers,” says Holt. “Smartsheet Gov breaks down the siloes we used to have and makes our entire organization much more efficient.”