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Analytics Automation Empowers Critical Business Functions Within the DoD

Within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), multiple agencies  track and confront the challenges and threats related to  the  protection of the United States  and our  alliesTo stay ahead of a multitude of threats  —  ranging from  weapons of mass destructions (WMD) terrorism criminal  networks,  and rogue nation states  —  means that agencies within the  DoD require  innovative capabilities to deploy agile, world-class analytics. 


To be truly effective, the insights created from analytical solutions must be sourced from many diverse systems and resources and must be readily shared and consumed across a wide ecosystem of agencies, partners, and operational teams. The following is summary of how the Alteryx Analytic Process Automation (APA) Platform is enabling a DoD agency, analysts, line of business leaders, and data science teams with the capability to research, find answers, and empower operational decisions with actionable insights.

From threat detection
 to decision support, employee health, physical security, and human resources, the APA Platform is enabling this agency to tackle current challenges and is better preparing them to address evolving and newly emerging ones. 

Working together with our partner Northstrat, innovative analytics are being deployed across the DoD to ensure these organizationhave the insights needed to manage their financial health, protect their workforce, improve readinessincrease diversityelevate physical security, and detect and deter threats.  


Stronger Financial Health


To combat weapons of mass destruction and emerging threats, programs require financial resources to be authorized, appropriated, and executed in accordance with the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) guidanceWhile missions and programs are unique, Northstrat found that many of the challenges financial managers were facing are similar in nature.  


Supporting a research and development directorate, Northstrat discovered that the financial planning and management of resources was being executed in spreadsheets. Not only did this hinder data transparency, it also was often inconsistent, incorrect, or incompleteTo address the challenges faced by the customer, Northstrat developed analytical workflows to prepare and blend multiple data sources and extract a single output which is visualized through a multitude of dashboards.


This workflow not only provides a single source of truth, but it is also available in real-time, visible through the dashboards. Increasing the data transparency and utilization of the data, the accuracy of the data also increased. The automation of the analysis, specifically the prepping and joining of underlying data,significantly reduced the manual efforts of financial managers comparing multiple spreadsheets and reports.  


Tackling Mission Challenges


Military service members, civilians, and contractor personnel are critical to mission success. Therefore, tracking employee data, training, education, health, and equal opportunity is critical to having a robust workforce. In one use case, the Alteryx platform is used to ingest extractsacross Manpower systems on a weekly and monthly schedule. Alteryx is used to verify the information is dated correctly and validate the parent-child hierarchy before the data is exported to a SQL data warehouse. This ensures that the data used for decision support is valid and errors are reduced.


Workforce Training and Education


Upskilling and continuing education for employees helps organizations build the talent they need to support their missions. Getting a handle on what educational offerings are being consumed and how individual employees are progressing was necessary to inform recruiting decisions and employee training offerings


Within this organization, using data from employee directories, SQL Server tables, and multiple spreadsheets, Alteryx ithen used to compile existing employee data and transfer it to an external training system. As employees progress across their course of studies, this information is ingested back into existing personnel systems through Alteryx by being outputted through several SQL Server tables, Excel files, and managethrough automated emails in Outlook. The insight provided through this process enable management and human resources to better collaborate on training needs for the organization and the individual skills of each employee.


Protecting Employee Health


The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted workforces across both the public and private sector.  As organizations look to return to the new normal”, keeping employees safe has become a critical priority. As agencies within the Domake decisions on return to office timelines, tracking the distribution of vaccines across the workforce is a critical piece of insight decision makers require to ensure they are protecting their workforce.

Using Alteryx, Northstrat developed a workflow to 
blend disparate data sources such as SharePoint lists, employee directoriesExcel files, and SQL Server tablesSeveral Alteryx tools were used in the workflow to output to a single data source that is visualized in a dashboard by senior leadership. 
During the pandemic, it was even more critical to maintain a secure physical work environment to protect employee health while still supporting the mission. Building access control became a priority for many supervisors. In this caseAlteryx is used to load and join building access requests and security badging data across multiple locations and access points. Alteryx joins data from SharePoint, CSV Files, and HR systems to create discrete viewof entry requests by directorate,department, and building which are automatically emailed to supervisorsSupervisors can use the data to inform mission resourcing divisions and protect the health and safety of the workforce.


Strength in Diversity and Opportunity

Ensuring that a workforce is as strong as it can be requires specific insight into how diverse it is. But insights are not enough —the federal government is required annually to comply, report, and track progress against diversity and Equal Opportunity (EO) goals. In the past, this information was tracked manually across 20 different EO spreadsheets. To process this information to meet the compliance deadlines took several months of manual work


With the Alteryx platform, Northstrat was able to streamline the regulatory reporting process, automating the parsing, grouping, filtering, and summarization of EEO reporting requirements.In addition, the organization was able to automate the process while creating deeper insights across a multitude of factors including: 

  • Race, ethnicity, and sex

  • Occupation categories to include mission critical occupations

  • General schedule (GS) grades 

  • Salary levels 

  • Nehires and separations (Retirement, Resignation, Removal) 

  • Disability by occupational categories, grades, and salary



Empowering Employee Engagement


Managing an employee appraisal process can be complicated and adding to thchallenge is ensuring that the process is transparent, free of errors, and delivered in a timely fashion. Within a DoD agencyAlteryx is used to processes the submission and approval of the 2021 performance appraisals and awards


With Alteryx, the agency can confirm the accuracy of the appraisal process for thousands of personnel, while allocating millions of dollars of performance award funds. With Alteryx,the agencies’ Performance Management Program (PMP) was able to track in real time by department what percentage of appraisals were complete or incomplete and where each department was in the process. With this information, the PMP was able to provide the quickest approval turnaround ever for the Agency and it guaranteed the correct recognition for all personnel in a timely fashion.


For management, Alteryx was able to provide/build/develop and feed several dashboards for its customer to share insightrelated to PMPincentivestraining objectives, and job classification. This enabled the customer to ensure timely feedback to personnel, and allocate pay increase and bonuses in a timely manner that was difficult to manage prior to the use of the Alteryx platform. The highlights of the metrics Alteryx were able to compile, measure, and deliver include:

Plan Status dashboard displays counts and details of the Plan Status (Approved, Initiated, Modified, No Plan, Pending, or Reapproved) for Performance Appraisal Yearly Goals
Overall dashboard displays Total, Completed (Count & Percentage), In Progress Counts, and Percentage Open Appraisals
Summary of Metrics (Outstanding & Fully Successful Rating Counts, Average Cash Award Given & Per Capita, Total TOA Hours & Cash Value, Average TOA Hours Given and Per Capita, Average TOA Cash Value Given & Per Capita, Count & Cash Value of QSIs, and Total Award Value

Incentive Awards
Percentage, Counts, and Total Dollars of Incentive Award by Category and Directorate
Training Checkbook and Accountability (TCAT)
Percentages for Tuition & Travel amounts executed
Total dollars for Tuition & Travel amounts remaining
Employee training details by directorate for Training Type, Dates, and Approval Status

Position Classification Status by Directorate and Type of Status for every Position
Counts of Types of Submission (New PD, Pen & Ink, Re-Description, Statement of Difference) by Status (Pending, Complete)
Classification Counts (Request, Completed, Pending, Average Days to Finalize)
Classification Submission Average Number of Days


Yes, Alteryx can do a lot of things, but what this story shows is that Alteryx and Northstrat enable organizations within the DoD to tackle mission critical operations and business functions that allow these agencies to automate the insights needed to enable data-driven decision making to operate more efficiently and impact mission outcomes, keeping this county and our allies safe. In addition to cutting-edge software that helps keep our country safe from emerging threats, intelligence and analytical investments recoup the return on investment quickly when partnered with the right integration services. 


Northstrat, Incorporated, is a dynamic small business founded in 2006 and was rated a Washington Post 2020-2021 Top Workplace in the National Capital Region. Northstrat specializes in software development, systems integration, systems engineering, DevSecOps, and Business Intelligence and Analytic solution development. As a services-oriented company, Northstrat prides itself on being a trusted, independent integrator of mission solutions to the Intelligence Community (IC), Department of Defense (DoD), and the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Over 90% of Northstrat staff hold Top Secret or higher clearances
 and co-locate with geographically dispersed customers at remote sitesNorthstrat takes pride in the exceptional CPARS they have received from their customers. Northstrat engineers’ unique experiences in collaborating with end-users to understand and better define their problem and provide the appropriate solutions through the Continuous Integration/ Continuous Delivery process. This has created a track record of success with delivering solution development services across the IC, DoD, and DoJ.



Want to learn more about Alteryx?


Watch this two-minute video.  


Lisa Durant can be reached directly:Lisa.Durant@northstrat.com





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