For those unfamiliar with the term, Integrated Product Teams, commonly called IPT’s, are cross-functional working groups that design a specific product, document, or process. The difference between an IPT and a regular working group is the authority vested in an IPT by its sponsors (usually senior leadership), and that its mission, vision, and goals are officially documented in a formal charter.
Now that our team was tasked with putting together a charter, we had to answer some fundamental questions: first, who would sponsor our IPT? If we were going to create policy and process that would affect the entire acquisition workforce, we would need more than OTIA’s senior leadership to sign our charter. Second, how big should the IPT be, and who would we consider “key members” of the group? Finally, what did we really hope to accomplish at the end of this IPT? What products could we produce to demonstrate success? What outcomes did we hope to achieve by changing the way CBP trains its acquisition workforce?
The first question actually turned out to be the easiest one to solve. Our boss, the XD for OTIA’s acquisition policy, and our Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC, or second in command of a CBP office) had already met with the HCA and had reached a preliminary agreement about forming an IPT. Our senior leadership was also able to convince the DAC at OIT (CBP’s IT office) to sponsor the IPT, which meant that representatives from the CAE, HCA, and CIO had all agreed to sign our charter.
The second question, determining the actual size of the IPT, turned out to be a bit more difficult. Our team figured that there were some acquisition personnel in each of the 16 offices within CBP. Because of the interactions between the three major acquisition offices, we had a decent idea of who we needed on the team from their offices. Because they represented the three major acquisition players, these employees would be the “key members” of the group. For the other 13 offices, we either invited employees who we had interacted with in the past, or contacted the office’s training officers and invited them to our kickoff meeting.
Finally, we had to determine the mission and vision, or what we actually wanted to accomplish, at the conclusion of our IPT. After some thought, we decided that there were three fundamental things that our IPT needed to accomplish:
- Centralize and coordinate policy, process, tools, and procedures
- Capture “snapshot” of CBP’s acquisition workforce
- Coordinate among our sister organizations to achieve CBP-wide buy in
With those broad goals in mind, our team set out to draft our charter and determine what specific, quantifiable goals we would need to achieve.
Next up: we determine the quantifiable goals needed to achieve success, hold our kickoff meeting, and a receive a few words of wisdom from the IPT’s sponsors.