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The headstones at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC)—the only national cemetery to hold servicemembers from every war in U.S. history—are iconic.
For Lori Shah, a business process consultant, the view of ANC is also one of active change. To better serve the four million visitors each year, Lori and her team are reforming decades-old systems, converting paper records into digital databases, and making other changes to improve ANC's management and record keeping. Most visibly, they helped refresh ANC's website and launch a new mobile app featuring a visual map of the grounds and new search capabilities.
These changes (and more) are the outcome of a 2010 evaluation the Department of Defense conducted identifying untapped opportunities to increase accountability. For each new project, Lori and her team build business cases outlining how the efforts involved, including time, testing, and training, to support big baseline changes are worth the long-term benefits. The knowledge that these upgrades ultimately benefit military families keeps Lori's motivation high.
“Before the upgrade, ANC's website displayed basic information—operating hours and tour reservations. The new site allows people to search for a servicemember by name and see where they're buried via a virtual map. Implementing the new website and app was a big step in bringing this historic cemetery in line with today's technology—enhancing accessibility, efficiency, and accountability to the public,” says Lori.
The most rewarding part of her job is the opportunity to serve families who are burying and/or visiting a loved one. “It’s challenging, humbling, and gratifying. Making their experience at ANC as seamless as possible is my number one priority.”
Lori also enjoys advocating for big changes and watching them come to fruition, like digitizing records. “I help the client understand that the impact five, ten, fifteen years from now is worth the extra time and money upfront.”