Process improvement is an approach used to improve workflow by increasing efficiency and effectiveness within and across organizations.
As our operating principles state we should continuously move “Toward a more together, innovative, simplified, accountable, and service-oriented workplace”. It is my belief that we can reach that goal by creating a culture of continuous improvement. How do we get there?
- Make the Invisible Visible. Document the work.
- Ask ourselves if there is room for improvement. Analyze the work.
- Ask for feedback from stakeholders.
- Use a framework and methodology that is easy to use and gives the users basic tools to improve processes.
In March of 2014 the first BPI 101 – The Essentials workshop was designed and delivered to the Berkeley Catalysts. In the workshop participants learn how to:
- Document processes.
- Use core analysis tools to identify areas where improvements are needed.
- Collect feedback from stakeholders.
Over 343 employees have attended the workshop, including 11 employees from UCSF. Some participants were recently surveyed and over 70% said that they have used the tools they learned. 60% said that they have improved 2-4 processes, 21% have improved between 5-20 processes and 15% have improved 1 process.
When asked how they used the tools and the impact on them or their unit:
“Used the methodology to understand an existing paper-based process. We then worked on how the process would be improved, and I used the improved process to build logic for a feature enhancement in an application.”
“I’ve been able to adapt the tools to projects –clarifying scope, roles/responsibilities, and focusing on processes to analyze and not people and their errors.”
“The client I worked with was very impressed with the process I used and asked why other development teams had not used it and they said they wanted to begin using it for other processes. I was impressed with how effective it was to help me describe the logic for an application.”
“Our department is now looking at most of their operational and project work in terms of process improvement. Staff and management have begun looking at their work in terms of process improvement. The department has moved from a ‘just-fix-it’ thought to a ‘how-can-we-improve-this-process-to-make-things-better’ for our staff and our customers. The focus on process has created a more team oriented environment and helped us to make decisions that incorporate many units together and the department as a whole.”
“I felt like in class I had that “aha moment” of understanding BPI (Business Process Improvement) and putting it to work in my own realm of expertise. It gave me a better understanding of how to go about BPI, and an insight into what I had seen and been a part of when past BPI projects have gone well – or gone off the rails…”
“Helps organize ideas/thoughts; Helps identify gaps with existing processes; Helps identify gaps when developing new processes; Creates consistency.”
“I gained knowledge and confidence to work in a group to identify areas for improvement and then agree on next steps. This work is especially useful in presenting a case for change and can be a spring board for writing a project charter.”
For those of you who have attended the workshop remember that one of the 8 Wastes of Lean is Non-Utilized Talents- Underutilization of people’s talents, skills and knowledge. So if you are not using what you learned you are wasting resources. If your manager or supervisor isn’t tapping into your new skills they are wasting resources. At a minimum, document the processes that you are responsible for, identify waste and pain, develop recommendations and share what you have done with your manager and ask them if they are interested in improving other processes.