On March 29, 2019, 80 employees attended a Continuous Improvement (CI) workshop hosted by Human Resources. Ryan King, Manager, Housing Occupancy and Operations, and Kierra Cali, Operations Project Manager from St. Jerome’s University presented on continuous improvement projects they have implemented in their departments.
King began the session by introducing the Accessible Housing Process and identifying issues that Waterloo Residences had to solve. They identified a need to increase collaboration between Waterloo Residences and AccessAbility Services, as well as participate in a process mapping exercise. During the exercise, Lean principles were implemented to identify day-to-day waste (processes that do not add value) and improve transparency within the Accessible Housing Process for staff and students. With the new process, Waterloo Residences saw an improvement in staff engagement, greater opportunities for students and families, and a more welcoming environment.
King also introduced two frameworks for teams: PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) and DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyze-Implement-Control). These models focus on problem solving for CI, which has allowed them to eliminate waste and focus on value added experiences that can increase the effectiveness and efficiency of processes.
Cali started her presentation by differentiating between problem managing and problem solving. She explained the main difference by providing an example of feeling sick. One symptom we may experience is having a fever so we may choose to take a cool bath. However, that doesn’t solve the problem, it manages the symptom. In problem solving, it’s important to identify the root cause of the problem by breaking it down to know why it’s occurring.
With this understanding, Cali and the Accounting department at St. Jerome’s worked together to clarify why their processes were not being completed at the end of each month. They broke down the problem by identifying errors in their processes such as inconsistent mailroom procedures, vendor challenges, and missed invoices. Working within the PDCA framework, they developed a problem statement and created an improvement plan to identify small changes that they could incrementally apply to a new process. As a result, they were able to reduce waste and deliver increased value to their employees and clients.
If you’re interested in learning more about continuous improvement projects across campus, keep an eye out for our upcoming Lean events. Please contact Kimberley Snage or Raghda Sabry for any questions.