To mark the first twelve months of the existence of the Process Improvement Unit, our Steering Group requested an additional meeting, so that we could update them on our progress.
We started by talking about the number of staff we have managed to involve in process improvement projects (95 staff directly involved in projects and a further 119 contacted/interviewed/invited to give personal opinion). The steering group were pleased to see that almost 50% of academic departments and professional services had been involved in process improvement projects to date. We discussed some of the challenges, which were anticipated, and largely similar to the experiences of other organisations. This included looking at institutional culture, middle management engagement and attitudes towards continuous improvement.
We then updated the group on the outcomes of the projects we have run to date. Every single project had efficiencies to report, in process time, opportunity costs (staff time) and meeting customer requirements much more effectively than the old processes. There were also cash savings, in reducing inventory, paperwork, and overprocessing. We quoted one of our project managers “I would definitely recommend the PIU and the methodologies they use particularly for projects where stakeholders come lots of different areas of the University”.
The VC (chair of the steering group) was pleased to hear that departments are approaching us with ideas for process improvement projects; and steered us to continue to run projects at the request of university staff.
In the next twelve months we will be delivering a number of training sessions, to raise awareness for middle managers and to help staff understand some of the lean tools and techniques, so that they can become more confident in improving their own processes.
We were encouraged to celebrate our success (watch this space) and to identify opportunities to engage with senior managers in the institution, so that they can hear about successes and also enable some of the wider lessons learned to be fed back to heads of department.It's been a busy year, lots of groundwork to set up the unit, and establish good practice. We are looking forward to the next twelve months, helping people to improve their business processes, engaging with other areas of the department and continuously improving our own professional practice.