Friday, 30 January 2015

Leah’s Green Belt Training Blog

Last week I was lucky enough to travel down to beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon and undertake a four-day Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training course.

After an introduction to the basics of Lean and Six Sigma the course followed the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control) project roadmap, describing the different stages and the methodology that underpins them.

As there was only a small group of us, the training was relaxed and informal, allowing us to ask questions and discuss our own experiences freely. It was interesting to see that we had all experienced similar challenges when trying to implement process improvement changes and this encouraged us to discuss our different methods for avoiding or correcting these. The course was delivered largely via presentation with numerous group and individual activities that encouraged us to put the theories into practice.
We were extremely spoilt throughout the training with refreshments and two course lunches, my ham sandwich on Monday didn’t quite match up.  

At first, I feared that we would not cover all the material as heavy emphasis was put on the first two stages (define and measure). After completing the course I understand that this was necessary as they are the two most important stages, when completing a successful improvement project.  

Whilst in Stratford I could not resist going to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform so I booked a ticket to see Love’s Labour’s Won for the Monday night. The theatre, play and the cast were absolutely brilliant, so much so that I went again on Thursday night to see Love’s Labour’s Lost.

It was pleasing to see that PIU are already following much of the methodology and techniques outlined, particularly from the Lean aspect. However it was very interesting to gain a greater understanding of Six Sigma methodologies and how the two compliment one another.

Key things I learnt:
  • The importance of defining a project’s scope at the beginning in order to ensure that all involved understand and agree what part of the problem or process they are going to look at and why. It will also ensure that the problem is realistic and manageable with regards to the time frame and resources available. This will then allow you to understand what the project wants to achieve, what information you need, how customers will be affected and how we can measure the current state and any improvements.
  • The course emphasised the importance of understanding and engaging all project stakeholders (anyone who might be affected by or may affect the project) right from the start to ensure project success and engagement. Engaging project stakeholders is not always straightforward. It is not always clear who the project stakeholders are and the importance of the project and suggested improvements is not always recognised. This is why it is important to carry out clear and concise communications with all potential stakeholders.
  • Embedding change following a process improvement project is crucial to maintain and further improve the process. Encouraging everyone to openly discuss problems that have arisen and ideas for further improvement will reduce the tendency for individuals to self prescribe fixes to any problems that arise, preventing the formation of a non-standard process. Mapping out the new process, documenting the changes that have been made, including measures of success and checks to the new process and ideas for future improvements can help to achieve this.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

UCISA - Project and Change Management Group, January Meeting

The Project and Change Management Group was set up to provide a forum for the discussion, development and dissemination of information on best practice approaches to project management, change management and related activities within UK higher and further education institutions We aim to meet as a committee every quarter. Edinburgh Napier University hosted January 2015 meeting. As ever it was a packed agenda (the minutes and agendas of all of the meeting are available via UCISAs website

The main agenda items were the Effective Risk Management Guide; this was published just before Christmas and is the second formal output form this group. We have a couple more in the pipeline, which is very exciting.

The other major item was planning for our first formal event, this will be held on 10 June 2015, with the title "Project and Change Management - why bother?" We are finalising speakers and workshops, and look forward to releasing the agenda shortly.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

New Year, New PIU

From the beginning of January we have a slightly improved structure within the Process Improvement Unit. There are still two Process Improvement Coordinators within the Unit, our role is to facilitate improvement projects, deliver training and help people within the university think about process. We have a new Assistant Co-ordinator who will help to facilitate projects, be more involved with data collection and deliver some of the training. The project support role has changed slightly, but still enables us to do a lot of the admin support for projects and training (including scheduling of all meetings and writing up/ recording outputs).

We hope that the changes will help us offer a better service to the university. It should give us more flexibility, and help us run projects and training quickly (at the time our customers want it to happen). We are becoming increasingly interested in benefits realisation; the new structure provides more resource for data collection and analysis (quantitative and qualitative), we will continue to do this using a lean approach (avoiding unnecessary bureaucracy, over processing and over burden).

We will also be doing some work to continue to improve our own internal processes and to ensure that our standard work is still fit for purpose for the new structure.