Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Setting the record straight.

There are a number of common misconceptions about the Process Improvement Unit that we are trying to address. Blogging about these is perhaps one of the easiest and most cathartic ways to address these erroneous beliefs, possibly not the most effect though!

The top ten incorrect facts (we hear) about PIU are:
  1. We're all about process improvement projects.
  2. We only run projects via five-day events.
  3. It's just about the process mapping.
  4. We tell people how to improve their processes.
  5. We're all about efficiency.
  6. It takes a long time to get a process improvement project set up.
  7. We use the same techniques for every project.
  8. It's a fast track to systems development.
  9. Use of a manufacturing management model is not fit for purpose for a Higher Education Institution.
  10. Process improvement is a one-off activity (we've been leaned!).
Our response:
  1.  We offer a variety of services and training - not just projects (take a look at our website www.sheffield.ac.uk/piu)
  2. We find the five-day event model a very effective approach, but run projects in other ways (workshops, observations and meetings etc.). We agree modus operandi with our project sponsor at project scoping phase.
  3. Process mapping is a tool to help people get a common understanding of how a process works/ will work. The root cause analysis, clear scope, clear set of improvements are arguably more critical to a project than the process map.
  4. The role of the process co-ordinator is facilitative, albeit with expertise in process and lean thinking which we will use to guide and question the group. We should never tell a project team what to do (unless you take advantage of our consultancy service). We do emphasise the value of having a neutral facilitator!
  5. Our view is that  processes need to be effective first and efficient second.
  6. Our fastest timeline, is going from request to event in three weeks, other projects have taken much longer (often because of project team availability). We discuss timings at request and scoping stage.
  7. We have a standard process for running projects, however we use a range of tools and techniques for each project - perhaps we should emphasis this more in our case studies?
  8. We often identify small technical enhancements, and have even run projects that include a developer. However, we are not a fast track to systems development, changes have to follow the standard university process.
  9. More and more universities are using lean and other process improvement methods to improve ways of doing things. Lean in service is an evolving, continuously improving methodology. We hope that our results to date are starting to dispel this myth.
  10. Outputs of our projects are often a short term practical process, there are always further improvements, the project is only the start.

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