Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Inchoate processes with a side order of overprocessing

As part of the Service Improvement Programme we are running for our HR department (http://processimprovementunit.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/programme-of-service-improvement.html) last week we ran a Process Improvement Event to look at the Candidate Engagement Process. This process is part of the recruitment process that starts from identifying the need for a role right through to approval, advertising and someone applying for the post.

The key deliverables for the project are:
  • Streamlined ATJ process (the template we use for recruiting ie job/person spec)
  • Streamlined post approval process
  • Clarity and consistency of roles
  • Clear and consistent process
  • Improved guidance and training materials for staff involved in the process
  • Prioritised list of minor system changes (to improve candidate experience) - configurable by HR

Over the five days we mapped the current state, confirmed that the problems identified at scoping phase were the root cause. Interestingly, the qualitative feedback had identified long periods of waiting as a frustration in the process. The long lead-time for the process was symptomatic of the defects in the authorisation stages and the errors in using the correct templates and lack of clarity about role in the process.

We also conducted a value and waste analysis on the current state process map and unsurprisingly for a service process it was approximately 90% waste.

In scope for the project were system configuration changes, we spent sometime reviewing the system, and identified a long wish list of changes. We had a conversation with the team responsible for making the changes and have started to map the enhancement requests on a prioritisation matrix to ensure that the changes we are approached in a systematic, productive way rather than making changes that might be quick but will have little impact on the improvement (we like to call that fools gold).

At the mid-point of the event we were able to create a vision for the perfect process and this really gave the team a boost and steered their thinking when creating the practical process.

Outputs for the event included a new process with 33.3% fewer process steps, an estimated improved lead time of 50%, this was achieved by removing unnecessary approval steps, a simple google spreadsheet sharing agreement that will allow HR to start work on the job template without waiting for financial approval, and using the lean concept of runners repeaters and strangers to ensure that standard work can be dealt with effectively and efficiently and more complex work is routed to the appropriate expert in a timely way. The new process is estimated to save four hours of staff time per post.

We will be piloting the new process with three academic departments over the next few months and will firm up the plan for roll out at the one month review meeting. It was a great event with motivated and expert staff who really embraced the concepts of improvement.

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