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Process Improvement Puts ESR in the Fast Lane

Have you ever seen a Formula 1 pitstop? In a matter of seconds, the pit crew changes the tires, gasses up and sends the driver back onto the course. Races can be won and lost in the pits.

A pit stop is also the ultimate expression of process improvement: no wasted motion, precise sequences, everything happening in harmony. The team has analyzed its process down to the millisecond and added value to its customer: the driver.

Compare that pit stop to some of the processes you go through at work…probably not as efficient.
You might feel like you’re going in a circle rather than a straight line from start to finish.

We have good news! In addition to delivering smarter systems, the Enterprise Systems Renewal (ESR) program is streamlining as many inefficient processes as possible. We may not get to F1 levels of precision, but we do have our own version of a pit crew in the Lean Bench – a team of 12 process improvement experts who will be deployed to support ESR projects.

To understand this better, let’s start with defining a process as a set of activities that happens in order to get an outcome. Your day is full of processes, whether you realize it or not. Following a recipe to cook dinner is following a process, for example.

Your job is filled with processes – just think of all the functions that go through a sequence of review or approval, like recruitment, financial transactions, performance appraisals or grant administration. Some of our processes originated decades ago, without much alteration along the way.

ESR provides the opportunity to re-examine thousands of processes. We’ll be asking questions like, “Is this the best way to do something, or is this simply the way we’ve always done it?” 

Through this process improvement analysis, we’re focused on cutting steps that don’t add value to the customer. Eliminating waste is a key tenant of the Lean Six Sigma process improvement approach that we’re taking for ESR.

But process improvement is only one part of ESR. The other part is implementing newer, smarter systems. How do the two work together?

The business systems support the processes; they don’t define them. They are still our processes – who’s involved, the time allotted, the steps along the way. The systems automate and facilitate, but they don’t dictate.

Overall, the goal is to avoid building inefficiencies into our new systems. If we simply deploy a modern system over the same outdated, flawed or inefficient processes, we really haven’t accomplished much. It’s like dropping the engine of compact sedan into a racecar – and not even the best F1 team can win with that!

Category: ESR Behind the Scenes