Kaizen Article 4 of 4: Labor Time and Waste Reduction

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - How do you remove the waste in your work process? How do you provide your services in less time with greater quality? 

Written by PHQIX Expert Panel member Chris Bujak and his business partner Pam Vecellio, of Continual Impact LLC. Visit the Ask an Expert page for more advice from PHQIX Expert Panelists.

The COPPHI Kaizen Event Program recently completed foundational QI and kaizen training, coaching, and co-application of kaizen events at 10 health departments.  The program was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and managed by National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI); training and expertise was provided by Continual Impact LLC.  Kaizen utilizes methods and techniques to observe the current work process and analyze the value and waste in every step. This process provides the team the understanding to redesign the work process for improved efficiency while staying focused on the work process’s customers and objectives.

Kaizen simply means “change for the better.”  A kaizen event is a team-based approach that enables improvement to be made by stepping through all phases of the improvement cycle effectively and rapidly. Before the event, a kaizen-appropriate problem is identified along with goals in areas such as customer satisfaction, cycle time and labor reduction, and error elimination. The team is then mobilized and a kaizen event begins. A typical event uses a systematic process to identify waste in the targeted work process, enable the team to understand and analyze the root causes, identify and test solutions, learn, install improvements, and create a system for ongoing improvement. As the event progresses, numerous QI and change management methods and techniques are applied. The event enables the team to accomplish all this work quickly, typically in 5 days with full benefits achieved within 1-3 months!      

Participants commented:

“Kaizen shocked us; we thought that we were going to spend a week to remove 10 minutes…instead we identified how to remove 190 minutes.”

“Customer calls completed within one transfer went from 11% to 80%.  At the same time the percentage of calls requiring >3 min to research and process calls improved from 30% to 15%.”

“We decreased defective requests from 90% to 0 last month.”

Several of the kaizen program sites targeted improvements in the efficiency of their processes. Take a look to see the amount of positive change made in a brief time by finding the waste and implementing solutions!

DOH-Seminole County realized savings of $7764 for goods and services from price negotiations during the first quarter following a Kaizen event – almost double the goal set by the QI team. Other improvements in the requisition process included a 38% decrease in process time, in addition to increases in the approval rate for submitted requisitions and the rate of correctly completed forms. The overall result is a much more efficient process that procures goods and services at significantly reduced costs.

Johnson County Department of Health and Environment used a kaizen event to improve the supply ordering process cycle time and increased the order placement and delivery accuracy for all programs in the department. The results included decrease in cycle time – total ordering process time per order from 93 to 16.5 minutes,( 82% ) time and improving the order and delivery accuracy to 100%. This means staff can focus on more value added activities and get the needed resources faster. During the 5 day kaizen event the team worked to understand the problem, identify and root cause the issues, develop, test, and begin installing the solutions. The process was re-sequenced and redesigned to eliminate unnecessary steps, recycle loops, wait time and other wastes. Key process aids were developed such as creating a standard vendor list (by category), creating a list of items than cannot be ordered, training members and distributing P-cards to heavy orderers, shredding non-preferred vendor catalogs, providing budget visibility and codes, creating 1 standard order form, creating a share point site to access the order form and store all ordering documents, creating delivery location rules, granting orderers access to vendor web sites, 5S’ing the one storage room, establishing a Kanban ordering system to decrease inventory and standardize ordering, and lastly moving the ordering process from as needed to monthly.

By streamlining their internal computer drive, creating an internal framework for its use/upkeep, and training staff on the efficient and effective use of the computer drive, the Three Rivers District Health Department has increased staff productivity.

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