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									                         Request for Innovation Proposal on
                  Continuous Improvement
               in Business-Related Operations

Contact Persons:
Steve Beyerlein                 Wendi Secrist             Ron Town
GJ 234G                         Boise Center              Admin 201     
885-4932                        364-4082                  885-2141

Additional Team Member/Consultant:
Sarah Borden, Centered Consulting

Name(s) of the current unit(s) and/or programs to be consolidated or
Description and Justification
Please note that this proposal differs from others in that the concept was created by the RFI
Review Committee in response to seventeen RFI pre-proposals as well as recommendations
by the Goal 3 and Goal 4 Strategic Plan Implementation Teams . Three RFI Committee
members took the lead in writing this proposal and it recommends the formation of a
steering committee to develop a conceptual framework and continuous improvement
process for non-academic operations. A key element of the proposal is the degree to which
all stakeholders, academic and non-academic, are engaged and respected in the
improvement process. The description below contains a starting point for consideration –
specific details, flowcharts, etc. may be modified at the discretion of the steering committee.

“Business optimization” was the term used to initially describe the concept for this proposal.
Through ongoing discussions, it was decided that “continuous improvement” better described
the intent. Both are somewhat ambiguous terms and could refer to a variety of activities (e.g.
fiscal and human resource processes, organizational structure changes, job redesign) that have
been suggested through RFI pre-proposals or are under consideration at various levels of the
university. Ideally the university would invest in organizational development staff to facilitate
continuous improvement among units. Without resources to hire staff at this time, this
proposal recommends a continuous improvement process be developed by a steering
committee (members are suggested below in the timeline section) as a critical first step to
transforming the culture of the institution to one where the business-side supports and
encourages teaching, scholarship and outreach of faculty and staff. It is important that the
outcome not create another administrative level that slows down progress. Instead, the
outcome should be viewed as an effective and efficient process or system to shepherd viable
ideas where the lines of authority are not clear. The system should also capture and retain
institutional memory about business operations ideas and initiatives that have been previously
considered and acted upon. To begin the conversation as to how the institution should
systematically handle business process or business system improvements, the following
delineation is offered:

    1. Process reengineering – at the broadest level, the institution may wish to look at large-
       scale systems and reengineer them from the bottom up. This involves setting aside
       existing structures, identifying the outcomes desired of the process and then
       developing a structure that best supports the outcomes. This proposal suggests a
       process whereby recommendations for process reengineering can be vetted, but the
       review team recommended in number 2, below, would not be directly responsible for
       reengineering projects – they will require special facilitation and are being addressed by
       the President and Provost outside this proposal.

    2. Business Improvements with organization-wide impact – the next level is a business
       system or process where changes impact multiple units. An excellent example of this is
       the Hughett IT Cost Cutting Proposal where standardization of desktop and hardware
       environments is suggested to streamline and achieve cost savings in IT support and

                                                         Continuous Improvement Proposal – Page 1
       purchasing. The focus of this proposal is to develop the appropriate structure and
       procedure to evaluate ideas, make decisions and facilitate implementation on an
       ongoing basis. Consideration may include:
          a. Tools or a checklist that assists the proposer with initial analysis of their ideas.
              This should include a check to ensure that any committees that may have
              responsibilities associated with the process/system have been consulted.
          b. Templates for a “business case” statement, feasibility analysis and/or cost-
              benefit analysis that evaluates return on investment and possible social
              implications of the change along with any other criteria needed to make a
              decision. For instance:
                    i. Identify stakeholders (inside and outside business operations)
                   ii. Map of the current process (including approval queues and cycle times)
                  iii. Characterize sources of waste in the current process
                  iv. Define the modified process
                   v. Orient stakeholders on implementation of the modified process
          c. A flowchart that identifies the process, roles and responsibilities of decision
              makers and implementers. Please refer to the draft flowchart on the last page as
              a starting point.
          d. How the review process should work. Does there need to be a standing team or
              is there a core group and others are brought in based on the idea being
              reviewed? Who should be involved?
          e. How implementation will be facilitated and communicated.

   3. Business Improvements with unit-wide impact – the lowest level involves a business
      system or process that impacts one unit (or is coincidental to units outside the one
      proposing the idea). It may appear that no clarification is necessary – the unit leader
      should feel empowered to make the decision. In practice, though, the current culture of
      the institution in many places leads to a lack of decision making as individuals wait for
      someone else to decide. This continuous improvement process should address
      empowerment of unit leaders and perhaps outline general limits of authority. A
      decision making tree and/or examples could be developed. In addition, the model
      developed for number two, above, could be modified slightly as a tool for unit leaders
      to employ internally.

Finally, the steering committee may consider recommending that university leadership
embrace professional development opportunities in continuous improvement or other topics to
expedite adoption of this new process and the shift in culture it is expected to influence.
Internal expertise such as that possessed by Larry Stauffer, Rick Edgeman, and Deborah
Manning as well as service units such as Idaho TechHelp are likely to be a cost-effective way to
deliver needed development activities.

                                                        Continuous Improvement Proposal – Page 2
  Explanation of how this change will result in an improved ability by the university to be a
  vital institution and meet the needs of society within the context of the our Strategic
  Action Plan
The RFI Review Panel identified a number of pre-proposals that recommend changes to
university business processes. Rather than select individual pre-proposals, the committee felt
that the true innovation and benefit to the institution would be a system that allowed business
processes to be suggested, vetted, and implemented (or discarded) on an on-going basis. This
continuous improvement cycle, perhaps based on Lean Office principles or Kaizen, would
empower the individuals who make decisions by enabling them to understand the fiscal and
social implications of the way we do business. Potential outcomes of an institutional continuous
improvement team could include efficiency and the sustainable use of our resources, cost
savings, and a healthier work climate/culture. All are important for the university to be a vital
institution that meets the needs of society.

The Strategic Action Plan, Goals 3 and 4, are also specifically supported by this proposal. The
Goal 3 team, in its final report states the following as one of five recommendations:

       Administrative barriers: As part of a university‐wide review process, identify and
       streamline the five to ten administrative processes that create the greatest barriers to
       achieving the four strategic action plan goals, including outreach and engagement.
       Challenge units to improve internal and external customer service as well as
       administrative processes.

The Goal 4 team lists the following as one of its projects:
      Operations Grid: Goal 4 is assisting Provost Baker as he works with the Deans to
      develop a matrix-like Grid that details operational activities and identifies gaps as well
      as what is working well on campus. Goal 4 Team members are ready to assist the
      Provost wherever we can to identify and/or develop best practice ideas for correcting
      the areas where we find gaps or finding ways to disseminate and share best practices,
      programs and operations that are working effectively across campus.

  Description of the impact the change will have on students, faculty, staff, and external
Properly implemented, a continuous improvement process will allow students, faculty, staff
and external constituents to reach their potential. Good business practices enable people to
accomplish their work and celebrate success, poor business practices delay completion of
important tasks and generate negative affect about the institution. We expect our academic
programs to engage in an annual cycle of outcomes assessment, data analysis, and actions for
improvement. The process has not yet been moved into areas outside academic, but could
provide a consistent approach to evidence based improvement and decision making. In
addition, the potential for cost savings is likely to be large, although it is not quantified in this

                                                            Continuous Improvement Proposal – Page 3
  Description of how the change will improve the university’s ranking or reputation
This proposal does not directly impact the university’s ranking or reputation. However, it
provides a foundation to support the mission critical teaching & learning, scholarly & creative
activity and outreach & engagement that do impact our ranking and reputation.

  Description of previous work on which the project builds, including work at the University
  of Idaho (e.g., results of various implementation teams and task forces posted on Provost
  website) and cited work at other institutions
As mentioned previously, this proposal builds on some of the recommendations of the Goal 3
and Goal 4 teams. It institutionalizes a system where viable ideas can be submitted, vetted
and implemented (or discarded) on an on-going basis. There were at least seventeen RFI pre-
proposals submitted that were either fundamentally business process recommendations or
had some component which should not be forgotten. Organizations throughout the
country/globe will or are doing the same kind of thinking in order to lower costs, increase
productivity, facilitate innovation, attract and motivate great employees, and become more
competitive - universities are no exception.

  Details on the processes used to get feedback from faculty, staff, students, and external
  constituents regarding the final proposal
The leads for this proposal requested feedback on a draft description/justification, timeline
and budget from the following groups:
     The “Suggested Steering Committee Members” listed in the timeline section below.
     The authors of the RFI pre-proposals that the review panel identified as business
       process recommendations.
     The Goal 3 team members.

Seven individuals responded to the request. Six were generally positive and one did not agree
with the premise of the proposal based on concerns that there is no monitoring of the
effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of current business operations Some of their comments
have been incorporated into the appropriate sections of this proposal, but their responses to
the “pros and cons” of this proposal are summarized below:

      If carefully thought out, and with proper training, a well-defined process could greatly
       streamline process (and continuous) improvement at the university.
      My personal belief is that the UI isn’t very good at recommending and implementing
       change. A clearly defined process may help to change that.
      Being intentional about making work easier to do and more effective is critical for
       creating a healthy, highly motivating work environment. The processes and that which

                                                        Continuous Improvement Proposal – Page 4
     supports them - the tools to do the work required - should be enablers, not frustraters
     or inhibiters, of accomplishing that work.
    If the RFI goes through, I think the result could expedite business-related decisions. I
     believe just about all my campus wide processes could be streamlined to be more
     efficient such as doing purchase orders, doing claim vouchers, etc.
    It will provide a clear path for these business improvement ideas. How they go from
     proposal→review→local unit vs. institutional and through to implementation. It also
     shows where the decision points are, how this process is related to Process
     Reengineering and how each area is involved (e.g. Proposer, Optimization Team,
     Reengineering Team, Local Unit and Project Team)
    I believe that setting up Project Teams for those proposals that have institutional impact
     is very important. There can be much to gain from working with a cross-functional team
     to identify, streamline and apply these processes
    This gives those of us with some ideas a great way to submit those ideas. But it also
     mitigates these ideas such that we have to “have done our homework”, e.g. we cannot
     propose something without contacting all those involved. This is where the checklist
     can assist.
    Continuous Process Improvement is a standard business practice in private industry.
     Public entities do not have this natural orientation, but this process can enhance that.
     In particular, with the staffing levels at the University of Idaho as “lean” as they are, this
     process can improve our work lives considerably.

  Making sure that there is top-down buy-in for this proposal. It may take some strong
     leadership to be able to outline the “general limits of authority” within many of the
     units. Specifying what they cannot have influence on is a task for strong leadership
  The lack of resources assigned to the project. Ideally, you would have some investment
     in organizational development staff, specific to this business process optimization.
  I do not feel that this proposal will expedite business-related decision making. We’ve
     got to know where we are at in order to figure out where we want to be in terms of
     systems. We have to analyze what works and what does not. Input from the
     community of users is essential both in pinpointing the problems and weighing in on
     possible solutions. However, the systems need to be put in place to insure internal
     controls, good financial reporting and effective and efficient business processing.
     Achieving that cannot be done by individuals without a knowledge of the whole.
  I believe that attempting to change too much too quickly would defeat the RFI purpose
     as institutions naturally abhor change. There needs to be a clear set of steps laid out
     and followed as well as buy in from all the levels. My fear is that a new idea goes from
     trying to streamline a specific process and turns into a 21 page essay request (example:
     new budget request process).
  I would ask who has this expertise on our campus. We do not have enough experience
     in key managerial areas of this university. We are suffering because of this and the

                                                        Continuous Improvement Proposal – Page 5
     institution does not have the confidence that this could be done professionally and
     using best practices. Why wouldn’t we incorporate this into the Internal Audit function
     and have someone conduct “performance audits”?
    Investment of time; already I see that a couple of the recommended steering committee
     members are maxed out by competing projects and demands. If we undertake this
     project, we need to have a timeframe for completion and the project would need
     priority status during that timeframe by all who commit to participating.
    We would want clear success criteria (i.e., what would our final product “look like” and
     do?) so that we stay on track (and do so as efficiently as possible).
    If we stick to the term “process improvement” or something generic, I think we’ll be
     better served than throwing in terms like Kaizen, TQM, BPR, etc. (So many of those have
     specific tools and procedures, and people can get mired in using the “correct tools” vs.
     arriving at a good solution.)
    (Re: templates for business case statement, feasibility analysis, etc) I believe this is a
     potential barrier for individuals who wish to recommend an improvement in process. It
     is possible that individuals do not have the knowledge, time, data to develop the case
     statement and then will put aside what might have been a good suggestion. Passing
     that work to others also creates burdens in an already lean system. It seems like a
     clearinghouse concept saves time and quickly moves the suggestion to the unit
     responsible for the work. As an aside, it has been my experience that the more we can
     align work processes with the units with responsibility for the work, the more likely we
     are in the implementation of our initiatives. It is also my experience that the units with
     expertise can evaluate proposals in light of policies, procedures, and guidelines quickly.
     If our culture supports flexibility and nimbleness, then there will be incentives to attend
     to the types of suggestions that surface.

  Supply plan for soliciting input from the University of Idaho community during the RFI
  project and for communicating achievements (e.g., processes and products) at its
The proposal leads specifically recommend that Mary Gresch participate in the
implementation of this proposal for two reasons. The first is the utilization of her
communications expertise as this process is developed to solicit input and the second to
ensure that communication is built into the ultimate process designed by the steering
committee. It would be presumptuous of the proposal leads to finalize a communication plan
without involvement of the recommended steering committee.

  Description of how the effectiveness and progress of the proposed program will be
  evaluated relative to the vision and goals of our strategic plan
An emphasis for any continuous improvement process includes establishment of key metrics
and the evaluation of performance against those metrics to determine if continuous
improvement is actually occurring. However, given the nature of this proposal, it would be
presumptuous of the proposal leads to predetermine the metrics used to evaluate the

                                                       Continuous Improvement Proposal – Page 6
effectiveness of a continuous improvement process that has yet to be designed. The
recommendation for the steering committee members has taken this factor into account and
they would be tasked with developing metrics and the process to evaluate performance against
those metrics.

It is expected that this proposal will advance an added-value mindset that could broadly and
positively impact all four areas in the university’s strategic plan. This could be measured by the
degree to which faculty and staff demonstrate shared commitment to the following principles:
      Minimize lead time from activity initiation to fulfillment (freeing up scarce time and
      Remove wasteful steps from processes (to reduce costs, increase efficiency and enhance
      Take action early and collaboratively (to produce results quickly that are meaningful to
      Thoughtfully plan, monitor, and reflect on process changes(to validate results, ensure
         repeatability, and maximize generalizability)
      Develop workflows to increase efficiency and ensure adherence to process design.

Another metric is advocated by the Academic Quality Improvement Project that is an
alternative accreditation arm overseen by the Higher Learning Commission. This is embodied
in their list of ten signs that work someone is doing may have little added-value. Their guideline
is that if more than two of these describe a particular work activity in an organization, serious
consideration should be given to refocus these efforts. A simple survey of business process
stakeholders around these ten points is likely to reveal whether we are making progress
increasing added value.
     1. No one appreciates the work being done—no one says “thanks for doing this,” no one
         gets anxious when the activity is overdue, or no one cares if the report comes late.
     2. The work produces no variance. Inspections that approve all items inspected are
         worthless. Work like this falls under the “rubber stamp” syndrome—it requires no skill,
         and adds no value.
     3. When asked what the purpose or goal of the work is, different people have radically
         differing opinions. No one can articulate the work’s purpose (“we do this because…” or
         “we do this in order to…”) because, in reality, the work has no clear purpose or goal.
     4. No one remembers when the organization/unit began doing this task, or who started
         doing it—its origins are shrouded in mist.
     5. The ‘value chain’ that leads ultimately to the external stakeholders supposedly served
         by the activity is so long and tortured that any listener’s attention drifts off as you
         explain the “if…then” chain of supposed connections.
     6. While they’re doing it, the person engaged in the task forgets what he or she was doing.
         The worker asks “Now where was I? I forgot what I was doing when you interrupted
     7. People working on the task are frequently asked to do something else “more important”

                                                         Continuous Improvement Proposal – Page 7
   8. The job is done wrong and no one complains. Or even notices.
   9. There is no “bottom line”: no one has ever calculated the costs and or tried to evaluate
       the benefits of the activity. Organizations measure the things that matter to them; they
       often neglect to measure the things that don’t really matter.
   10. There is no pressure to improve the activity—to make it more efficient, more
       productive, faster, less costly. The work’s current costs, efficiency, and productivity are
       all taken as unalterable.

If this proposal is accepted for implementation the following steps are recommended:

0-3 months    Form a team of senior leadership to identify general parameters for when the
              process is used and outline general limits of authority for unit leaders. Develop a
              prioritization process that is information driven including business case
              statements, feasibility/cost-benefit analysis templates, and so forth to be used
              for considering suggestions. Recommend training for university leadership.

              Suggested Steering Committee (the President and Provost should formally
              appoint a steering committee of their choosing, but may wish to consider the
              individuals below):
              Jeanne Christiansen, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
              Jack Morris, College of Business & Economics
              Lloyd Mues, Finance & Administration
              Harvey Hughett, Information Technology Services
              Larry Stauffer, College of Engineering and TechHelp
              Deb Manning, Human Resources
              Mary Gresch, Communications

3-6 months    Conduct recommended training. Establish review committee and begin
              evaluating suggested improvements. Prioritize first 5-10 test cases from multiple
              university contexts to run through the recommended continuous improvement

6-12 months Conduct and achieve closure on a least five test cases. Refine the continuous
            improvement process as needed before beginning next round of test cases.

The implementation of this proposal has a cost in man-hours for the development of supporting
checklists, a business case statement template and other collateral that will support review of
suggested improvements. An ongoing investment in man-hours will be required for the review
process. However, anticipated cost-savings from the implementation of sound business
practices that currently have no clear outlet to be vetted should far outweigh the investment of
time. The only direct costs for implementing this proposal will be for training.

                                                        Continuous Improvement Proposal – Page 8
Continuous Improvement Process                                                                                                                                         Mar 3, 2009

   Local Unit

                        Business Case                                                                    Develop
                                                                             Analysis and                                                            Follow up and      Adjustment
                       development and            Implement?      Yes                                 implementation              Implementation
                                                                               design *                                                                  review         necessary?
                            review                                                                        plan **


                                       Develop and

                                     analyze proposal
                                     for consideration                                                                                                                     End

   Optimization team

                                  Review and                                         Institutional           Reengineering
                                                         Implement?        Yes                       Yes
                                recommendation                                      implications?              required?



                                                                             Analysis and                                                              Follow up and   Adjustment n
                                                                                                      implementation                Implementation
                                                                               design *                                                                    review       necessary?
                                                                                                          plan **


                                                                                                                                                      Continuous Improvement Proposal – Page 9

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