FC Lean Newsletter

In efforts to better support our Lean Environment and our graduates of Lean courses, the FC Lean Team will be providing information on ongoing improvement efforts across the City and continuing education opportunities. If you are not a subscriber, but would like to be added to the subscription list, please email lean@fcgov.com.  

  • New Sustainability Metric added to track material and resource reduction improvements as part of City’s overall sustainability goals: TEAM is now TEAMS 
  • The FC Lean forms have all been updated on www.fcgov.com/lean/toolkit.  
  • The new Process Builder Form can now be found on www.fcgov.com/lean/toolkit.  

Success Stories

In 2019, the employee wireless renewal process was taking Monica Cerato and finance staff 7 months to complete. Initial calculations speculated that this process was diverting staff time at the tune of $17,472 per year.  The process was riddled with confusion, re-work, and processing variances that led to this renewal process taking as long as it did. The team, led by Jessica Prentice, examined the current state of the process and sifted through various data points to determine the root causes. The team identified 2 main root causes for the lengthy processing time: #1 supervisors were signing the renewal applications but not verifying that the info on the application was complete or correct and #2 the application was confusing. With the root causes identified, the team brainstormed fixes that would address these causes. 

Many fixes were brainstormed, but after some prioritization five fixes were settled on. The first few fixes dealt with changes to the wireless renewal form. Not only did the team convert the form to a fillable PDF, but they also incorporated a “self-service” reimbursement calculator and mandatory fields. The reimbursement calculator gave real-time feedback to the employee and allowed the employee to discuss any disagreements with their supervisor. Thus, removing the finance middleman. The mandatory fields greatly reduced the chance for errors and prompted the employee to include information that may have been forgotten in the past. Two of the fixes centered around ceasing to accept paper applications and converting all renewals to electronic only submission. The last fix was to not accept incomplete or incorrect forms. In most instances, employees would submit their application to beat the deadline, but would sacrifice accuracy and completeness. This caused a myriad of other processes to be created, by the finance staff, to keep track of what was submitted and numerous follow-ups.  

All the fixes were implemented in time for the 2020 wireless renewal season and the goal of reducing the processing season from 7 months to 4 months was achieved! Since the season was shortened, the cost of staff time also reduced and resulted in a soft cost savings of $7,000.  Other benefits included improved reimbursement calculations and prevention of missing/incomplete bills. To no surprise this new process led to some confusion, despite the upfront training the finance staff provided. However, as the process normalizes, we can expect the process to become more refined and provide a much better experience for the employee, supervisor, and the finance staff. Lastly, Jessica and the team are in the process of benchmarking this process for the new wireless reimbursement process, as well.   


Improvement Tool Highlight

Brainstorming the root causes of a problem can either generate numerous potential causes or has the potential to be overshadowed by one perceived cause. Using a Fishbone Diagram while brainstorming can help alleviate both of those issues. Using the pre-determined groupings can help to organize ideas visually while also stimulating brainstorming in multiple areas. In addition, the Fishbone Diagram offers a great foundation for the narrowing of ideas. The groupings the City uses are: People, Policies, Procedures, Plant/Technology, and Environment. However, you can alter groupings as needed for your specific problem. 

To use the Fishbone Diagram, place the problem you’re trying to tackle at the head of the “fish” and then place the group titles on various arms.  While not all problems will have potential root causes in every category, you can use the following questions to generate ideas in each of the five categories. Keep in mind that some categories, such as Environment, may offer root causes that are beyond your control to influence or change and are for information purposes. The Pro-Tip for using the Fishbone Diagram is to not get hung up on where to place your cause. The categories are meant to pique your team’s brains and capture ideas.   

People: Are things being clearly communicated? Are procedures/policies being followed? Are we getting accurate and consistent results? 

Policies: Are there conflicting policies? Does the policy reflect what is actually happening? Is there a lack of policy? 

Procedures: Are procedures being followed? Where are procedures located? Is the procedure perceived or actual? 

Plant/Technology: Is there an issue with current technology or layout that is causing the problem? Do we have the right machines/technology to meet our demands? Do we know how to operate the machines/technology we have? 

Environment: Are there political factors at play? Are there weather impacts? Is the economy in a recession? 

Once you’ve captured all of the ideas on the Fishbone Diagram, you’ll need to use a voting tool to narrow down your top two or three causes to move forward to the next round of root cause analysis. You can find a Fishbone Diagram template and reference guide on our website at www.fcgov.com/lean/toolkit.  

OMG Help Documenting Real-Life Facilitation Struggles

Process improvement stagnation. Something that has not changed during the pre-to-post COVID world is process improvement project progression or lack thereof. From an FC Lean perspective, we have listened to problems that need to be fixed from our Lean Basics graduates. As we follow-up with these graduates, we get the same answer in various forms, “I haven’t had the chance to look at it since class.” Something similar happens in facilitated process improvement projects.  

To ensure a successful experience, FC Lean created a very scripted process and early in that process is the identification of a sponsor. As a Lean Leader, be careful not to skip the sponsor identification step. Sponsors come in all shapes and sizes, in other words, a sponsor can be a front-line supervisor or a service area director (most Lean Leader projects will have middle management sponsorship). The following is the definition and duties of a sponsor that can be shared to avoid stagnation.  

 Sponsor: a person who has decision making authority over the process/problem under review. 

 Provide Accountability: create follow-up meetings with the team lead to ensure project’s progression. 

 Remove Obstacles: ensure team members are attending scheduled meetings and assist during implementation.   

 Approvals: ask questions and promptly approve team’s suggestion or offer constructive feedback.  

To be a sponsor, you must be the approving authority over the process being improved. Additionally, performing just-in-time training for that sponsor, which includes providing accountability and progression for the project, help alleviate obstacles that may hinder the advancement of the project and to be prepared to listen to the suggestions posed by the team and approve them so the project can move forward. Keep in mind that sponsors come in all shapes and sizes, in other words, a sponsor can be a front-line supervisor or a service area director (most Lean Leader projects will have middle management sponsorship). To be a sponsor, you must be the approving authority over the process being improved.  

Process improvement thrives or flails depending on the effort and interest of the sponsor. As a facilitator, ensure that the project sponsor is aware of the duties associated with the position to prevent the onset of stagnation.  


    Celebrating our New Lean Leader Graduates

    FC Lean would like to recognize Becca Heinze and Eric Patton for successfully completing the academic and project requirements to become an FC Lean Leader. Please take the time to congratulate them. Below is a short summary of how they used their education to make an impact on our organization.  

    Becca Heinze - ARO Inclusion Request Process

    Community Services/Recreation 

    Becca’s project focused on the ARO (Adaptive Recreation Opportunities) inclusion request process. At a minimum, the process was taking 44 minutes to process an inclusion request per person. In other words, ARO was taking 62.5 hours to perform this process at a cost of $1,600 per quarter. Again, this was just to process a customer and not providing the service they were requesting. Becca and the team addressed the root causes by standardizing the way they collect and save data and utilizing full functionality of the Rectrac software system newly available due to a recent upgrade, to name a few. Processing times per customer reduced from 44 mins to 4.25 mins, with a soft cost saving of $1,447 per quarter! 


    Eric Patton - Transfort Bidding Process


    Eric’s project engrossed the process of creating and attaining bus operator schedules and preferences. The process was taking 46.2 hrs of staff time annually and created staff frustration and a potential for errors. Eric and his team addressed their root causes by converting from a paper-based and email process to an electronic process. In addition, the number of forms were reduced, standardized, and revamped to ease their completion. With the fixes implemented, Eric was able to reduce the processing time from 46.2 hrs to 24.75 hrs annually, save $891 in soft cost, and stop using 3 reams of paper a year!  

    FC Lean
    215 N Mason St
    Fort Collins, CO 80524