Lean in Higher Education is about the University delivering expected value through their processes and services, using University resources more effectively, and providing employees of the University with more meaningful work.
The department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, recently learned how successful their spring 2012 kaizen event on their graduate application review process was. The “current state” prior to any improvements was that the length of time it took to respond to graduate students was causing a loss of students (to other schools who respond faster), re-work, and over-processing of application material. The length of time to respond was approximately 50 days!
A cross-functional kaizen team was brought together one year ago to focus on this problem. The team consisted of members of the graduate student selection committee, a staff member from the Michigan Tech Graduate School, a graduate student providing the perspective of a customer, and a Lean facilitator. A process map was created indicating that there were 33 steps to complete a review and respond to students. The team identified problems within the many steps and brainstormed ideas to eliminate the problems/waste.
As a result the process was reduced from 33 steps to 24 steps, a 27% improvement. After a year of collecting post-kaizen metrics the team has recently learned that their improvements have reduced the time to respond to students from 50 to 15 days – an impressive 70% improvement! Congratulations to the kaizen team!!