Category Archives: Continuous Improvement

Auxiliary Services Monthly Report-Out Update

Auxiliary Services hosts a monthly Lean report-out to provide an avenue for Lean Teach-backs, Kaizen Report-outs, Project Updates, Lean community contact, and a space to ensure accountability.  

The teach-back method, also called the “show-me” method, is a communication confirmation method used, primarily, by healthcare providers to confirm whether a patient (or care takers) understands what is being explained to them. If a patient understands, they are able to “teach-back” the information accurately. Lean Teach-back sessions are used to demonstrate an understanding of Lean methods and tools, as well as an ability to teach others. These sessions could include new ice-breakers, creative or interactive activities to stimulate problem solving, or a Lean method that is seldom used or understood. For example, Ernie Beutler and Daryl Matthews from Dining Services used a creative problem solving activity they had learned from Karyn Ross’ workshop on “How to Coach for Creativity and Service Excellence” that involved inventing as many products you could try to sell using a piece of string, a bouncy ball, a paper bag, a paper clip, and a straw. It sounds like “McGyver: The Game,” but it showed the participants that if they got out of their comfort zone enough to stop being afraid of seeming a little silly, creativity is contagious and a group can come up with upwards of 20 suggestions in a few minutes with these objects.

Ross' Workshop on Creativity
Ross’ Workshop on Creativity

The Kaizen Report-outs cover all of the Lean improvement events that the divisions of Auxiliary Services participates in. These include any 5S work or process improvement events that have been completed within Auxiliary Services. The last report-outs have been covering the massive 5S MUB Basement Project that took a year of work and involved multiple departments within Auxiliary Services.

The next report-out will take place on Wednesday, July 18 at 2 p.m. at the MUB Superior Room. The report-outs are one hour on the third Wednesday of every month. The venue varies, and the event planners are open to suggestions to improve the functionality and appeal of the report-outs. If you are interested in attending the Aux Report-Out, please contact improvement@mtu.edu for more information!


Lean Topic—Improving the Flow

Dining Services has taken steps to improve the flow of people through the food ordering process. The latest effort has been to change the menus so all food options can be viewed on the screens on both ends of the food court. Dining Services has decided to stop thinking about the North Coast Grill & Deli as four different shops, and instead view all the sections as one business and made the menus accordingly. The new menus include an eight-week cycle that rotates through three sandwiches and one salad each week, during the school-year it will also rotate through three additional weekly specials.

Picture of the MUB Counter

Before this project, Dining Services considered the different working stations as separate businesses and made the menus to reflect that. On average, the grill received about half of the orders, while the deli, located at the opposite end of the food court, received a fourth of the orders. This unbalance has led to the employees working in the grill section to have to work at a much higher pace than the employees working in the deli. Due to the grill’s high order rate, the customers tend to congregate at the east side of the food court to order and wait for their food. Dining Services hopes to even out the order numbers and the congestion by having more people order at the west end of the food court.

Student eating in the dining center

While the menu board changes were being deployed, Dining Services also moved the location of the deli sandwiches and salads station and the commissary to the pizza production area at the east end of the court kitchen for the summer.

Dining Services plans to keep this menu configuration in the food court for the school year as well. To accommodate the high number of customers, they plan to move the commissary and salad production to the west end of the court kitchen, while keeping the sandwich and pizza production at the east end. They expect that this new configuration, along with a new vendor for power snacks and grab and go items, will reduce the labor requirements of the food court area.

If you are interested in holding a Kaizen Event at Michigan Tech, contact the Office of Continuous Improvement at improvement@mtu.edu or call 906-487-3180.


PC Replacement Update

The Office of Information Services (OIS) is working with the individual departments within VP for Administration to identify which computers will be upgraded this fiscal year. Once the upgrades have been identified and agreed upon, OIS will be contacting each employee notifying them that their computer is scheduled for replacement. At that time, OIS will submit purchasing requests for the upgrades to IT. If you have any questions, please contact Colin Neese or Cayce Will at OIS@mtu.edu.

PC Update Icon

If you would like to update your PC to Windows 10, please contact IT at 7-1111.


Customer Service Pilot Project—Phase 2

Initiating the Pilot

Auxiliary Services within Michigan Tech’s Administration has been conducting a Customer Service Pilot Project aimed at aligning our departments with our Mission and Guiding Principles. Specifically, our pillar of Customer Service/Service Excellence which states “Our units strive to create a great Michigan Tech experience for students, employees, and visitors. We seek to continuously enhance our understanding of customer and stakeholder needs that supports institutional values.” The pilot project consisted of creating a universal means of gathering customer service data from a variety of service-oriented locations on campus in order to poll a range of customers and situations. Auxiliaries partnered with the Office of Information Services and Business Operations in order to create location specific QR Codes that are able to be displayed in a tableau dashboard on Administration’s website. This dashboard is able to display both the “big picture,” combined results of the surveys from all of the locations the surveys have been deployed to and it is able to “drill down” to the specific locations where customers interact with Auxiliaries employees.

Locations that were selected for the pilot include: the Campus Store, the Portage Lake Golf Course, University Images, and the Central Ticketing Office.

Customer Service QR Code Ad
Look for our customer service QR Code stations around campus!

The Next Step

Phase two of the Customer Service Pilot Project included improving the design for the original “Rate our Service” ads by creating vanity URLs for each location that is tied to the same survey the QR Code is on that ad. This is a way to expand the response base from those who have used QR Codes before to everyone with a smart phone. Business Operations also created a second version of the ad that has a lower profile, so each location is able to decide what type of ad is appropriate for their space. Lastly, Business Operations created two different “How To” posters, one for the customer, explaining how to download the QR Code reader and use the “Rate our Service” ad and one for the Auxiliaries employees to explain to them how they are able to help their customers give the feedback that we find so important.

How to use a QR Code poster
Look for our “How to” posters around campus!

New locations for Phase Two include: the Mont Ripley Ski Area, the Memorial Union Guest Rooms and Office, the North Coast Grill and Deli, the Library Cafe, Coaches Corner, the Campus Cafe, Fusion, Huskies Cafe, and the Par and Grill.

If you have any questions on this or any other customer service project, please contact the Office of Information Services.


Continuous Improvement: Tips to Success

Establish an enduring culture

A leadership team who embrace change and are adaptable is critical. Similarly having a team who are resilient can also pay dividends. It’s also important to gauge the impact of any improvement work on the overall culture of the organization.

Lean MeetingGet feedback from all concerned

Be open to suggestions and take on-board feedback that has been given. Also remove blame from the equation, and allow for an open discussion.


Theresa Coleman-Kaiser presented on Leadership Coaching

Theresa Coleman-Kaiser, Senior Associate Vice President for Administration, presented at “The Toyota Way to Service Excellence: On-line Event” on January 31st. Her session was titled “Case Study: My Journey Developing Coaches for Leadership Excellence.” The learning objectives for her session included:

  • Why coaching for Leadership Excellence and developing leaders as coaches is a critical management function
  • How to begin, sustain, and cascade a coaching practice to create an aligned stream of leaders throughout your organization
  • How to make your Learner’s thoughts visible in order to understand mindset, skill, and will
  • The wide range of feelings associated with a coaching practice, and how to find joy in developing others

Picture of Theresa presenting a Lean Topic

You can find “The Toyota Way to Service Excellence On-Line Event” agenda at the Lean Frontier’s website and view any sessions from the on-line event until April 30, 2018 free of charge.

Instructions to enroll:

  1. Navigate to the course Website
  2. Click on “Enroll in Course for $195” (course fee will be waived in next step)
  3. Click “add Coupon Code” and enter: CORPSUBSCRIBE
  4. Click “Apply” to confirm code
  5. Enter email and click “Continue”
  6. Click “Enroll in Course”
  7. Enter name and create password
  8. Click “Create Account”
  9. Click “Continue to Course”

First Friday Social Event Management Kaizen

Auxiliaries Services facilitated a Lean event to apply a Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle to the way departments within Michigan Tech coordinate events, specifically, the First Friday Socials that many departments have participated in over the years.
Picture of Blizzard T. Husky with a fan at the Skybox Social.
Picture of Blizzard T. Husky with a fan at the Skybox Social.
Before the Continuous Improvement team applied Lean thinking to the event management process, they found that different departments were hosting similar events with unique needs. The hosting departments had to secure the services they needed to execute their event using multiple on and off campus resources. The team also found that some departments are experienced with planning events while others have little to no experience.
The team’s target state for after the event is to establish a one-stop shop for the customer to contact for all event needs. The problem the team had to tackle was the lack of a centralized location for departments to contact to gain all of the services they need to host a First Friday Social.
To solve this problem and find waste and root causes the team created a process map. This showed the breakdown of what the customer was required to do and what the MUB and Dining Services had been helping with. They brought in outside eyes and assembled a team from multiple departments on campus. After this exercise, they noticed that the customer had an excess of responsibilities and there was a gap where an Event Management Team could help to streamline and error proof the planning the process.
The team decided to breakdown the event planning process into a timeline and then a flow chart and a corresponding checklist to provide at the initial event planning meetings. This helps the customer to see what items are their responsibility and what items the team is available to help with.
The improvement team also created a walk through check list to make sure that the proposed event space is appropriate and that all needs will be met for the event. The walk through check list is still being developed and improved as the team gains experience meeting with customers at the site of the event.
Finally, in an effort to collect metrics and ideas for potential future improvements, the team created a short survey for the customer to evaluate their process, the value in having an event management team, and how they can improve for future events.
Team members included: Daryl Matthews, Laura Harry, Beth Frederick (of GLRC Facilites), Lori Weir, Austin Kunkel, Kari Price, Kari Pietrzyk, and Karen Johnson. Facilitator: Bob Hiltunen
For more information about Lean and Process Improvements at mtu.edu/improvement.

Inclusive Access—Increasing Student Success!

Student Buying BooksInclusive Access is a method of delivering online courseware (in the form of interactive materials and e-books) in place of traditional printed text. The Campus Store, in conjunction with publishers, e-book vendors, and campus faculty, is participating in the inclusive access program to help offset course material costs and increase opportunities for student success in the classroom. It was first used on our campus during the Fall 2017 semester with two Engineering Fundamental courses, students saw approximately a 33% savings (negotiated by faculty with publishers) on their course materials. For Spring 2018, we expanded the program to include select sections in three additional departments: Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering Technology. Course participants are contacted via email before the beginning of the semester explaining the program. They are offered an opportunity to opt-out of the inclusive access program at the beginning of the semester; however, students are encouraged to stay enrolled in the program. If students choose to opt out of the inclusive access program, it will require them to acquire course materials on their own. If students wish to download the digital content and access it beyond the duration of their course, additional fees may apply. The Campus Store has also experienced benefits from inclusive access in the matters of less processing and storage of inventory, reduced costs on purchasing and shipping, and an even more open line of dialogue with faculty and administrators. The Campus Store will be looking to expand the inclusive access program for the Fall 2018 semester.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact us at campusstore@mtu.edu.

Read more about Michigan Tech’s Campus Bookstore at https://www.bookstore.mtu.edu/michtech/


Dashboards—Best Practices

A Dashboard is a visual tool that allows you to view data in real time. When coupled with your Key Performance Indicators, you can build a dashboard that enables you to gauge the health of your organization or business unit at a glance.

An image of an example of a quality dashboard.
An example of a good quality dashboard.

Best Practices for Developing a Dashboard

Dashboards normally have limited visual space, so choosing which metrics are displayed is a key decision. Remember that the goal of a Dashboard is to display only the most critical data and metrics to provide your staff with an “at a glance” view of how well they are meeting the business objectives.

“A picture is worth 1,000 words.” This is a great rule to use when trying to make your dashboards. Try to keep things as visual as possible with different chart types, colors, shapes, or interactivity and try to avoid turning your dashboard into a big spreadsheet.

When you start developing your dashboard, think about how you are going to keep it up-to-date. Your dashboard is only as accurate as the data it’s based off of, so determining the refresh rate of your dashboard should be taken into consideration.

The easier your dashboard is to access and use, the greater the chance that your staff will buy in to this new idea.

An image of an example of a poor quality dashboard.
An example of a poor quality dashboard.

Avoid the following Pitfalls

Adding in too much complexity during your starting phase. Keep it simple at first, and build in complexity once you have buy-in from your staff and have communicated your metrics.

Ensure that your metrics have been defined and communicated to your staff so that everyone is on the same page. Displaying a metric that your staff does not understand, not only takes up precious space on your Dashboard, but it adds in a level of confusion that could affect your staff’s level of buy-in.

Avoid clutter and non-value-added visualizations. Keep it simple and only include your most important metrics.

When developing your dashboard, be sure to account for the additional time and resources it will take to maintain and modify them.

Make sure that your metrics are aligned with your organization’s goals. Revisit your set metrics periodically to ensure that you are charting the correct course to achieve success.

Displaying poorly designed charts or graphs may add more confusion than understanding to your dashboard. Avoid this pitfall by having some outside eyes review your dashboards.

Contact us for Help!

For further information or questions, please contact the Office of Information Services.


Special Operating Hours Pilot

Business Operations has facilitated a pilot project designed to gather and organize the special operating hours from the various departments on campus into a single source. This special operating hours project was initiated in 2015 when the daily Tech Today feed was overwhelmingly populated with special notices from departments across campus communicating their specific hours for the fall, winter, and spring breaks. The ultimate goal of the project is to have Tech Today serve as a reminder for departments to submit their special operating hours to Business Operations where they will be posted on the /Business-Operations main page. The ultimate list of the department’s operating hours is also linked to from Michigan Tech’s main page.

According to Google analytics, the Business Operations website has been visited over 750 times in the last month that the special operating hours report has been active.

You can find the special operating hours form and list on the business operations website at mtu.edu/business-operations.

Business Operations | Special Operating Hours
Business Operations | Special Operating Hours

Did you use the Special Operating Hours webpage?

You can see it here! Let us know how we did! Please respond here: mtu.news/2E37DQ1