Continuous Improvement

What is Lean?

"Lean" is considered a philosophy of continuous improvement. A lean organization focuses on increasing customer value, the elimination of waste and optimizing operations. The key components of Lean can be applied to all types of businesses and processes.

In addition to reducing wastes and improving a specific process, Lean is also about building a culture, one that respects all employees and enables them to pursue opportunities to improve their work and share ideas for continuous improvement.

Benefits of Lean

A Lean approach to continuous improvement provides us with a concrete method to examine work processes. The tools we use are tested and the cross-functional teams often bring new perspectives to the table.

Lean thinking can provide improved value for the customer by:

  • Improving the quality of work processes
  • Reducing errors or defects in work processes
  • Reducing costs
  • Improving flow of the process
  • Simplifying complex processes
  • Reducing lead time
  • Improving employee morale

Request a Process Improvement Evaluation

Do you have a process that frustrates you? Do you wish you had more time in your day?  Do you wish your desk, office supplies or other area was better organized? Do you want to reduce errors or waste? Would you like to make it easier to comply with safety policies and procedures? Completing a continuous improvement event can help you solve these and many other problems.

A process improvement evaluation will entail meeting with our team to understand your department and your process. By using some Lean tools and methodologies we can identify non-value added steps and waste in the process. 

One of the tools we use to tackle paper processes is a program called Laserfiche Forms. To schedule a reveiw of a specific paper process, please complete the below form:

The Lean Process

Once the form above is completed, we will begin to work with the department to convert a manual, paper process to an efficient, paperless process using Laserfiche Forms or Adobe Acrobat. In order to streamline this process, please have your process mapped using a flowchart. This is the first step in any process improvement initiative. Once the process is mapped, we will go through the following steps with your department. The associated duration times are estimates and actuals may vary depending on the complexity of the process.

  1. Initial Meeting - We will schedule a meeting to sit down and better understand the process and offer suggestions to make it more efficient and what the electronic tools can do for the process. Due to our limited staff, we can only work a limited number of processes simultaneously.
  2. Design Forms - Using your existing forms, we can create the electronic forms to gather the data necessary to complete the process. (2 weeks)
  3. Design Workflow - This is where we will determine where the form needs to go, how many stops it needs to make, and where the final form will live. (3 weeks)
  4. Test Process - Using the new electronic process, we will push through test documents to ensure all the forms and routing work as exepected. We will also ensure everyone along the process knows how to find the information and approve documents. (2 weeks)
  5. Go-Live - Once the testing is concluded, the Department will select a Go-Live date. After this point, the old process will no longer be used and the department will transition to the new process.
  6. Monitoring - Once the new process is live, we will monitor the process to ensure everything works and make any small tweaks to forms and routing as the end user sees fit. (6 months)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long has Texas A&M University-Commerce been involved with Lean?

A: Texas A&M University-Commerce adopted the Lean approach to continuous improvement in late 2018.

Q: Does Lean mean cutting positions?

A: No, Lean is not about eliminating jobs. It's about respecting all employees and enabling them to pursue ideas and opportunities to improve their work. Oftentimes, Lean improvements result in time savings and freed-up resources. This becomes a great opportunity to devote those savings to other areas and to new ideas.

Q: What kind of waste does Lean seek to eliminate?

A: Waste in Lean is known as the three Ms—muda (waste), mura (unevenness), and muri (overburden) from the original Latin.  Mura refers to variations or inconsistencies in a process; muri concerns overburden or unreasonableness in a process.

Muda is further divided into eight forms of waste:

  1. Motionunnecessary movement of people
  2. Waitingpeople waiting for people, information, products, equipment, etc.
  3. Movementunnecessary movement of "things"
  4. Correctionincomplete or incorrect information
  5. Over Processingdoing more than necessary to produce a product or service
  6. Overproductiondoing or making more than needed
  7. Inventoryexcess supplies, paperwork, information or equipment
  8. Knowledgenot utilizing an individual's full capacity (knowledge, skills, aptitude and/or creativity)