Office of Finance

Systemwide Lean Initiative

General Description of the Initiative

The Systemwide Lean Initiative involves staff from all UW System institutions with 4-5 institutions working together on a common project. The model used for these review efforts is essentially comprised of three phases.

First, individual campus teams consisting of 6-8 individuals consider their current approach to a selected process. In this phase, team members establish goals and objectives for their review effort, receive training in the tools and principles of Lean Manufacturing, and then work through a facilitated Value Stream Mapping process in which they develop a visual representation of the process under review. These mapping efforts help participants identify opportunities for improvement and often highlight especially effective approaches which could be adopted by other institutions.

In the second phase, 1-2 individuals from each campus come together to share their current approach, along with any opportunities for improvement they have identified. These combined multi-campus teams then work together to develop and map a desired future state of the process under review. Team members compare their current approach with this future state using four metrics: total lead time, total process time, percent complete and accurate, and total number of steps in the process. These metrics provide a clear sense of the potential benefits of process improvements. After the future state work sessions are complete, team members report out to institution Chief Business Officers and the UW System Vice President for Finance.

In the third and final phase, individual campus teams take their ideas back to campus to begin working toward implementation. Participants are also expected to discuss their work with colleagues from other campuses as a way to further share best practices and leverage the results of their efforts across the UW System.

Overview of Outcomes

In the first round of the initiative, the project trained over 100 individuals and completed work on three multi-campus projects, including reviews of procurement card processes, non-salary payments to individuals, and travel expense reimbursement processes. These initial projects identified the potential to free up over 60,000 hours of staff time which could be redirected toward other high priority activities. Subsequent rounds of reviews are expected to yield similar results.

In addition to the nine multi-campus projects sponsored through the Systemwide Lean Initiative, UW institutions have initiated a number of individual campus-based projects taking further advantage of the training and interest gained in the Systemwide projects.