Efficient and effective: it’s what every school district strives to be.
Today, school districts and educators are asked to do more with less resources. Oftentimes, it takes systemic district-wide change to make that happen. That’s where Lean comes in. Simply stated, a Lean organization is one that maximizes value while minimizing waste.
When you implement Lean in your school district, you can improve your workflow, decrease waste, and increase the value your stakeholders receive.
To get started with Lean, pick a single process to improve and use each of the five Lean principles as steps to guide you:
1. Identify Your School’s Stakeholders and the Value You Provide
A key principle of Lean is to give your customers (in this case, your community stakeholders) the most value using the least amount of resources. To do this, first identify who your stakeholders are and what they want most from your school district and the department or work group that will be implementing Lean.
Your stakeholder base can include a variety of people. Make sure you look at other community members that might not be so obvious. For some areas of your school district, it can even include internal stakeholders. For example, if you are looking at implementing Lean in your human resources department, your primary stakeholder would be your employees.
Once you identify your stakeholder, determine what value your work group implementing Lean provides. The value is what your stakeholder wants most from them. For a school district like yours, this could be anything from providing a nutritious lunch to someone’s child to approving employee leave requests depending on the work group.
2. Map Your Process and Determine What Adds Value
After you’ve identified your stakeholder and the value provided by the work group in your school district, it’s time to map the first process you want to improve. The first map you create will be a map showing each step of the current process.
Once the current state is mapped out, go through your workflow and identify which tasks are:
- Value Added – These are the tasks your stakeholder cares most about. For example, a direct deposit is sent to an employee.
- Value Enabling – These are the tasks your stakeholders don’t care about and may even see as a hassle, but are a necessary part of the process. For example, a parent must make a payment to their child’s lunch account.
- Non-Value Added – These are the tasks that don’t add value for your stakeholder and aren’t a necessary part of the process. They are just “waste”. For example, a field trip approval slip must be transported from the parent to the teacher to the main office. This would be considered a transportation type of waste.
3. Improve Your Workflow
Now that you have your current state mapped, the fun begins. Take a good hard look at each value enabling and non-value step you identified in your process. Is there a better way to do it? Can it be eliminated or automated?
This is your opportunity to make your workflow as efficient as possible. An easy way to do this is by using a Workflow Management System. Systems like LINQ can help your school district organize your workflow and automate your processes.
In the field trip slip scenario, automating the process would eliminate the transportation waste and waste caused by delays or re-work. Almost all processes can be automated to some extent. Take the time to explore what options are available to your school district.
4. Establish Pull With Your Stakeholders
After improving your process by eliminating waste, you can let your stakeholders come to you. Traditionally Lean has been used in manufacturing and retail. The “pull” step refers to customers getting the products they need when they need it. As a school district, you will have a similar experience after making your process more efficient.
Rather than pushing information or paperwork to your parents and staff, they can pull what they need when they need it. While you will still be able to follow up when you need to, you won’t have to worry about having too much inventory on hand and resources wasted because too many forms were printed.
5. Aim for Perfection
In Lean, there is always room for improvement. After implementing changes to your current process, you may find that something in the workflow isn’t working how you thought or could be improved even more. Continuous improvement is about constantly evaluating your process and making changes, when necessary.
With LINQ, continuous improvement is easy. Maybe you discover that an electronic form needs an additional field or that a step should be removed from your process. With the click of a button you can make the changes and have a full record of the changes made.