Lean and BPM collaboration delivers efficiency.
Kiama Council has benefited from combining Promapp and lean methodology to reduce waste, increase efficiency, and engage teams to develop a culture that focuses on process improvement.
Diane Ellison, organizational development co-ordinator at Kiama Municipal Council, tell us how they did it.
Promapp: Tell us a little about Kiama Municipal Council.
Kiama Council: Kiama Municipal Council serves a population of about 20,000 people. We pride ourselves in supporting our community through traditional local government services, as well as services that are not traditionally offered by local councils. For instance, in-home and residential aged care services, a beach lifeguard service and waste services. We also own and operate Kiama Leisure Centre, The Pavilion (a highly-regarded function centre) and five highly-prized coastal holiday parks.
Kiama Council’s staff complement, including our valued casual staff, totals approximately 450 people, depending on the time of year. By comparison with other councils, the number may appear high when you look at our population, but it’s not when you consider the range of services we provide to our community.
'The act of looking at what we are currently doing has facilitated a few interesting conversations - in some cases we were surprised to find a number of people doing the same tasks, but executing them in different ways.'
Promapp: What were your key reasons for needing process management software?
Kiama Council: A few issues and events occurred that made us look closely at the way we do things.
Kiama Council is an established organization that identifies itself very much as a clan or a ‘family-style’ organization, rather than a corporate business. We have many long-serving employees across Council, including a few in senior managerial positions. Over the past few years we have seen some staff changes due to retirement and this will continue over the next few years. For that reason, it has become increasingly important for us to capture the critical know-how that they have gathered over the years, and make their corporate knowledge accessible to others.
One of our challenges has been varying degrees of willingness to change and adopt available technologies. In some areas we have been a little complacent, and have stuck with doing things the way we have in the past because they had served us reasonably well. The pace of technological change now highlights that there are increasingly better, faster and more efficient ways to do things.
Recently, along with a number of other councils in New South Wales, we were faced with the possibility of amalgamation with a neighboring council. We had to demonstrate our ability to be fit for the future - financially and across quite a number of additional measures - to the State Government.
We have also identified that we could achieve even greater results with greater consistency in our processes.
Promapp was our first step. It’s helped us both as a reference tool and as a diagnostic tool. It enables us to capture the corporate knowledge stored in people’s heads and review what we do for consistency.
Promapp: How has Kiama Council benefited from a greater focus on lean?
Kiama Council: For a ‘taste’ of the lean methodology we conducted a few Kaizen events in 2017. This demonstrated the value of lean to the council. The Kaizen events highlighted the need for us to be very clear about who our stakeholders are, and raised awareness that we could do a better job of making customers our focal point.
For instance, when new residents are admitted to our aged care facility, Blue Haven, we know we need to focus on the people as much as we do on the admission process. We also need people to complete a raft of paperwork associated with different requirements.
We’ve been able to change our processes so that on the day that a family member is admitted the emphasis is less about paperwork and more on welcoming them to their new home.
This realization had a huge impact and created a fundamental change in the way we think about welcoming new residents.
We are fortunate to have been allocated funding from state government under the Smart and Skilled initiative, which has enabled us to prioritize lean by participating in two units from the Competitive Systems and Practices. We are using lean methodology alongside Promapp to identify areas for improvement and increase efficiency, which also helps to increase employee satisfaction and reduce employee frustration.
Promapp: Do you have any examples of how these improvements impact team engagement?
Kiama Council: The team at Blue Haven created this clip to celebrate the achievements of the Promapp Kaizen event. It highlights how Promapp works well with lean and has engaged teams to positively impact organizational culture:
Promapp: What hurdles did you have to overcome to embark on the lean project, and how did you address them?
Kiama Council: Our people are keen and eager for change, and they’re capable of making it - we’ve just needed to pair that willingness with effective time management. One of our biggest challenges has been to unshackle our teams from their desks so they can participate in improvement initiatives. Most people are willing to be involved and to make a change in the way they work, but there is always ongoing pressure to get the day-to-day work done first.
We started with those teams that demonstrated the willingness and ability to map their current processes. The active and visible sponsorship of our directors and managers has been critical to supporting the teams to take the time to look for process improvements.
Promapp: What has the benefit been to your organization?
Kiama Council: It’s early days for us, but already we have seen improvements. For example, at our aged care facility our raised awareness of waste prompted us to monitor and measure food waste, which resulted in a reduction.
Better use of time has resulted in greater customer satisfaction, and has made for even happier staff who can now focus on the things that really matter to our customers. Some of our employees have commented that they feel a heightened sense of contribution as part of the care team where previously they might have said they were ‘just’ cooks and domestic workers. The process highlights the important role they play in the life of our residents.
Promapp: What next for Kiama Council?
Kiama Council: We’re a ‘work in progress’ with big aspirations to achieve even greater things. Although we’re still early in our lean journey at Kiama Council, Promapp and lean have already helped us to standardize processes and reach targets that we had previously not attained.