LIA Public Sector Projects
|This page briefly reports on some of the most important public sector projects undertaken by LIA in recent years. In general our experience has been that although several pilot projects have demonstrated the effectiveness of process improvement in direct service delivery and administrative support, because thorough implementation of a lean transformation programme in a government department has not yet taken place ongoing improvement of performance is the exception rather than the rule.
Temba (Moretele) Child Maintenance Administration Improvement Project
In 2011 three process improvement projects were undertaken in the Temba (Moretele) child maintenance administration process to improve the court application process, maintenance receipts from respondents and maintenance payments to beneficiaries.
Data collected in the maintenance administration office showed that 66% of the time spent to make phone calls, faxing and copying was spent on walking and waiting, i.e. pure waste. Following implementation of the improvement recommendations that the fax/photocopy machine must be moved closer and the issuing of a telephone PIN to the maintenance office supervisor the time wasted on walking and waiting was reduced to 18%.
In the cash office authorization of journalizing on JDAS caused serious waste of staff time. Initially the cause of the problem was identified as a “server reset” problem which caused very long log on delays to log on as shown in the top bar in the diagram below. Previously communication of this problem with the central IT management failed, but through the intervention of an IT manager involved in the project the problem was resolved very quickly. Then a new problem emerged as staff had to wait much longer for a supervisor to authorize every transaction because transactions were being processed faster.
The supervisor now dedicates about two hours every day to sitting next to the staff member doing journalizing to speed up authorization, but the consequence is that one of them are inactive all the time while the other one is working. It will require a system change to eliminate this waste of time.
The project has been extended to enable the introduction of visual performance management and standard work. This has not been completed, but initial indications are that while the staff are diligent in maintaining the daily performance measurement graphs, they are challenged by the calculations and have yet to improve their standard work checklist score by initiating further improvement projects.
(Grütter AW, Report on the Introduction of Lean Management Practices at the Moretele Maintenance Office of the Temba District Court, Lean Institute Africa, August 2011.)
Department of Health Rapid Process Improvement Workshops
In May 2010 LIA was commissioned by the national department of health to test the lean approach in 18 public hospitals in the ‘priority’ health districts (read ‘neediest’) of the country. The test was in the form of one-week rapid process improvement workshops with about 18 managers participating in each workshop, 12 of whom were from the hosting hospital; overall, 336 individuals participated in the workshops. Delegates to each workshop were told that the purpose of the workshop was to:
(a) bring about meaningful improvements in each of the three projects undertaken per hospital, and
(b) allow participating managers to begin to grasp the general process for bringing about improvements in any project area.
Overall there were 54 process improvement projects undertaken in the 18 workshops, together with an additional 2 projects in a 19th workshop held to help participants on the previous workshops to consolidate their learning. Each hosting hospital had a free choice as to the nature of the projects undertaken although a list of examples of previous projects was offered for guidance. The project topics selected by the hosting hospitals were:
Follow-up research showed that:
(a) operational improvements were made in the project areas;
(b) managers began to grasp a general approach to making operational improvements;
(c) delegates were overwhelmingly in support of the general ‘lean’ approach and felt it should be widely applied and supported.
It is clear that managers participating in the workshops were inspired as to what is possible in a short time, but may also be intimidated at trying it on their own.
The results of the improvement projects were easy to see: most process improvement projects were successful in the week of the workshop with 65% sustaining the improved practices at the time of the follow-up visit several months later, some with spectacularly encouraging service delivery improvements and none appearing to do harm.
Further analysis indicated that the types of projects (waiting time reduction and patient file availability) that were under the situational control of local management were more likely to be sustained and improved, than projects that relied on centralized systems not under the control of local management (such as procurement systems that determine stock availability).
(Faull NHB, Mupure C et al, Lessons from using the A3 Structure in a Multi-site Lean Healthcare Experiment, Euroma Conference, Cambridge, UK, 3-6 July 2011.)
National Prosecuting Authority HR Recruitment Improvement Pilot Project
After process mapping and consultations with staff in the NPA Recruitment department several initiatives such as 5S housekeeping, office layout improvement and visual management were taken. To improve the first month late salary payment the appointment letter for new staff was redesigned to collect critical information that has to be entered into the Persal system without delay to make first month salary payments on time. The graph below shows how emergency payments through BAS were reduced.
Due to the limited scope of the project, resistance by a supervisor and severe management turnover in the department these improvement were not sustained. To address this problem a lean transformation programme was designed for the NPA, but not implemented due to the change of the National Director of Public Prosecutions at the time when a decision to go forward needed to be made.
(Grütter AW, The NPA HR Recruitment Lean Pilot Project Report, Lean Institute Africa, 15 November 2009.)
Pinetown Criminal Justice System Process Improvement Pilot Project
Following an end-to-end process mapping of the lower court criminal justice process from first information of crime to verdict in which the main stakeholders such as SAPS, the NPA, the chief magistrate and the clerk of the court were involved five priority improvement projects were identified:
- First statement quality improvement
- Monday morning demand peak reduction
- Dockets at court on time
- Quality of case screening
- Court scheduling improvement
All these projects delivered operational improvements. For instance new A1 statement forms that included prompts in the margins to remind police officers to collect key elements of the crime were designed and tested. Asst Comm Moonoo, the national divisional commissioner detective services wrote a letter of appreciation in which he stated: “Supt Brown has made a significant contribution to the simplification of taking down a proper statement..” and “This initiative sets a new benchmark on how to transfer operational knowledge.”
Unfortunately the scope of the project did not include follow-up to institutionalize lean management and consequently reliable measurements were not taken. An attempt was made to maintain the improvements under the auspices of the monthly case flow management meetings, but it was not sustained.
(Grütter AW, The Pinetown Criminal Justice System Process Improvement Pilot Project Report, Lean Institute Africa, 8 Sept 2009.)