Lean Government: Grand Rapids
It’s nice to see a city using lean methods and even more noteworthy that the mayor would talk about it in an address like this. I’m glad to see they are focusing on customer service and cycle time, not just cost.
“First, we will continue to find organizational efficiencies that reduce cost without impacting quality of service. A visionary City Commission, committed to the wise and careful stewardship of tax resources, provided funding for an Administrative Lean initiative. For the past six months we have been working in six departments with value-stream mapping and process improvement strategies. The theory we are operating under is that people closest to the work are most knowledgeable in ways to improve work flow.
Let me give you one simple illustration of how this Administrative Lean initiative works. This example comes from Parking Services Department. When a monthly parker cancels a parking contract for any reason a refund is due. That refund is typically $15-50. When the Administrative Lean team mapped the procedure for processing that refund they found that an average of 20 days elapses before a check is issued and that several people had to push a good deal of paperwork around the department to make it happen. The cost of processing far exceeded the amount due and the customer often became irritated at the delay.
So the employees recommended – and management gratefully accepted – an immediate cash refund at the front desk. Instead of tasking weeks to receive a refund, 85% of customers now receive their refund in 12 minutes. The customer walks away happy and the City saves hours of wasted time and enjoys departmental cost savings.”