CSG Winter 2013 – Process Improvement Case Studies and Panel Discussion

Process Improvement at Michigan – Bill Wrobleski & Andy Palms

– Hackett assessment identifies cost savings opportunities
– NexGen Michigan – follow-up assessment by Accenture. $300 million IT spend across university – 37% in central IT. Campus was unhappy with both central and local IT. 13 projects recommended – Phase 1 invest $22M and generate $13.5M in annual savings.

Rationalization Findings –

79 security services, 60 server hosting services, 131 storage services, 193 desktop support services, 102 help desk services, 125 network services.

IT investment should be smaller and more mission aligned – spend less on commodity IT and more on mission unique IT.

Unique aspects of NextGen approach
– pursued both savings and “next gen IT” improvements at the same time
– Deans of large units contributed funding to the project, which has driven speed.
– in order better capture savings and to minimize user impact, bundled services together and offered single unit roll-outs.
– included a set of projects to improve internal IT processes (service mgmt, ops, availability)

Unit roll-out
– savings target identifies for each unit, based on Accenture assessment, using job descriptions.
– unit-by-unit engagement to review job descriptions and agree on what staff would move to the new shared service org. 60-70 FTE was target from central units, ended up with 45 after review.
– Comprehensive workforce transition plan for staff moving organizations
– Staff (or budget) moved to shared service org, then shared service org makes necessary budget cuts over time as services roll out.

Process working fine with admin units, test will be when they try academic units.

Example – Consolidate Networks
– Many units operated their own networks
– $2M est. annual savings from consolidation, $1M staff, cost savings, $1M equipment, cost avoidance.
– Support from Provost and key Deans
– Transitioned 5 network staff.
– Consolidation has begun in earnest.

CMU (Steve Huth)

Software/hardware acquisition issues were adversely affecting research and education. Idea to delivery could take weeks or months (anecdotal, not measured).
The real numbers were much worse – many requests never got filled at all.

Goals were to make things a little bit faster. Wanted to regularize process and give people realistic expectations for fulfillment. Also wanted to have exception handling for high priority fast turnarounds.

Analyze the As-is process

Discussion with key stakeholders
– Faculty
– Contracts office (concerns about click-through agreements)
– Export Control Office – more pieces of software coming with restrictions attached, e.g. Identity Finder is export controlled.
– IT – wanted time back for IT group.

Was not possible in any rational way to document existing process.

– Where do we spend the most time? (and why?)
– Who can authorize a change?
– Some guiding principles – Deep involvement by those doing teh work; eliminate what isn’t necessary; streamline what is; manage risk appropriately; spend the most time on what has the greatest impact.
– Document the process

Key elements of new process: Defining what’s in scope and what’s not. Have clear go, no-go points with ways to escalate. Ways of handling exceptions. It’s not perfect, but that’s ok. Has metrics built in to help improve the process. Reviewed with key stakeholders and ran pilot, which turned up some improvements before going public. Implementation ended up being a fairly straightforward form that made the usual things easy.

Results –
– happy(er) faculty: reduced time to delivery, still not as fast as unrestricted purchase, substantially reduced re-work.
– improved compliance
– less staff time on unproductive activities
– focus more attention on areas of impact or risk.

Panel Discussion

What didn’t work?

– Consolidating multiple customer management systems. Failed miserably, because trying to affect things that were too close to what made people money. Caused resistance to change.

– CMDB effort – couldn’t get something that  would satisfy multiple requirements due to granularity of information needed. 

– When methodology doesn’t align with organization or what you’re trying to do, it won’t succeed. Project methodology does not work with services. End stage of a service improvement is the service, while the end stage of a project is the completion of the project. 

– Pushing compliance on people can cause failure. 

– Consolidating help desks example – looking at managing call centers is a different problem than optimizing local support for faculty.

– Having the wrong person in charge of the process, who had too much investment in specific answers.

Process Improvement – Thoughts on Pivot Options

Focus: Effectiveness or Efficiency?

– Commodity or Customized?
– What’s the value curve?

Approach: Top-down or Bottom-up?
– Practice well-understood, common (or not?)
– Appetite, Push/Pull Propaganda (trade-offs)

– Volunteer or Coverage? (getting to best value?)

Tactics: structured methods, or as it works?
– How much help?



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