Bringing the Concept of Lean to Higher Education - VeBridge

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Bringing the Concept of Lean to Higher Education

VeBridge Higher Education“Lean“, is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination.

We borrow from lean manufacturing, a concept that has been time-tested for over a century. Henry Ford brought it to his assembly lines in Detroit in the early 20th century; then decades later a similar method was invented at Toyota, where the concept was fine-tuned, with added focus on the importance of considering the people in the equation.

Outside the rigid structure of automobile assembly, the concept of lean manufacturing, often referred to simply as lean, can absolutely be re-envisioned to fit the needs of other industries. The goals are still the same:

  • Reduce waste
  • Acknowledge people
  • Preserve product value

To attend to each of these goals, the workplace has to improve the processes that obstruct them.  In the workplace, waste often manifests as a loss of time; the workday only has so many hours, and if they’re not used efficiently the overall productivity level takes a dip. Improved service for end-users (i.e., employees), such as streamlined content management, improves access and processing time, in turn improving overall time management. Making your business lean means making your business receptive to the drivers of your growth and sustainability.

graduateLet’s use higher education as a case in point. Colleges and universities are powerhouses of information transport—with the storage, acquisition, and retrieval of thousands of applications, documents, and forms happening on a daily basis. Without streamlined content-management processes in place, these entities are doomed to inefficiency. Make no mistake: for every superfluous step added to a process there is an associated labor cost. For higher education establishments, getting lean will provide desirable outcomes for productivity and people alike.

In a recent move toward lean concepts, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) implemented an overhaul of content management for their JAQ (Job Analysis Questionnaire) Process.  The process to establish a new permanent position or reclassify a current position, was manual and paper-based, with e-mail routing and manual signatures required.

With a newly automated system, implemented by VeBridge, various college department administrators and HR Directors can communicate needs and complete required documentation seamlessly.  Essential information and forms are available in a centralized electronic location, thus saving time throughout all phases of preparation and posting.  Besides the savings in time and improved productivity of HR directors, the VeBridge solution provided much-needed transparency. HR directors now have a macro view of efficiency and a micro view of hiring statistics to help them make decisions and create policies.

The KCTCS story exemplifies applying lean practices in the higher education atmosphere. This concept can go far beyond HR in higher education, which is a road KCTCS plans to take. The possibilities for process improvement within the higher education realm are many. With streamlining comes significant improvement in transparency and oversight, which are benefits no educational system should go without.

The principles of lean can apply to any business process in any industry.  It about removing costs, standardize processes and leveraging monitored workflows to improve the quality of life for employees and customers, alike. Contact VeBridge for more information about getting lean in higher education, and ask us about our free process roadmap assessment.

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