Lean Six Sigma produces results for UC San Diego

img_1160As a global leader in higher education, UC San Diego strives for excellence in all aspects of campus life – from offering world-class educational opportunities to leading the industry in research accomplishments – that ambition transcends to employees as well. In order to become better, UC San Diego has partnered with UC San Diego Extension to provide employees the opportunity to gain valuable problem solving tools through the Lean Six Sigma program.

Lean Six Sigma’s process improvement methodologies teach participants how to eliminate steps and activities that don’t add value to a process, ensuring the employee’s skills are being used to the best of their potential. Because people are the most valuable asset of any organization, this is an important component to the program’s goals.

pierre_ouilletPierre Ouillet, vice chancellor and CFO of UC San Diego, believes in the necessity of constantly improving and is a strong advocate of the Lean Six Sigma program.

“Our Strategic Plan gives us an imperative to challenge ourselves to constantly increase both the efficiency of our operations and the quality of the services we provide in support of teaching, research and public service” said Ouillet. “The Lean Six Sigma continuous improvement methodology enables us to do so. It has a long history of success not only in its traditional manufacturing industries, but also across service industries, higher education and health care.”

Having the opportunity to gain effective skills is paramount to always improving, which is why Ouillet allocated funds for 26 scholarships for participants in the most recent Lean Six Sigma course.

“Through our Office of Operational Strategic Initiatives and in partnership with UC San Diego Extension, we are building and supporting a culture of continuous improvement through targeted projects, education and collaboration,” said Ouillet “A great importance is the ongoing positive impact on service quality and our collaborative culture.”

A number of UC San Diego staff have completed UC San Diego Extension’s Lean Six Sigma program, earning a green belt and implementing the methodologies in the workplace to achieve results.

Lisa Thai Schlossman, principal human resources analyst at UC San Diego, said the Lean Six Sigma program taught her to look beyond the surface of a problem to understand the underlying issues.

“What Lean Six Sigma teaches you is to explore the root cause of a problem and to measure it with data,” she said.

A principle methodology is teaching participants how to step outside the process in order to see what is painful about going through the process and then making improvements.

“One of the best things that Lean Six Sigma did for me was help me understand the process for the customer,” Schlossman said. “It taught me to expand my perspective and understand how the customer is experiencing the process.”

Rosemarie Marino Del-Mar, IT project manager at UC San Diego, appreciated the emphasis of real-world learning in which participants could immediately apply their new knowledge.

“We came in with projects from our work environment that we needed to solve,” she said. “What I like is that there was a real goal.”

img_1076The impact of the Lean Six Sigma program is felt throughout campus and has already improved a number of processes including:

  • reducing the amount of time to recruit and hire staff;
  • shortening payment terms while ensuring UC San Diego’s commitment to consistently pay on time;
  • developing an objective measuring system to receive and understand patient experiences in the International Patients Program;
  • shortening compliance approval processes for recruiting faculty;
  • reducing errors in the HDH Hospitality Express Catering Orders;
  • identifying ways to expedite the UC San Diego’s Staff Volunteer Appointment Process;
  • and reducing cycle time for the job classification process.

As an active supporter of continuous improvement, Ouillet said he plans to offer additional scholarship funds for upcoming Lean Six Sigma courses through Extension to further UC San Diego’s efficiency and superb customer service.

For more information on UC San Diego Extension’s Lean Six Sigma programs, visit us online at extension.ucsd.edu.

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