Jeff Jorgenson, Manager Roadways Section, Public Works Department, City of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Raymond J. Gerke, P.E., CEO, VEMAX Management Inc., Edmonton, Alberta
This article discusses the implementation of an objective continuous process improvement methodology by the City of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Roadways Branch last year. The project commenced in fall 2002. The article focuses on the critical success factors and the major initiatives within the project.
In implementing continuous process improvement techniques the goal of the city is "to improve the long-term performance of the organization by identifying and implementing best practices."
As background the City of Saskatoon has been using Maintenance Management Systems (MMS) to plan and track work on the street network for a number of years. As a result of this detailed work tracking there is now sufficient information to enable productive and efficient practices to be identified. There is also sufficient information to enable variability of crew productivity to be identified objectively. A key to succeeding was to develop a method to analyze the data and to enable crew members to participate in the analysis. This would lead to maximum reality being applied to any changes in work methods that would come out of any analysis.
The city decided to engage VEMAX Management Inc. to implement continuous process improvement techniques at the crew and crew supervisor levels. VEMAX has implemented processes for continuous process improvement in other agencies in Canada. The project built on what Saskatoon had already done with existing "Close Out" reports and with "Continual Improvement Audits."
The project involved:
The activity studied is selected by management based on:
Since the introduction of controlled continual improvement processes, four work activities have been studied in detail including:
After assessing the facts through this process, teams combined this knowledge with their working experience of the work activity to develop recommended changes to how the City carries out this work. In total, more than 20 recommendations were developed by the teams and all were accepted by operations managers as-is or, following discussions, were modified to the mutual consent of all involved.
The success of these teams was due to strong, positive-thinking leaders as well as knowledgeable, willing team participants following a methodological process. The main leaders in these first four studies were Luanne Sirota, Ed Hildebrandt, Gaston Gourdeau, and Craig Bird.
The beauty of this process is that the majority of the recommendations made were relatively easy to implement, yet their implementation will be extremely beneficial to the City. Experienced people following a methodological, fact-based process delivered common-sense solutions and, as expected, the results will have a near instantaneous payback to the City of Saskatoon.
Jeff Jorgenson can be reached at (306) 975-2869; Ray Gerke can be reached at (403) 463-9501 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.