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Lean Six Sigma Process Improvement Results:
38 Steps → 7 Steps (81% Improvement!)

UC San Diego is trailblazing Lean Six Sigma in Education. Kymberly Epperson and Darlene Schlueter recently reduced activity planning lead time by 81% after completing a successful DMAIC project.


Project Summary

Event Registration Fastpass: Move Right Through to Plan Your Barbecue

With over 300 barbecue and food-only events per year at UC San Diego, Kymberly Epperson and Darlene Schlueter set out to streamline the food event registration process to ensure campus compliance, food safety and higher customer satisfaction.


Define Phase: Identify the Problem

After research, Kymberly and Darlene found:

  • Users reporting the online registration system to be complex and burdensome, impacting the customer experience.
  • Big dining events, or barbecues are required to complete the same amount of steps (38) as a large scale event, like a concert or a festival, creating unnecessary steps.
  • Event approvals were not meeting the 7-day deadline. On average, approvals occurred only 3 days before the events, causing bottlenecks in the process.

Kymberly Epperson shares: 

And currently, any size of event, big or small, it takes student organizations 38 steps from when they start their event registration process to when they are submit for the 14-day deadline.

Lean Six Sigma Tools Used: Project Charter, SIPOC


Measure Phase: Quantify the Problem

Equipped with a comprehensive list of student satisfaction surveys, Kymberly and Darlene were able to use the feedback as baseline data, having found out that lead time is the most useful measure for addressing the goals of the project.

  • 57% of users found the event registration process to be easy as identified in the problem statement and improvement goals.
  • Users shared that the number-one reason why they find event registration difficult was because there were too many steps in the process.
  • 82% of food-only events were receiving a late final review.

By doing a process walk, the team was able to map out the full 38 steps to visualize it and then go through to each department to see the work being done.

Kymberly Epperson shares: 

I think you go through your job and you already know the steps that you need to take for your process within the event registration process. There are so many other departments that do their work. They approve the funding or approve the food and what’s going on at the student’s event. So it was really eye-opening for me especially as an event coordinator to see the funding side is just a side of the process.

Lean Six Sigma Tools Used: Data Collection Plan, Process Walk


Analyze Phase: Identify the Cause of the Problem

It was time to identify the root causes, so Kymberly and Darlene:

  • Utilized a Fishbone Diagram to narrow down the top 3 issues why the students found the event registration process to be too difficult.
  • Used Root Cause Hypothesis to decide that the focus should be on reducing steps (most difficult), improving the questionnaire and updating the design, layout and logo.
  • Created a Pareto Chart which helped them focus improvement efforts on events with food.

Darlene Schlueter shares:

It was going to grow and get a lot of bang for the buck. And so that’s why we focused on that.

Lean Six Sigma Tools Used: Fishbone Diagram, Root Cause Hypothesis, Pareto Chart


Improve Phase: Implement and Verify the Solution

Working with their core team to identify action items and deadlines, they moved into their Improve Phase and implemented:

  • Event Registration Process Improvements – Implementing the “Fastpass Track” for events and meetings with food only by eliminating 31 steps of 38, resulting in an 81.5% reduction in cycle time.
  • Reduced Process Steps – By removing redundant web pages that have the same information in various locations, the average user saved 22 seconds by not clicking on those pages.
  • Updated Design & Logo – Attaining a fresh new look with the help of their graphics team to help signal the process transformation to the end user.
  • Updated Login Portal – Making it more user-friendly and giving it a new look.

The Improvement Results:

  • Reduced the amount of late approvals by 64% resulting in four times more events meeting that 7-day deadline.
  • 61% of users found the event registration process easy or somewhat easy, which is a 3.2% increase from the baseline data, 72.22% total users indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with the new design, and 66.67% of users indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the new Fastpass Track.
  • Events are receiving final approval on average of 12 days before the event.  The goal was 7.

Lean Six Sigma Tools Used: Implementing Improvements, Reducing Process Steps, Updates to User Experience


Kymberly Epperson - GoLeanSixSigma.com

I think the “aha” moment is during the process walk – just really seeing what each department has to do and what we can eliminate to help everyone work together better.

 

Kymberly Epperson
Event Services Coordinator, UC San Diego Extension

Control Phase: Maintain the Solution

To help control the results, Darlene shares that they have since implemented a Monitor & Response Plan and created auto alerts to make sure that the correct departments are being alerted when it’s their time to final review the event and move along the process.

Kymberly Epperson shares: 

Our soft savings we found by eliminating steps for students, and advisors save time by making the process less confusing. But our most valuable soft savings for this project is having an effective and streamlined tool that campus administrators can rely on to better assess and mitigate risk factors for the university and university property too.

Lean Six Sigma Tools Used: Monitor & Response Plan, Project Closure, Executive Summary


A Sneak Peak Into the Full Success Story Webinar:

Tracy O’Rourke: Yeah. So, how do you guys look at things differently now that you’ve got process improvement eyes? I mean you already said you get to apply some of the stuff at home, which I agree. I will say though, she is about to have a baby so you guys can’t see this but I can. Sometimes doesn’t work on kids.

Kymberly Epperson: That’s the big process, yes. Oh, it doesn’t work on kids. Darn it!

Tracy O’Rourke: Sometimes they don’t want to follow the process.

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah.

Darlene Schlueter: I think for me, I found myself thinking about it and talking about it especially when we were in the class and we’re studying or working on a project. And I’m getting conversation with my husband and my parents and then like especially the conversations with my dad were really great. I’d call him and say, “Dad, Kymberly and I have this data. This is what I think it seemed. What would you think we should use to best demonstrate it, Pareto or a histogram?” Again, these great conversations.

And what was so great about it is my dad, he comes from a corporate finance background and he had a good understanding of Lean Six Sigma because he worked with a couple of large corporations, did some training when he was out in retail toys. And so – and then here I am with a background in higher education, student affairs, and yet, we can speak the same language. I was amazed by the tools and the methodology and the terminology and how it crossed over through both industries or all industries. And I was just amazed by that.

he comes from a corporate finance background and he had a good understanding of Lean Six Sigma because he worked with a couple of large corporations, did some training when he was out in retail toys. And then here I am with a background in higher education, student affairs, and yet, we can speak the same language.



View Slides

Success Story Transcript

Tracy O’Rourke: Hello and welcome to our success story webinar hosted by GoLeanSixSigma.com. My name is Tracy O’Rourke and I’m the Managing Partner and Executive Advisor at GoLeanSixSigma.com.

We are very excited to have this offering for our learners because this is where the rubber meets the road. We get to introduce and talk about real projects that have been done within organizations. So we’re really excited to share this success stories with you today.

We are highlighting a really good success story project from UC San Diego today presented by Darlene Schlueter and Kymberly Epperson. Both Darlene and Kymberly are graduates of the UC San Diego Extension’s Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Program.

And as a matter of fact, they were voted Best in Class by their peers for this project. So I think you’re going to really enjoy hearing about their success story and their project. Both of them work in Student Life at UC San Diego.

About Our Presenters

How are you guys doing today?

Darlene Schlueter: Good.

Kymberly Epperson: Great. Thanks, Tracy.

Tracy O’Rourke: Good. OK. So Darlene is an Associate Director for UC San Diego Center for Student Involvement. So tell us a little bit about what you do, Darlene.

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah. So I primarily work with student organizations and campus-wide events.

Tracy O’Rourke: Cool. And Darlene – I’m sorry, Kymberly, how about you?

Kymberly Epperson: So I also work with student organizations and I help them throughout the event planning process at University Centers. So any event spaces that they want to reserve, I help them do that process.

So I also work with student organizations and I help them throughout the event planning process at University Centers. So any event spaces that they want to reserve, I help them do that process.

Tracy O’Rourke: Very nice. OK. So, let’s hear a little bit about your project.

TAP Fastpass

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah. So today, we will be presenting on our process improvement which we have titled TAP Fastpass: Move Right Through to Plan Your Barbeque.

Tracy O’Rourke: Really important for students. They want to get to their barbeque, right?

Kymberly Epperson: Yes, definitely. We want to do a fun, catchy name. So Triton Activities Planner which is TAP is an online event form. We used to manage on-campus student organization events at UC San Diego.

UCSD Student Life

So we already said a little bit about ourselves. But you can see some fun pictures here of student organization events online where we walked. We just helped them through that event planning process.

TAP Events

And so, the TAP system is a complex event planning process designed to ensure that safe and successful events adhere to campus policies and procedures.

We created a fun little infographic right there on the left. And so, a little bit about UC San Diego and the student organization events. There are 600 plus registered student organizations, over 1,600 student organization events are planned annually using TAP, 364 events for last year were planned barbeque and food only events.

So our goal in this process is to reduce the steps because there’s an event on library walk. It’s a simple barbeque. It takes just as many steps as it would for a more complicated and complex event.

Tracy O’Rourke: Obviously, they’ve got a lot of barbeques going on and we want to try to streamline that process.

Kymberly Epperson: Yes.

Tracy O’Rourke: Why do they have to register it? What would be the purpose of that?

Darlene Schlueter: So for student organization events, any event that’s not a simple meeting or info table is required to do an event planning form. So the facility is aware, the police are aware, and it’s really to adhere to campus policies and procedures particularly for a barbeque, you would need a food service permit. And so, if you’re serving food to the public, that’s one of the reasons why you need a permit and a form.

Tracy O’Rourke: Good. Nice to know.

Define Phase: Define the Problem

TAP Project Charter

Darlene Schlueter: So this is our project charter. And in the Define Phase, it’s the first step of the improvement process. In the Define Phase, we created our project charter. Here, you could see that our TAP users finding online system to be complex and burdensome. In addition, the TAP process takes a one-size fits all, kind of like Kymberly said, to event planning.

So a simple, big sale or a barbeque is required to complete the same amount of steps as a large sale event like a concert or a festival.

In addition, final event approvals are not meeting the 7-day deadline. On average, events are being approved just three days prior to the event, which negatively impacts the lead time and the user experience.

Tracy O’Rourke: Right, because that means they only have three days to prepare for the event because they don’t know if it approved.

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah. And our project goals are to improve the usability experience by 5%, improve the questionnaire to address module flow and eliminate steps, and improve the target time like you said to decrease that.

Yeah, that’s a little bit the second page of our project charter. And we had a really great core team. We had members from different campus partners because TAP is not just Kymberly and myself. We have other campus partners who assist in the approval process, in the funding part, so they are very crucial to this process.

And also, like we said earlier, it’s just really important that the students are completing these forms in a timely manner so then they can comply with campus policy and procedure.

TAP SIPOC

Kymberly Epperson: And another part of the define phase is creating a high level map of our process, which is a SIPOC. So here, you can see our SIPOC diagram helps identify all the relevant elements of our process improvement. And so, the main takeaway for that is that the scope of the project focuses primarily on customer requirements.

Tracy O’Rourke: Good. That’s important, right? If we had to do a process, what does the customer care about? What do they want to see improved? OK.

Current State Process: Submitting a TAP for Review

Kymberly Epperson: Yes, definitely. And so, we wanted to see and visualize our current state process for submitting a TAP for review. And currently, any size of event, big or small, it takes student organizations 38 steps from when they start their TAP to when they are submitting their TAP for the 14-day deadline. So they have to fill out a questionnaire. They have to go to the venue, make a reservation. So you can see all of the steps listed out right there.

Tracy O’Rourke: Was that a surprise to you? Did you guys know that it took that many steps?

Kymberly Epperson: No.

Darlene Schlueter: No.

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah, just the question there alone was over 20 questions. So just eliminating that helped out a lot.

Darlene Schlueter: And this is for basic events. So if you’re having a large sale event, you have to have meetings, you have to have additional requirement these 38 steps.

Tracy O’Rourke: Wow! So you were feeling the pain a little bit for a student that might be wanting to have an event.

So you were feeling the pain a little bit for a student that might be wanting to have an event.

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah.

Tracy O’Rourke: Interesting. OK.

Measure Phase: Quantify the Problem

Data Collection Plan

Darlene Schlueter: Now, into our Measure Phase. This is our data collection plan. In the Measure Phase, we gather our data and we were really lucky to have comprehensive student orgs satisfaction survey which provided a lot of great customer feedback and we used it as our baseline data. And we also had additional process data we obtained from our IT staff which was really great.

The takeaway here is that the lead time is the most useful measure for addressing the goals of this project.

Baseline Data

This is our – also, a sample of our baseline data. For example, we knew that only 57% of our users found the TAP process to be easy or somewhat easy as we identified in both our problem statement and our improvement goals.

Tracy O’Rourke: So that wasn’t for you guys. You wanted to hire survey results.

Kymberly Epperson: Well, they’re just doing an event planning form. We would hope that they find the process easy.

Darlene Schlueter: This is some additional baseline data which includes the student orgs satisfaction survey as well as the process statement. Annually, we administer a comprehensive student org survey and then the customer feedback from our baseline data provides a series of likes and dislikes.

For example here on the right side from the TAP, it indicates the number one reason why users find TAP difficult is because there are too many steps. So meaning that there were too many steps and that should definitely be a focus.

And then the process data indicated that 82.4% of events with food only were receiving late final review. So those were some things that we wanted to tackle and we identified it in the bottom pie chart.

Core Team – Process Walk

Kymberly Epperson: And then right here, you can see some fun pictures of our process walks. So as a core team for our TAP core team, we wanted to go through the actual process and go and walk through every single step in our process.

The second picture on the right in the middle, you can see that is our process. Taped TAP on the wall in Darlene’s office, we …

Darlene Schlueter: That’s my office.

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah. Those are the 38 steps. We wanted to write everything out so we could really visualize it and then as a team go through to each department and see the work being done.

And so that was really eye-opening. We saw that some departments were getting alerted when they were next in the process so when they needed to approve their modules so it could be venue side is waiting for the food service to approve their module.

We saw that some departments were getting alerted when they were next in the process so when they needed to approve their modules so it could be venue side is waiting for the food service to approve their module.

So it was constantly checking TAP and then waiting. So some departments were getting those alerts and then other departments weren’t. So that was really eye-opening.

Darlene Schlueter: And we learned a lot on that process walk throughout the – it’s a couple of days actually that we had so many aha moments.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yeah.

Darlene Schlueter: We had to fix that.

Tracy O’Rourke: That’s like one of my favorite things, yes, the process walk. And I see everybody smiling on the left. Was that early in the process?

Darlene Schlueter: That was our first meeting.

Tracy O’Rourke: Right. And so, it was a couple of days. And was it eye-opening for everyone else that went on the process walk too?

Darlene Schlueter: It really was, yeah. And a lot of people had great feedback, different perspective. Up in the top right side, that’s a facility coordinator. On the bottom, it’s a fund manager. And so then we also meet with the risk manager.

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah. I think you go through your job and you already know the steps that you need to take for your process within the TAP process. There are so many other departments that do their work. They approve the funding or approve the food and what’s going to be going on at the student’s event. So it was really eye-opening for me especially as an event coordinator to see the funding side is just a side of the process. So it’s very cool.

Tracy O’Rourke: Very nice. Good.

Analyze Phase: Identify the Cause of the Problem

Fishbone Diagram

Kymberly Epperson: And so, moving on to our Analyze Phase, we wanted to identify the root causes. So we created a fishbone diagram. And the main problem was that students find TAP too difficult and we were able to narrow down the top 3 which we circled there.

Modules were too – there were too many. They were too confusing. The form is too long. And then we also had outdated graphics and layout which we will show images later on and how we improved that.

Root Cause Hypothesis

Darlene Schlueter: So, this is our root cause here. And we decided the root cause, the focus on should be on reducing steps, improving the questionnaire and updating the design, layout, and logo.

However, we knew reducing steps was going to be the most difficult part of this improvement and several types of events with different types and needs. The core group decided we should focus on one or two areas.]

However, we knew reducing steps was going to be the most difficult part of this improvement and several types of events with different types and needs. The core group decided we should focus on one or two areas.

Pareto Graph – January Events 2017

On the next slide, we really use the Pareto graph to determine our next steps. It was really crucial in that. As I said, we have many different types of events with different types of needs. So the Pareto made it very, very clear the improvement should focus on events with food only. It was a low-hanging fruit. It was going to grow and get a lot of bang for a buck. And so, that’s why we focused on that.

Tracy O’Rourke: Nice. I love it when the Pareto tells you what to do.

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah.

Darlene Schlueter: Here is an example of other data we use that was generated by the IT staff to help us identify and support the problems from our root cause. As you can see on the TAP one, the average numbers of days approval was being provided was just three days before the event, and our goal was seven.

In addition, on average, it was taking about two minutes to complete the questionnaire for a simple barbeque.

Tracy O’Rourke: And is that long on average or what would you say?

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah, it was 24 questions and they’re yes or no answers. And so, if you’re sitting there thinking, “Do I need to have tech at my event? What’s tech?” And then they may have to jump into another website.

Tracy O’Rourke: Sure. So good, OK.

Darlene Schlueter: That would be long.

Tracy O’Rourke: What would be the goal there?

Darlene Schlueter: We actually removed it.

Tracy O’Rourke: Oh! Zero!

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah.

Tracy O’Rourke: All right. Then I’ll be quiet.

Improve Phase: Implement and Verify the Solution

TAP Process Improvements

Kymberly Epperson: Yes. So here, we move on into our Improve Phase. We work with our core team to just really identify action items just so we could stay on track and identify who is working on what, we have deadlines there. And then you can see all the improvements that we made, we listed out, were here.

We created a Fastpass Track for events and meetings with food only. We reduced those process steps, improved the questionnaire, we updated the layout and design and logo of our website.

And so here is just showing how we created a separate category for the events and meeting with food only. So that way, they can – that’s their Fastpass Track. They select what type of food event they’re having and then that’s where the eliminated steps take place.

Tracy O’Rourke: OK.

Kymberly Epperson: So that it shows that improved current state process, submitting the TAP for review with just events with food only. So going from 38 steps, we went down to 7 steps. So we eliminated the questionnaire. We got rid of an event insurance form that they had to fill out. So that condensed it down to 7 steps for the current state.

So going from 38 steps, we went down to 7 steps.

Tracy O’Rourke: That’s awesome, from 38 to 7 steps.

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah.

Tracy O’Rourke: No argument there that that’s a better process for a customer.

Kymberly Epperson: Yes, especially for an event that did not need to complete all of those steps. It was just redundant and too much, too much harder.

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah. And we also found that barbeques and food fundraisers weren’t the only thing. They were general meetings of food which we also now included this category.

Tracy O’Rourke: Oh, good.

Kymberly Epperson: And so, this is just a bar graph showing the 38 steps, eliminating 31, and how we get to the 7 steps. So it’s a comparison of our baseline data and our post improvement process data, which shows that 38 initial steps, eliminating the 31 steps, and the improvement to the Fastpass event submission process resulted in the 81.5% reduction in our cycle time.

Tracy O’Rourke: That’s awesome!

Reduced Process Steps

Darlene Schlueter: So we also in our improve phase, we reduced some process steps. Here’s an example of a page that we didn’t need. We found that this page was redundant and have the information in various locations. And this is a sample of some Google Analytics that I pulled. This showed that based on events from last year, they saved I believe 22 seconds.

So on average, the user is saving 22 seconds by not clicking on that page.

Tracy O’Rourke: Nice.

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah.

Tracy O’Rourke: OK. Every little bit helps, right?

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah. And then also, this is just some information of our questionnaire. So when a student has an event, they put in the basic info and then they complete the questionnaire. But for now for the Fastpass, you don’t have to complete the questionnaire because it takes you just right to what you need to have.

But we did we also reduced the questionnaire for the other events from 24 questions to 10 and we rerouted answers to the appropriate campus administrators. So when they answer this questionnaire, something populates called Modules. Those modules then get sent to the appropriate campus department. So it might be the police or the food service or the venue. So we streamline that process as well. And we simplify the questions to avoid some confusion.

Updated Design and Logo

This is just a sample of our design, our original design and our new design. We are lucky enough to have the graphics team and they came up with some ideas. And that was our old design from ten years ago and gave it a new little look.

Tracy O’Rourke: That’s great. It sounds like you had a lot of resources in your back pocket too because you made a lot of changes to the TAP system. And typically we tell people, “Don’t do anything with systems because you never know if you’re going to be able to get those resources in the timeframe of the project.”

So you guys were really – you had some good resources at your disposal.

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah. I mean we still had a lot of things out of scope but we were lucky to do some other things along the way.

Kymberly Epperson: Especially with like having an in-house IT staff that helps a lot with pulling the data and the numbers and being able to have those graphs really helped a lot.

Tracy O’Rourke: Good.

Updated Login Portal

Darlene Schlueter: And this is another sample of how our new look is incorporated throughout the TAP system. And so we updated the login portal to make it user-friendly and kind of give a new look.

Post Improvement Survey 2018

Kymberly Epperson: And so after we made the improvements, we wanted to survey our students who have used the new Fastpass Track. So we created a survey with our core team and we just wanted to see what they thought.

Survey Results

On the next slide, we have our post improvement survey results. So 61% of users found TAP easy or somewhat easy, which is a 3.2% increase from our baseline data, 72.22% total users indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with the new design, and 66.67% of users indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the new Fastpass Track.

Tracy O’Rourke: Right.

January 2018 – Events with Food Only

Darlene Schlueter: A few weeks after the improvements rolled out, we had out IT staff provides us some process data for all events in the Fastpass Track category. What you’re seeing here TAP data from January 2018. So that’s post improvement process data and it indicates that events are receiving final approval on average of 12 days before the event when our goal was 7.

Tracy O’Rourke: Nice. So they get a lot more notice. They can actually go out and shop and get something really cheap because they have time to shop.

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah. They are not chasing us down to approve their plan.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yeah, right.

Darlene Schlueter: And this is – according to our baseline data, only 17.6% of events met the 7-day deadline. Post improvement, we had about 70.6% of events met the 7-day deadline.

Tracy O’Rourke: The 7-day deadline? Nice.

Darlene Schlueter: Reducing the amount of late approvals by 64% resulting in four times more events meeting that 7-day deadline.

Tracy O’Rourke: That’s great.

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah. In addition to creating the Fastpass, the mini auto alerts that Kymberly talked about really added to the TAP system, the improvement, and the overall lead time helping to have us met that 7-day deadline.

Control Phase: Maintain the Solution

Monitor & Response Plan

Kymberly Epperson: And in our Control Phase as Darlene mentioned, we wanted to create some auto alerts to make sure that the correct departments are being alerted when it’s their time to final review the event and move along the process.

So we created this monitor and response plan. We want to notify users of the Fastpass Track with four events with food only. So that way, they can test it out, give us more feedback at the end of the year.

We also want to look at the end of the year survey and see user usability, if it goes below 55% then we would need to evaluate. We want to monitor the 7-day deadline approval. So if more than 60% of events are not meeting the deadline, we’re going to make corrections to the process. So just a few things that we need to just monitor and keep up with to make sure we are keeping our process updated and user-friendly to use.

Project Closure

And so, this is our project closure. Our soft savings we found by eliminating steps for students and advisers save time by making the process less confusing. But our most valuable soft savings for this project is having an effective and streamlined tool that campus administrators can rely on to better assess and mitigate risk factors for the university and university property too.

Tracy O’Rourke: Right.

Kymberly Epperson: We want everyone to be aware of these events that are happening on campus.

Executive Summary

And so, this is our executive summary. It highlights our project and our project results. The effectiveness of TAP does depend on its consistent and streamlined application.

Tracy O’Rourke: Good. That’s very exciting.

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah.

Questions?

Tracy O’Rourke: So tell me how did you – did you feel like it was worthwhile going through the Green Belt program?

Darlene Schlueter: Yes.

Kymberly Epperson: Definitely. Yes, things that you don’t expect to cut out, and that make it worthwhile for the process as a whole for all parties. But yes, definitely. Even going from – like you visualize your day as like how you get dressed, you got some process or how you wash the dishes or clean your house or organize things. So it’s great that you can apply it at home but then also apply it in any type of process at work. It was really enjoyable.

Tracy O’Rourke: Good. And so, were you – when you were trying to figure out what project, did you have any nervousness about, “Oh my gosh! We’re going to actually be able to improve something?”

Darlene Schlueter: Actually, I think we were meeting weekly and then every other week, we were meeting with our core team and I did a lot of study for the final and there came a point where I was like, “Just memorize the definitions.” And then I got the point where I was like, “I actually understand this I think and I know how to apply these,” which was great and that was like a memorized thought. We got this. We can do these tools to make our project come to life.

Tracy O’Rourke: Oh good.

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah. So all that studying was worth it.

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah.

Tracy O’Rourke: So what do you think was the best part about the application of the project? Like when you went through the project, what were some of the things that really resonate with you when you are going through the project work? Anything in particular?

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah. I think the aha is during the process walk, just really seeing what each department has to do and what we can eliminate to help everyone work together better. And then make sure if we want to add anything for the process walk or …

I think the aha is during the process walk, just really seeing what each department has to do and what we can eliminate to help everyone work together better.

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah, I think the process walk was great but also, all the data we had, we were lucky enough to have that so then we can have that as our baseline data and then make sure we’re meeting those goals. So that was really good to see as well.

Kymberly Epperson: That was really eye-opening that you can pull data even for TAP event form with numbers and create charts. And so that was actually pretty challenging just because we haven’t had to do that before in this line of work. So it was really great to apply and find baseline data and measurements to do and then improve our TAP process.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yeah. So, how do you guys look at things differently now that you’ve got process improvement eyes? I mean you already said you get to apply some of the stuff at home, which I agree. I will say though, she is about to have a baby so you guys can’t see this but I can. Sometimes doesn’t work on kids.

Kymberly Epperson: That’s the big process, yes. Oh, it doesn’t work on kids. Darn it!

Tracy O’Rourke: Sometimes they don’t want to follow the process.

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah.

Darlene Schlueter: I think for me, I found myself thinking about it and talking about it especially when we were in the class and we’re studying or working on a project. And I’m getting conversation with my husband and my parents and then like especially the conversations with my dad were really great. I’d call him and say, “Dad, Kymberly and I have this data. This is what I think it seemed. What would you think we should use to best demonstrate it, Pareto or a histogram?” Again, these great conversations.

And what was so great about it is my dad, he comes from a corporate finance background and he had a good understanding of Lean Six Sigma because he worked with a couple of large corporations, did some training when he was out in retail toys. And so – and then here I am with a background in higher education, student affairs, and yet, we can speak the same language. I was amazed by the tools and the methodology and the terminology and how it crossed over through both industries or all industries. And I was just amazed by that.

Tracy O’Rourke: That’s really me.

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yeah. I think that’s my favorite part about the classes is you get to see all these different applications to all these different industries and people can speak the same language and you kind of follow along what they’re talking about, root causes, data, in the improve phase, those kinds of things. That’s great.

I think that’s my favorite part about the classes is you get to see all these different applications to all these different industries and people can speak the same language and you kind of follow along what they’re talking about, root causes, data, in the improve phase, those kinds of things.

Darlene Schlueter: Yeah. And even our class like our cohort was so great and there are all different types of industries involved in our class and we got to learn a lot. And I like that.

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah. I know you mentioned this in class a lot but there’s a process for everything and it made me want to improve a lot of other things at work and just from how we make a simple reservation for an event. So it’s interesting to see how it could go like we had mentioned across all different things and all processes to make the improvement. Not to say that you’re doing a bad job but things can be improved. So I’m excited to tackle on the next project.

Tracy O’Rourke: Good. So we know that your next project is to have a baby.

Kymberly Epperson: Yes.

Tracy O’Rourke: What about you? What is your next?

Darlene Schlueter: Oh yeah, my list is getting really large but like I said in our project charter, there were some things out of scope but there are things that definitely need to be addressed within this TAP process.

There is also how to apply for an alcohol permit. I want to work on updating that process. I also want to update the process and review that for event insurance for student organizations. So those are some of my projects that I work on now. And I think when Kymberly gets back we want to work on the categories.

Kymberly Epperson: Yeah, right now, we have so many categories that are just not very specific and narrow down. So especially with the user experience, I’m looking at a form that they’re filling out. You want to just give them maybe eight categories or options. You don’t want to give them over ten or over just a high number. It’s too confusing. And you just want them to be able to get through the form even faster.

Tracy O’Rourke: Yeah.

Kymberly Epperson: So I think that’s something that we definitely want to work on.

Thank You for Joining Us!

Tracy O’Rourke: Wonderful. All right. Well, let’s see. So if our listeners have any more success stories they want to hear, we’ve got an entire series or if you have a success story that you want to share, give us a call or contact us at GoLeanSixSigma.com because we’re always looking for success stories in every industry because they exist. And we also have lots of free templates and tools online and infographics for people to use that are always available globally.

So I want to take this time to thank Kymberly and Darlene for coming and sharing your project success story. Thank you so much.

Kymberly Epperson: Thank you for having us.

Tracy O’Rourke: And I also want to thank our listeners for coming in and listening to us as well. Thank you so much. Have a great day.

Darlene Schlueter: Thank you. Thank you, Tracy.

Tracy O’Rourke: You’re welcome.



Get the inside scoop on many other successful Lean Six Sigma projects at our Super Stories of Success page. Do you have a story to tell? We’d love to hear about your own project success! Please contact us.

Tracy O'Rourke

Tracy is a Managing Partner & Executive Advisor at GoLeanSixSigma.com. She is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Instructor at UC San Diego and teaches in San Diego State University’s Lean Enterprise Program. For almost 20 years, she has helped leading organizations like Washington State, Charles Schwab and GE build problem-solving muscles.