Case Study: Performance
Excellence Improves Environmental Health and Safety Services
world-renowned, university-based provider of environmental health and safety
services was facing increasing pressure from private competitors in several of
its service areas. Radiation safety services represented the largest
component of their business. Clients included many notable medical and
research institutions. There was a pressing need to reorient the
organization away from a culture of regulatory authority and internal focus,
toward a culture that emphasized the importance of its customer relationships
and was focused on providing timely, high quality, cost-competitive services.
Performance Excellence Audit: Reviews of operational procedures,
critical incidents and meetings with clients identified several issues which could impact
was a notable lack of awareness within the organization regarding the
service relationship required to retain and satisfy customers.
of the organization's energy was being misdirected toward internal
activities and rivalries unrelated to critical service processes.
core process of the business had never been mapped or analyzed for
value-adding activity, and virtually no performance measures were in place
to enable effective process management or systematic improvement.
times to report radioactive hot spots, to process laboratory samples and to
prepare monthly summary reports were extremely long.
were increasingly demonstrating a willingness to abandon their longstanding
relationship with the organization to obtain the service and flexibility
being offered by commercial competitors.
Operating and Management
Process Improvements: The
comprehensive process by which laboratory safety and radiation checks were
conducted, analyzed and reported was mapped in detail by a cross-functional,
multi-level team which included many of the technicians. The process was
analyzed particularly for improvement opportunities in cycle time, but also for
improvements in cost-efficiency, customer satisfaction and quality. A
customer satisfaction survey was conducted with the eight major institutional
customers. Numerous and substantial changes were designed into the
process. A list of key questions to monitor the performance of the process
was derived, and methods to collect data to answer those questions were
implemented. The process improvement team assumed long-term responsibility
to monitor performance data and take actions as necessary to promote continuous
Major improvements were achieved
in process cycle time, customer satisfaction and cost-efficiency. Specific
delays to research laboratory where radioactive "hot spots" were
detected were reduced from 3-4 weeks to the next morning.
typical 3-4 week backlog of radioactive samples to be processed was
time required to provide monthly summary reports to radiation safety
officers and principle investigators was reduced from 4-6 weeks after month
end to 3 days following month end.
time for technicians, which represented non-value-adding time and
substantial cost, was reduced from 120 hours per month to 40-60 hours per
month. Customers' perceptions of the relationship shifted from being
regulatory and negative to viewing them as a supportive, service
April 13, 2008.
Copyright © 2008 Conard Associates, Inc.