Continuous Process Improvement

Commerce-1Adopting the SUCCESS Framework, the Department of Commerce has implemented performance measures and improvement tools in five divisions and, within a short period of time, is already making great strides—for example, a 16 percent improvement in one division. These improvements are in addition to the progress the department has made over the past few years and demonstrate that continual process improvement is possible in any environment. Outlined below are just a few examples of the agency’s great work.

By processing applications faster, the Division of Securities has increased capacity to meet demand. In addition, by establishing reliability standards for investment advisory applications, individual agent licensing applications, and corporate financial filings the division’s quality throughput ratio is trending upward. Specifically, the cumulative improvement for all three areas is approximately 16 percent over the baseline period. While these preliminary results need to be sustained over time, the division is well on its way to achieving the Governor’s 25 percent improvement target by increasing quality throughput without increasing operating expenses. Equally important are the positive benefits of increased speed on any system—improving reliability and customer service builds capacity for workload variation and supports a positive business environment.

The Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) has also shown great improvement by reducing a three-month backlog in pharmacy applications to two weeks while also decreasing call wait times. While the backlog was caused by several factors, division management quickly identified several issues that were interfering with the timely processing of licenses. As a result of quick actions to reduce or eliminate interferences, the accumulation of work has been significantly reduced.

The importance of quickly identifying potential backlogs and reducing or eliminating them right away cannot be overstated. Once a backlog occurs, staff time and focus often shifts from producing quality throughput to addressing an environment full of interruptions and bad multi-tasking. The DOPL team is now working to track throughput using cumulative flow diagrams—helping to ensure licenses are processed within targeted timeframes.

The Department of Commerce exemplifies how focus and strategy can assist organizations in reaching even greater heights. Executive Director Francine Giani and her staff are to be congratulated for their great work and constant dedication to providing better and more reliable service to the public.