"Fast Cycle Improvement in Knowledge Work"

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October 2001

Dr. Ian Hau, Vice President for Cross Functional Process Design at GlaxoSmithKline, presented a workshop on “Fast Cycle Improvement in Knowledge Work[PDF] and “Leveraging Web Technology to Transform University Processes” on October 19 at the Penn Stater. About 60 people attended the session, which was sponsored by the Web Strategies Implementation Team and the Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment.

Dr. Hau described the five steps that an improvement team undertakes in the Fast Cycle model:

1) Understand and map the current process;

2) Highlight key activities that take up time between each milestone in the process;

3) Define the ideal process, compare it to the current process, and identify gaps;

4) In order to move toward the ideal process, identify what can be done to change the current process through three approaches–eliminate activities, eliminate rework and eliminate idle time;

5) Identify the key factors of the new approach.

“Most of the activities that are removed from a process to improve it are those that should have been done earlier, or activities that are re-work,” said Dr. Hau. He stressed that the team’s goal for the final, improved process should be to “only do what is absolutely necessary.”

In the session on improving university processes through the use of Web technology, the following were among the ways suggested by Dr. Hau that the Web may help transform processes. Web technology can:

  • Virtually integrate services from the customers’ perspective

  • Automate work flow, including requests, transactions and approvals

  • Minimize rework by capturing information at the source, once

  • Act as an efficient market place, matching demand with supply

  • Enable 24/7 services

  • Facilitate better management by standardizing processes

  • Elimate dependence on location and time

  • Enable interactive real time transactions

View the complete set of Dr. Hau’s overheads for the Fast Cycle Model and Leveraging Web Technology. [PDF]

The Quality Advocates Network meets several times each semester to share ideas and examples of improvement and change. To join the Quality Advocates Network mailing list or to learn more about the meetings scheduled, contact the staff at psupia@psu.edu.

The Quality Advocates Network is open to all Penn State faculty, staff, administrators, and students.