Quality Endeavors Issue No. 135

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January 2011

Penn State’s first of over 900 Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) teams was formed in 1991. It and other teams led to Penn State’s first Quality Expo in spring 1993 to recognize the work of these teams. The annual Expo evolved into an annual Quality Issues Forum each spring sponsored by the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment.

As more and more CQI teams have formed, the Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment established the CQI Team Database to record team information and make it easily available to other teams and individuals at Penn State. We know from experience that the database is visited not just by those from Penn State, but also by others from across the United States and around the world interested in the team approaches and accomplishments. We also know that there are many improvement efforts that are not captured in the database.

Each year in January we ask budget executives, managers, directors, and supervisors to update the database to include any teams started within the past year. We also contact teams in the database about a year or two later to learn about their progress and identify results.

As we begin requesting information and adding new teams to the database for the 2011 Quality Issues Forum, here’s what we have learned about the work of teams recognized at earlier Forums. Teams often focused on improving effectiveness, in many cases providing better services for students. Additionally, they looked for ways to operate more efficiently. Finally, technology played a role in the work of many of the teams. Thanks to all of the teams that responded during the summer and fall of 2010 to provide us with this information.

Student Services

In Undergraduate Education, Team 862 moved the admissions notification online, reducing mailing costs, decreasing the time between when an admission decision is reached and the applicant knows what the decision is, and reducing the number of e-mails and phone calls to the admissions office regarding admission status. The Office of Student Aid, through Team 890, also converted a paper-based student aid notification system to an online system, resulting in an estimated cost savings of $27,000 annually.

Team 840, sponsored by the University Registrar, made recommendations to reengineer the student Entrance to Major process.

Within the University Libraries, Team 871 responded to survey data to make the Libraries’ Website easier to navigate and use. Team 881 reviewed and assessed the process within the Libraries for submitting and evaluating collections for digitization, making the process more transparent.

At University Health Services, Team 880 developed an online scheduling process for physical therapy visits, to reduce scheduling errors. Team 886 developed an effective system for managing and tracking medication samples.

Campuses and Colleges

Penn State Berks’ Teams 854 and 858 addressed the growing needs and expectations of students, improved internal operations, and developed a scorecard to allocate resources and track progress.

At Penn State Schuylkill, Team 841 developed a teaching theme for the year of ‘diversity within community’, including development of several new courses and diversity related co-curricular activities. Also at Schuylkill, Team 842 developed a plan for their First Year Experience, to facilitate the transition of first generation college students to higher education.

Team 856 at Penn State Erie, the Behrend College, made a number of recommendations for improving the recruitment of underrepresented students.

Team 882 at Penn State Brandywine focused on improving internal communications.

In the College of the Liberal Arts, Team 893 is working on making it easier to use the Data Warehouse and run Data Warehouse queries, so that units have easier access to the reports they use regularly.

In the College of Agricultural Sciences, Team 875 prioritized strategies identified in the College strategic plan regarding food safety and health initiatives.

Support Areas

Team 861, the University Messaging System Working Group, is incrementally upgrading and consolidating the University’s e-mail systems, resulting in improved calendar sharing, directory access, and spam blocking, and increased resiliency for the e-mail infrastructure.

Team 863 in the University Budget Office moved the system for reporting instructional activity data to a new system to streamline the process.

Teams within the Office of Research Protection managed the 2009 move from Kern Building to Innovation Park (870), enhanced the customer service perspective within the staff (834) and improved the process for using feedback from both customers and staff to improve services.

In the Office of Investment Management, Team 891 managed the digitization of many files and an interoffice shared Website to access some of the files. This digitization enhanced the work process and opened up office space for staff.

Numerous teams worked within the Office of the Physical Plant. The Beaver Stadium Game Day Team (844) improved the process for football game day operations, addressed planning for succession of the next process manager, and in the process identified other areas for improvement. The Employment Process Team (848) decreased the waiting time to get positions posted, decreased the waiting time on position approval, and reduced the need to repost positions. Team 847 created a Web application to manage essential information about OPP employees. Team 849 developed a standard specification for fire stopping for new project work, and provided training on fire stopping. Team 846 outlined preventive maintenance for standard damper configurations, identified critical buildings for damper maintenance, and identified a minimum damper class for new constructions and renovation.

Thanks again to all of these teams for their work and the updates they provided. Priorities for Excellence: The Penn State Strategic Plan 2009-10 through 2013-14 addresses the continuing need for this work in Goal 7: Control Costs and Generate Additional Efficiencies and Strategy 7.7: Promote Continuous Quality Improvement and Reward Innovation. The work these past teams have done embody that strategy. Current teams are encouraged to enter information about their work or update what they have already entered in the CQI Team Database.