Seattle-Area Government Turns to Six Sigma-Like Plan to Maximize Tech Investments

Seattle-Area Government Turns to Six Sigma-Like Plan to Maximize Tech Investments

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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Seattle-Area Government Turns to Six Sigma-Like Plan to Maximize Tech Investments

Faced with a tight budget, like so many other local governments around the country, officials in King County, Washington, began in 2013 to search for ways to maximize the benefits of taxpayer dollars invested in technology projects.

They had a lot of questions. For example, had $250 million in investments really improved services? Was money and time spent efficiently and how was that measured? Did county leaders need to make changes in the program?

Those questions led to creation of a plan that is very similar to Six Sigma. The Benefit Achievement Plan (BAP) developed by King County leaders – which includes the area in and around Seattle – has led to more efficient use of government dollars and improved services.

Those are the very goals of Six Sigma methodology.

The BAP Plan

The BAP plan resembles the steps used in Six Sigma.

For example, Six Sigma’s DMAIC methodology requires organizations to:

  • Define the scope, budget and objective of a project or operation
  • Measure future outcomes by collecting current baseline data for comparison
  • Analyze the root causes of current operational inefficiencies
  • Improve operations by creating changes to address the inefficiencies and conduct a test run
  • Control outcomes by devising methods of measuring success, a process that evolves as the project goes forward

The King County BAP plan has many similarities. Officials made it a requirement before any investment in technology gets the green light. The steps for the process include:

  • Identify the project benefits – saving money, improving service, eliminating costly waste, etc.
  • Develop methods for measuring outcomes
  • Set targets for the level of benefits expected to be achieved at certain milestone dates
  • Identify who is responsible for outcomes of the project – may be different people for different benefits
  • Set up an ongoing reporting process to elected leaders, with the focus on whether the original benefit goals are being met

The BAP plan has led to county government maximizing technology investments and sparked innovation in how services are delivered, according to the Government Technology website.

King County’s Use of Lean Six Sigma

The similarities between BAP and DMAIC likely are not a coincidence, as King County has utilized Lean Six Sigma practices in a number of areas to improve county government.

On the county’s website, officials list a number of successes in using Lean methodology. They include reducing the costs of holding elections, improved and expanded healthcare coverage and more efficient inventory management.

The county also uses a blog to update taxpayers on the latest uses of Lean methodology in county government.

For example, the county’s wastewater division reported late in 2016 that they standardized processes for projects, leading to less time wasted by employees and also rate savings for taxpayers.

The county also expects to save more than two years of time on implementing new capital projects, a goal achieved by reducing wasted time and money in a number of project areas: permitting, purchase of property, launch time, design and engineering and management.

With so many local governments searching for methods to improve services and cut costs, King County offers a successful example of how Lean – and processes that resemble Six Sigma methodology – can benefit taxpayers.

The post Seattle-Area Government Turns to Six Sigma-Like Plan to Maximize Tech Investments appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

By: James LoPresti
Posted: June 29, 2017, 11:57 am

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