Any work setting requires new employees to undergo in-processing, often characterized by activities like filling out paperwork and reading manuals. Some in-processing procedures are quick, easy and self-explanatory, while others are burdensome and complex.

Before 2006, the latter was the case at the Army's Office of the Surgeon General (OTSG).

Every new OTSG staff member endured in-processing procedures averaging nearly three weeks, although sometimes their wait lasted as long as 85 days. New OTSG staffers were late in assuming their duty assignments due to the cumbersome internal on-boarding process.

LTC Rick Dickinson, chief of force management in OTSG's human resources directorate and a Lean Six Sigma (LSS)-trained Green Belt, identified the problem and helped find the solution.

"Looking at several of the processes to see where the holdups were, we discovered that OTSG needed a simple, lockstep process that would significantly improve the situation," Dickinson said.

First, Dickinson conducted a Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) to identify "quick fixes," resulting in a detailed memorandum from the OTSG chief of staff reiterating and clarifying the standards for in-processing procedures. Next, using the LSS DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) method, a new in-processing plan was developed that simplified the entire process.

In the end, the in-processing became virtual. New employees login and virtually "check in" to various in-processing work stations. They input the proper information and prepare the proper paperwork for signature. One central computer now records what many people in the past had scrambled to track; the solution is completely automated.

The success lies in what Dickinson's project generated: OTSG's cost avoidance for 2007 is projected at $167,000. Also, the average on-boarding cycle time significantly dropped from 17 to five days.

Page last updated Thu December 20th, 2007 at 17:58