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Performance Improvement on the Fly – Case Study

Updated: May 11, 2020

As our Board Chair, Victoria, so eloquently shared; this has been the perfect storm for analyzing, responding and improving our processes to achieve the goals and objectives of our organizations.

As the finance director for a small city, the reality of directing staff and maintaining quality customer service in a remote setting, in addition to playing a key role as part of our emergency response and management teams, was a huge wake up call. If you have ever wondered how performance improvement concepts affect you and your environment, I can tell you by experience that my involvement in OPPIA has been paramount in helping me understand how to look at all of the many things we do, and with a critical eye analyze how to be more efficient.

Long before I heard of public performance management, the profession of process management, or organizations dedicated to public performance, I have always had good organizational skills and constantly analyzed my processes for getting things done. I have always encouraged my staff to think about what they do and why they do it in a certain way. I challenge them to think about ways to be more efficient without sacrificing quality.

I had an employee that said to me that she only wanted to have to think about how to do a task once. She would think it through very carefully and write down the process step-by-step. Her point was that if she took the extra time, the first time, to understand the process and how to get to the desired result in as few steps as possible, it would save time in the long run, because she wouldn’t have to think about it again, just follow the checklist. However, she always left the door open to improving that process. She was very efficient, thorough, and productive. With the arrival of COVID-19, my staff and I had to quickly figure out how we were going to get our work done in our new work environment. I had to figure out how to manage staff remotely.

Fortunately for me, I have a fantastic team working for me! One of our biggest challenges was for our utility billing clerk. So much of our utility billing and customer service processes are physically located at city hall. Especially when it comes to printing, processing, and mailing bills.

We already had systems in place to quickly push out to our customers and other city staff. Such as receiving bills electronically, paying our vendors and payroll through ACH, and other creative uses of the technologies at hand; reducing the need for staff to go into city hall to cut live checks or take payments.

Once we picked that low hanging fruit, we were still faced with the utility billing process. Over the years I have had numerous vendors trying to sell us utility billing services. I had always resisted this; I think for no other reason than that I liked how we were doing it and I thought it would be too expensive.

With COVID-19 and emergency orders, we were able to expedite the contracting process. My staff quickly gathered quotes from 3 companies. We chose the one that was the most responsive and promised to have us up and running in under 30 days at the best price!

By the first week of May our utility billing clerk transmitted the billing file to the service company. They downloaded it and sent it back to us for proofing the same day. That’s it! They will print, fold, stuff the envelopes and mail the bills. This process alone saved my utility billing clerk 4 days of work, this month and every month going forward. This will also save the city copier costs, maintenance and frustration with the folding machine, and reduced postage costs. All in under 30 days! That, to me, is Public Performance Improvement.

--Gloria Butsch, Finance Director for the City of Independence and a member of the OPPIA Board


Line of Sight Metrics

May 18, Noon-1 pm

OPPIA Lunch and Learns provide a valuable way to learn and connect. This Spring, we will be connecting in a new way: Virtually.

Register for our May Lunch and Learn, and we will send session login details the day before the event. And we hope, since travel and parking are not issues, that all of you can take time to attend this great learning opportunity!

Brandon Cobb has a passion for process improvement and an impressive resume. He started his career in state government in 2009. Several of these years were spent working in Department of Human Services and Oregon Health Authority, where he provided training and coaching on Lean methodologies of continuous improvement. He has managed various continuous improvement projects helping teams to define their purpose, develop meaningful metrics, and set performance measures. He believes that anyone, regardless of their position title, can find ways to make processes better. He not only coaches at work, in his spare time he coaches high school football and enjoys spending time with his family.

Brandon’s presentation, Line of Sight Metrics, will improve your understanding of the connection between metrics and mission. It will help you identify metrics relevant to the work you perform. Metrics are important in determining whether or not a team is accomplishing its mission. Metrics should also be clearly connected to the larger organization’s mission.

Please share this link with others with a passion (or need for!) performance improvement.

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