ASQ Vancouver provides expertise to facilitate Katherine Sanford Housing Society’s Business Transformation Plans
AFFINITY DIAGRAM EXERCISE: DEFINE PHASE
Photo (left to right): Bonnie Rice (Director- KSHS), Mark Baillie (Assistant Property Manager- KSHS
Katherine Sanford Housing Society located at 228-2211 W 4th Avenue , Vancouver BC is a registered charitable organization whose role is to:
- advocate for housing for people with a mental illness and addictions
- develop innovative, efficient, and cost-effective housing that is responsive to the individual needs of people with a mental illness and addictions
- ensure the best design and quality of construction of its houses
- manage its housing efficiently and meet the continuous needs of the people it serves
Since its start in 1989, Katherine Sanford Housing Society has developed 16 licensed community residences and 3 supported apartment projects accommodating more than 200 people in typical residential neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Richmond.
KSHS is developing 2 new supportive housing projects that will increase the number of units the staff will be managing in the next 2 years from 400 to 600. In order to increase capacity with limited resources available there is a need to streamline processes and maximize operating efficiencies.
ASQ (American Society for Quality) Vancouver chapter is a non-profit organization of quality professionals . In November of 2010 ASQ offered its services to Katherine Sanford Housing Society to help KSHS with its business transformation plans.
In the beginning stages, it was difficult to figure out where ASQ would fit in. KSHS seems to be an already efficient organization, whilst anticipating tremendous growth. In order to support this growth, KSHS pre-qualified an IT solution called YARDI, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that meets its Property Management requirements.
KSHS also told the ASQ team of their plan to purchase an integrated IT solution. Because an ERP system like YARDI has a single database or a single instance of data, a full process chain of dependencies must be developed. Every organizational function becomes dependent on the process steps before and after it no matter what department or area is responsible (Kallinikos, 2004). . In an Integrated Software Suite, because of these dependencies, a data error is no longer contained in a single isolated system as in times past. Each data error, or each problem that occurs has both upstream and downstream consequences and the corrections cannot be made in isolation. Improper configuration or system design can have huge impacts on the amount of effort to correct the data and to maintain the system in an ongoing fashion (Sia and Soh, 2002).
Rene Clement, CGW Chair decided that KSHS would benefit from an Affinity Diagram exercise in order for both ASQ and KSHS Project Team define and understand the problems we can help with. Co-led by Project Manager Navin Kumar, the exercise confirmed that there were issues in how information is stored and retrieved. Processes needed to be properly documented, and an internal audit of the current processes, policies and procedures are long overdue. Some documents, forms and records have not been maintained, location not centralized, and historical information make take several minutes, hours or days to retrieve. In turn, knowledge transfer can be difficult to realize at the current state.
For long term business benefit and ROI, the ASQ team provided KSHS with a solid overall process understanding, walked them through efficient data storing and retrieval process, Risk Management and the Change Management process.
Without process understanding, YARDI consultants will not be able to achieve a process oriented implementation. The project team asked the following questions; If YARDI does not have process understanding, how will they help KSHS realize any process efficiencies or improvements during the design process? Without the overall process understanding, how can the consultants guide KSHS through the change management process needed for competitive business transformation?
In order to address the process requirements issue, the team needed to map KSHS’s key processes. ASQ found a flowcharting solution called Flow Breeze, an inexpensive add-in software in Excel. In no time, KSHS was able to define and document their processes in a simple and intuitive way. As a turn key software solution, all KSHS staff needs to do is type in keywords, descriptive text, then followed by a flowchart wizard and voila! instant flowcharts ready for them to use and share with YARDI consultants.
The Flowbreeze software was only one of two “firsts” in this project. Secondly, the team used a free collaboration software called DROPBOX enabling the project members to communicate any time and manage documents online.
At press time, KSHS is carrying out its YARDI implementation.
“These projects provide a tremendous opportunity for both organizations,” said Richard Vurdela, Chair of ASQ Vancouver, “It allows our members to gain new skills, share their expertise and benefit their community. Equally the recipient organization, by reducing waste and improving quality, can focus more resources on their primary mission of satisfying clients.”
Through the Community Good Works program, ASQ provides vital process improvement expertise to community-based, not-for-profit organizations to assist in implementing a solution. ASQ quality experts use their knowledge and skills to design and implement quality-improvement plans. To date, the program has improved the human resources process at an organization engaged in assisting families at risk, the registration process at a local neighbourhood house, improved the client services at an organization helping new immigrants.
As champion of the quality movement, ASQ is an organization that offers technologies, concepts, tools, and training (including Six Sigma courses) to professionals, practitioners, and everyday consumers, encouraging all to Make Good Great®.