University Supports Culture of Continuous Improvement

March 23, 2011

University Supports Culture of Continuous Improvement


VALDOSTA -- A cross-section of Valdosta State University professionals collaborated to assess and minimize the time it takes for new employees to begin their job duties. The data collected justified implementation of a campus computer management system, Active Directory, which has since reduced the time associated with employee in-processing.

The project came about during a Lean Six Sigma class, which VSU adopted in 2008 as a business management strategy to create a culture of continuous improvement. Six Sigma, developed by Motorola in 1986, addresses an established opportunity through a series of steps -- from measuring current performance to implementing and assessing new adjustments.

The Collaborative Team

Information Technology Helpdesk Coordinator Benjamin Li led the project team, which included: Thressea Boyd, assistant to the president for communications; Angela Henderson, senior research analyst, and Chris Neasbitt, program analyst, for Strategic Research and Analysis; Stanley Jones, registrar; English Professor Dr. Jane Kinney, director of accreditation compliance, ex-officio; David Pulliam, programmer analyst.

The team sought out to reduce the time it takes for new faculty and staff to process into the Valdosta State University computing system. Initial analysis demonstrated that it took an average of 72 hours for new faculty members to log onto a computer and complete the electronic portion of their workloads. At the time, the university was considering Active Directory as a way to streamline employee in-processing and a host of other electronic responsibilities. Project results supported the adoption of the computer management system.

“The project was important to mitigating the number of lost work hours for new employees. This not only results in a cost savings for the university, but also contributes to employee satisfaction,” Li said. “As in-processing is one of the first steps toward a career with Valdosta State University, we want to be able to provide a lasting positive first impression to our new employees.”

Assessing Project Effectiveness

Following the Active Directory launch in 2010, the Six Sigma team revisited the project to review the effectiveness of the changes. Results showed that 52 percent of newly hired faculty members were able to log into campus computers to begin electronic work within the 48-hour goal set by the team, and 35 percent of new faculty set up their accounts within 24 hours of their start dates.

“Our hope was to be able to meet this goal for at least 20 percent more new employees than in our pre-assessment. We were surprised to see that we were actually able to meet this goal for 41 percent more new employees,” Li said. “We are pleased to have been able to contribute our input to the Active Directory implementation, as this system has not only benefited the campus in terms of employee processing, but also has had other effects, such as increased account mobility and the limitation of computer infections on campus.”

Campuswide Endeavors

The Active Directory implementation is just one of several campus-wide Lean Six Sigma projects Valdosta State University has taken on to adhere to the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia’s focus on Lean Six Sigma for Higher Education. Jeanne Severns, Director of Internal Audits, oversees the Lean Six Sigma projects.

“A Six Sigma project works best when a process or identified problem is cross functional in nature and cannot be easily improved within or by a single department. For example, employee in-processing affects every division on campus, and the team on that project included members from five different departments,” Severns said. “Other characteristics of successful projects include a clear connection to business priorities and goals with the possibility of significant financial impact.”

If you are interested in knowing more about Process Improvement at VSU, or if you have a project idea, e-mail Severns, at or call her at 229-245-2491. VSU’s Process Improvement is explained online at