By Derrick Wilson
Embracing Change, A Better Way, Every Day…..Our VCPWA staff have continued to meet this year’s communication theme even amidst the unprecedented times we currently find ourselves in. We do so by finding innovative ways to continue improving processes that meet the needs of the public we serve as well as enhance our quality of life.
In Roads and Transportation, the staff was able to walk through the current road paving process and eliminate unnecessary steps all while practicing social distancing. Prior to this recent improvement event, it was identified there were duplicated steps within the department when a paving project was issued from Design and Construction (D&C) staff to Operations and Maintenance (O&M) staff. Unaware of what prior steps had already been taken and included in a work order, O&M repeated many steps that D&C had already accomplished. By walking through the procedure and eliminating waste, over 30 steps were identified as being repeated. Moving forward, the new practice will greatly enhance communication within the department and will reduce, if not eliminate, the redundancy within the planning portion of paving projects as each work group will have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The new practice will be implemented in the future with the next project request at which time savings will be determined. Keeping the group small, staying focused and bringing the right resources to the table allowed the team to quickly streamline the road paving operation.
Another recently completed process improvement also took place in the Roads and Transportation Design and Construction (D&C) division. Previously, the Deputy Director of Roads and Transportation identified all staff-hours in D&C along with work to be accomplished. From there, projects were broken down into categories and assigned staff-hours per month. The process was detailed, time consuming, and non-standardized. To overcome this cumbersome process the challenge was to develop a quick, thorough method, to objectively allocate staff time to projects.
The team developed a Gantt chart tool that identifies which job categories will be over-committed if specified projects are undertaken, enabling better decision making about the types of additional hiring needed, including whether there are opportunities for this additional hiring to be in the form of permanent employees, consultants, extra help, or other alternatives. The automation of this process is estimated to save 20 hours per year compared to the current manual efforts. This savings will increase as new projects are added.
Customer service is improved by the ability to quickly and accurately determine if D&C has capacity to take on additional projects. This will be crucial in the years ahead, as grant and state funding availability are expected to make new proposed projects more likely.
Although the event began in February and all physical meetings wrapped up a day before the Stay at Home Order, the team was highly committed and continued to communicate virtually to revise the final product and develop a tool to increase productivity.
Can you believe automating a report decreased manual processing time from 4 hours to 10 minutes? This is exactly what was accomplished when Watershed Protection collaborated with Central Services to enhance an existing overtime report used for annual budgeting purposes. Improvements to the process consisted of developing a report to complete calculations, removing the need to do so manually. Additionally, implementing the changes and enhancements to the overtime report with internal staff saved significant resources by eliminating the need to rely on external consultants and vendors.
These are a few of the many improvements implemented by VCPWA staff on an ongoing basis. Regardless of the new work environment and unknown future, our staff stay committed to Embracing Change, A Better Way, Every Day.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Derrick Wilson was one of the first people of Public Works featured by Consortium Media? Here is a Q&A from that first encounter of the VCPWA type, and we are all so excited to see the work and results the PEAK team are achieving through the Room for Improvement and great adherence and education around VCPWA processes.