Posted by: knightbird | September 13, 2012

3P for Software Selection

3P is shorthand for Production, Preparation, Process. While developed for the manufacturing side of lean, it has significant application at Chugachmiut. We have been using this planning tool whenever we engage in a substantial remake of new processes. We conducted 3P events for designing a new clinic and integrating our behavioral health and primary care processes. We essentially look at everything involved in the process with a new perspective, and come to the best process design we are able to. Our challenge is to create a “virtual” Gemba that we can apply the 3P process to. We might actually be making some progress.

Our current 3P is selection of our HR software. Quite literally, HR software can improve some of our processes by a reduction in processing time of up to 80%. But, we don’t want to implement software without understanding its impact on our existing processes. Yesterday I sat in on review of one package under consideration. Here are some key points about the process and what we hope it will deliver.

Our HR staff was the core evaluator. Others had been invited but unable to participate. The employees who know our existing system the best were evaluating the software.

Chugachmiut processes were actually modeled during the discussion. Every organization is unique, and staff wanted to see the extent to which the software meshed with our processes. Too often the software does what it does and we have to fit in. We want the software to fit in.

Software deficits were noted and admitted by the vendor. This was helpful because we know that the demonstration is not a sales pitch. A good vendor will not try to minimize software deficits. If they are willing to admit one, they might be willing to fix one. This lives up to one of the two lean pillars: continuous improvement.

Support is critical. This vendor had multiple staff working on introducing us to the software, its capabilities and its deficits. One vendor we were considering really didn’t respond. We don’t want a vendor who cannot live up to one of the principle tenets of lean: “respect your people.” Why would we want to become one of their people if they won’t even come to see us (come to the Gemba)?

Management did not make the decision. HR staff, program manager, division director and executive director were all engaged in the evaluation of the software. We used some lean tools for the evaluation. We hope we made the right selection, but we at least have a factual basis to believe we have.

Years ago a division director made a decision to purchase one particular software package. It was a total disaster. The software did not meet our needs. Staff was ordered to implement it and had no choice in its selection. We paid tens of thousands of dollars for the packaged and abandoned it after a brief period of use. Our current method of software selection is so much better.

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