Posted by: knightbird | June 8, 2015

Spam and Junk Mail Waste

I was reading a Metric’s Discussion from the University of Washington’s (UW) lean education reports. I know in email and healthcare, we get a lot of spam and unsolicited mailers. One job that Virginia Mason Medical Assistants (MA) take on is weeding out the waste mail so their physician does’t have to. When I arrived at Chugachmiut in 2003, we did not have an email spam filter. It doesn’t take long to pay off an email spam filter given the huge volumes of spam that are out there. If you get 100 pieces of spam a day, and it takes you 5 seconds to delete each one, you will spend almost 35 hours a year deleting spam. If you have 100 employees, that’s 3,500 hours, or almost 1 1/2 FTE’s. Mind boggling, isn’t it.

The same is true of mail. While I have a lot of lean management operational and strategic knowledge, I learn a lot from others. From this study, I now know that there are efforts to reduce waste in mail, and I have already looked them up. If a medical assistant sorts through 100 pieces of non relevant mail, you know that mail has already been handled and transported by the organization’s mail system. As a lean practitioner, if you want to understand root cause and eliminate expense, you have to figure out a method of stopping the mail from being delivered to you. Then you incur no expense in transporting or sorting it out. The MA would have that additional time to do value adding work.

In the meantime, the UW has a recycling program to deal with the thousands of pounds of waste mail it receives annually.

Curiosity is good. If we can find solutions to problems that cost us time and value, we all benefit.

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