Using Lean Six Sigma to improve onboarding

The Department of Pharmacy Practice had an issue in need of a more efficient method. The faculty onboarding process was inconsistent and incomplete, which was leading to poorer outcomes for everyone involved.

“Due to these lapses in onboarding, faculty experienced wasted time, effort, energy, higher turnover rate, decreased faculty satisfaction, and decreased quality of teaching, scholarship and service,” said Mate Soric, Pharm.D., BCPS, FCCP, chair and professor of the department.  

Dr. Soric and a team comprised of Petrea Cober, Pharm.D., professor of Pharmacy Practice, and Scott Wisneski, Pharm.D, M.B.A., RPh, associate professor of Pharmacy Practice, tackled the issue head on as a Green Belt project in their Lean Six Sigma training.

The onboarding process had always been lackluster, but the situation was exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and loss of support staff.

The Green Belt team used a variety of LSS tools to determine underlying issues, determine metrics and improve the process.

“We utilized process mapping and a SIPOC diagram to visualize existing and ideal processes, a Fishbone diagram to identify all the elements that contributed to our challenges, and Critical to Quality Trees to drill down to possible drivers of success and performance measures,” Dr. Soric noted. “The Project charter and Dashboard were excellent ways to put our ideas and successes on paper.”

The new process evolved into a yearlong orientation cycle with specific meetings geared toward teaching, scholarship and service. New faculty received detailed orientation materials including faculty and staff composites, bylaws, curriculum summaries and a glossary for common NEOMED jargon and abbreviations. The orientation year culminated in a luncheon with the Office of the Dean. Getting buy-in from new faculty was not an issue.

“Since we had a fairly disorganized and limited onboarding process initially, the new process was a welcome change for new faculty,” he said. 

Using LSS Elsewhere

With the success of the new faculty onboarding process, the department has applied LSS concepts to other projects.

“We have had a slew of projects from faculty and staff in the Department that have utilized LSS principles, ranging from our Faculty Mentorship Program, the way we schedule block rotations for students in the experiential curriculum, to the process we use to gather and store faculty peer evaluations of teaching,” said Dr. Soric.

What would he say to someone who is thinking about going for a Yellow or Green Belt?

“There is so much great info to learn in the program. It is digestible, easy to complete, and you can always find surprising ways to apply your new knowledge,” he shared.

Sign up for the LSS cohort that begins May 2.

A version of this article appeared in the strategic plan newsletter.

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