Project with Process Improvement Approach
For this assignment, I would use an example from my school internship where I was a part of a small but important project. I was working as an intern in the local library. Our school has a program in which they would assign students in groups of two or three to work as interns at libraries and social work offices. I and one other friend were assigned to work for three months in the local library which was used by the locals. Local people used to come to the library and read books and newspapers. They would also use internet. These people were allowed to take one book at a time to their homes for up to 7 days to read. The library had been established for almost a year and the number of people who were visiting the library was steadily increasing. The project that I was involved in was part of upgradation of the home book issuing system. The time I arrived at the library, they were using a register to put the names of the people and the books in there with the due dates. This was an efficient way of handling the issuing of books but it was not yet posing any serious problem as the number of people was who took books were not that greater and thy could have been managed with the help of a register. But the number of people was increasing and it was easy to predict that the register may not be enough in the near future. There was a need for some pre-emptive measures. I would say that it was time to apply process improvement concept. I was not aware of the concept at that time but now as I have read the concept, I can easily say that we applied the principles of process improvement to bring in improvements and save the library staff from being in trouble of book issuing management in the future.
Describe the experience in the project.
I have had a great experience during the project. Though I was not a part of the technical aspects of the project, i.e. setting up the MIS for the library. This was done by a company that the library administration had called in to install the MIS. I was trained on the system by the trainer to understand the book management system and I worked in different shifts after the installation of the system on the book issuance desk in the library for 2 months. This was my first experience working anywhere. This is why it has always been an unforgettable experience for me. It provided me with an opportunity to understand my strengths and weaknesses while working as a part of a team.
What were the solutions used to address the problem?
As I earlier said, it was not a problem solving situation. It was more like a process improvement situation in which we predicted that a problem could arise if the system was not upgraded. The IT Company that was hired to install the MIS installed the hardware and software. They also inserted bar coded to the books that could be read by the scanner storing data to the MIS. Then they trained 4 people on the system, including me.
Was the case you described a special-cause or common-cause?
It was a common cause case in my opinion. The factors that could have caused an issue in the future were all common causes which were increasing day by day. For example the number of people wanting to take books to their homes was increasing which could have been one of the common cause of the issue. The other problem was the register which would have been harder to manage if say there were more than three time the number of people issuing books to take home. So there was not a special cause that can be pinned down. There were multiple common causes that called for some improvements to be brought in.
Do you feel the solution or approach used appropriate for the cause?
I do think that the approach that was used was appropriate. I visited the library after 5 months of my internship had concluded. I found many people issuing books and there was no problem they were facing. The books would be put in front of the scanner and that’s it. The same way, returning a book was also easy. If the book was late, the system was able to issue a warning with the appropriate fine that has to be submitted by the issuer. The MIS had made easy the lives of both the people issuing books and the library staff.
What would you do if you could do it again?
If I have to face the same issue, I would follow the same techniques again. I mean they did work and my visit to the library after five months of the internship proves that. I must say that we do not to reinvent the wheel again and again. We must learn from our experiences and apply the solutions in similar situations.
What conclusions can you draw from the problem-solving or process-improvement techniques?
The techniques that were used at the library were process improvement. For me, as I said earlier, it was a new experience as I had the opportunity to be a part of a team that anticipate a problem in advance and applied the right process improvement solution that worked well and responded efficiently to the situation. In my concluding remarks, I would like to stress on the continuous process of bringing improvements in a system. If these improvements are not brought in on time, the system may deteriorate and the problems that are resulted due to this deterioration may not be easily managed.