At its core, Finance & Administration is all about service to the UW Campus. Our strategy is built upon making everyday service, or “operations,” the best they can be. We often liken our work to running a small city.  Our investment advisors, maintenance crews, accountants, buyers, tax experts, transportation planners, parking attendants—and of course, our managers and leaders—are bound together by one mission, and increasingly, one improvement focus:  efficient and effective operations. The benefits allow campus customers to concentrate on their core work. They also allow our employees, who are here at the UW because are invested in the University’s success, to make things better in their own workplaces.

In UW Finance & Administration, we implement Lean thinking, tools, systems and principles across our enterprise. It incorporates the measurement and results aspects of the work we’re doing, along with the large-scale deployment of Lean across all of our units, departments and teams.  We have shared our discoveries with many other campus units, and with external agencies and universities that have asked for our help. We believe we’re living our mission to ‘help people who change the world’ now, more than ever before.

For many of our customers, our operations are transparent—the lights come on and the invoices get paid, somehow. This is how it should be. For other customers, a high degree of interaction and expertise is needed—for the UW’s records, taxes, investments and capital projects, for example. In all cases, achieving excellence in operations through constant, incremental improvement, based on what our customers value, is our mindset and our practice.

Lean – Operational Excellence Stems From Putting People First

In January 2010, Finance & Administration (F&A) began using Lean (based upon the Shingo Model of Operational Excellence) as a comprehensive approach to:

  • Find ways to become even more flexible, efficient and customer focused
  • Build a shared culture, beginning with common tools and vocabulary
  • Improve core processes by eliminating waste, redundancy and rework
  • Transition to a new and sustainable business model to address changing demands and reduced budgets
  • Build upon existing improvement work within F&A, including the use of balanced scorecard methodology, operational-dashboard measures, quality and process improvement fundamentals, recognition and teamwork
  • Provide a better work environment for all

Making Every Team Member a Problem Solver

“Lean is basically about two things,” says Earll Murman, Ford Professor of Engineering Emeritus at MIT, and former Co-Director of MIT’s Lean Advancement Initiative. “A mindset of continuous process improvement and respect for people. Lean is about establishing a culture where everyone has two jobs – the one they are hired for, and the other being to continuously improve it. Lean is about making every team member a problem-solver to continuously improve his or her work system. Efficiency and finances are outcomes.”

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